Easter Sunday Sermon – Jesus is King

In this sermon Pastor Tim celebrates Easter Sunday by following three royal scenes in John’s gospel that point towards Jesus as King!

Easter Sunday 2023

Great to see everyone!

  • He is risen! He is risen indeed!
  • Introduce myself… Tim, married to Victoria, 2 kids… 
  • It is great to have you here celebrating Easter with us. 
  • It is a profound time of year where we get to reflect on the death of Jesus and to celebrate his triumph over death!
  • You are so welcome and I hope you enjoy our service today! Easter Eggs…

Baptisms immediately after the service!

  • Represents new life in Christ!
  • Great to hear from the people getting baptized…

Well, we have been doing a series in John’s gospel in the lead up to Easter, so I thought I would stay there…

  • And speak to the Easter story from John’s account of the life of Jesus.
  • One which he summarized as saying;
  • “I have written these things that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
  • That is the story of all those getting baptised…
  • It is not just about believing but also about coming into this full, whole life through Jesus!
  • So our series has been in the week before Jesus death and resurrection, often called the Upper room discourse in which Jesus prepares his disciples for life without him
  • And now we come, in one sense to that moment. 

I want to talk today about Jesus as King, looking at 3 scenes from John’s Gospel…

  1. His entry into Jerusalem where he is hailed as King
  2. His death on the cross where he wears a crown of thorns, mocking him as King
  3. His resurrected appearance where he is confirmed as King.

Many years ago when I was studying theology in Vancouver I re-read as an adult the Narnia books by CS Lewis.

  • They are a series of kids novels that Lewis wrote while a lecturer at Oxford University in the 1950’s.
  • That serve as an allegory for the story of Jesus.
  • Maybe because I was deep in study of theology I needed to have it explained to me in slightly simpler terms. 
  • It’s about my reading level too!
  • And you can’t beat Lewis story of the frozen land of Narnia where a King who appears as a Lion named Aslan comes on the scene 
  • Of course in Revelation Jesus is described as the lion of Judah!

And so right as 4 children arrive through a mysterious wardrobe into Narnia, Aslan is back on the scene to claim his throne as King 

  • And to set free the land of Narnia from its Witch Queen 
  • And so the children come through the wardrobe into a land where the Witch has imposed an enchanted, eternal winter on Narnia, symbolizing a dead, stagnant time. 
  • Nothing grows, animals hibernate, and the inhabitants live in fear… 
  • The Witch’s winter destroys the beauty and the life of Narnia.

Of course Aslan the wise, caring but powerful Lion represents Jesus

  • And the story culminates in a great battle between good and evil after Aslan takes the place of Edmund who has betrayed his siblings.
  • The witch whispers in Aslan’s ear “so much for love.”
  • Of course CS Lewis has in mind John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
  • The one perfect life of Aslan is laid down for imperfect life of Edmund.
  • But in doing so, Aslan reminds them of the Narnia prophecy: 
  • “When a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in a traitors place, the stone table will crack and even death itself will turn backward.”
  • And so Aslan, the true King of Narnia gives up his life for Edmunds… who I must admit is a rather annoying kid!

And then of course something amazing stirs… Aslan who has been tormented, bound and killed lies on the stone tablet.

  • Susan and Lucy stay with Aslan’s dead body all night. In the morning, they hear a great cracking noise, and are astounded to see the Stone Table broken. Aslan has disappeared. 
  • Suddenly Susan and Lucy hear Aslan’s voice from behind him. 
  • Aslan has risen from the dead. 
  • They then join the battle between Peter’s army and the Witch’s troops. 
  • Peter and his troops are exhausted. Fortunately, Aslan swiftly kills the Witch and Peter’s army then defeats the Witch’s followers.
  • Narnia is liberated from evil and the King is returned to his throne. 

For those of us who love Narnia, I think the story has had an enduring legacy, not just because it is a great way to introduce children to Jesus and what he has done at Easter…

  • But because there is a great longing to have someone like Aslan in control…
  • And a deep sense that this world, like Narnia is not what it should be…
  • And wouldn’t it be great to have our lives, indeed our world redeemed and set right and made new.
  • Not just by another ruler or politician or influencer…
  • But by God himself… coming in the flesh as King…. To rule and redeem and bring life back to a decaying world. 

Poses the question – how does this world that we live in get put to rights?

  • I think of the wars and injustice and poverty…
  • But also the internal battles we all have with bad habits and broken relationships…
  • And if there is a God who is interested in his creation…
  • How might he go about redeeming the darkness and brokenness in this world?

Well in the story in the bible, there are lots of themes in the Old Testament that get fulfilled by Jesus.

  • And one of those is the longing for a King who would appear on the scenes and save his people. 
  • And so when the people of God come into the promised land out of slavery in Egypt, they had no King because God was their King who had rescued them.
  • But they rejected him and demanded that they would have a King like other nations.
  • So God gave them what they were after… 
  • A King after their own hearts called Saul…

But he wasn’t a great King because he sinned and so ultimately God gave them a King after his own heart…

  • And that was David
  • And God’s promise was that one of David’s descendants would be a great King, a Son to God and this son would rule a Kingdom that would have no end.
  • It would be a kingdom of righteousness… and justice and mercy!
  • And so they wait… and wait… and wait… 
  • For the one who would deliver his people and set the world right again!

It’s a all a bit Narnia’esque isn’t it!

  • Waiting for a King to appear who would set things right… who would free the people from their captivity and slavery. 
  • Well with that in mind, I think we can frame the story of Jesus as the story of God coming as King to rule and restore his creation
  • And it will happen in the most surprising and unusual of ways.

Our first royal scene occurs the week before Easter

Word had spread about this travelling prophet who was doing remarkable miracles, things that people had seen with their own eyes…

  • Healing a man born blind, feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves, and now raising Lazarus from the dead…
  • Of course they want to proclaim Jesus as King…
  • If he could do that… then surely he is the promised one… 
  • And maybe he could banish the Roman occupying forces…
  • He could put the world to rights…
  • Surely this is God’s long awaited King coming to rule and set things right…

Let’s read John 12:12-15

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 

It’s an amazing royal procession…

  • Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people come out to worship him.
  • Verse 15 refers to an ancient prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 that promised the King who would come to set things right would arrive on a donkey!
  • Can you imagine? They know this prophecy about their redeeming King…
  • And then almost on cue… Jesus arrives on a donkey!
  • And so they cry out “Blessed is the King of Israel”. 

But there is a sense they want a worldly King… one who will do their bidding and meet their expectations… 

  • Telling of this is how the crowd that has adored him turns on him just a week later.
  • And we turn to that scene now…
  • Indeed the same adoring crowd will a week late cry “crucify him… we have no King but Caesar.”
  • We’re a fickle bunch us humans… beware being swept up into the mob!

So the second royal scene happens about a week later

And how things seemingly have gone wrong. 

  • After a week spent with his closest disciples, washing their feet, commanding them to love one another as I have loved you…
  • And then being betrayed by Judas… it is not looking good. 
  • Let’s read John 19:1-3 and then verses 16-19

Verse 1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Verse 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews

Well this second royal scene is not what we might expect after the first one where Jesus is greeted with adoration!

  • We reflected on this on Friday at our Good Friday service.
  • Now we find Jesus being crucified on a cross amongst common criminals.
  • There are complicated reasons, but basically the religious leaders have conspired with the Roman powers to remove Jesus from the scene.
  • They see him as a blasphemer for claiming to be God 
  • And they are jealous of the people who have gone over to him, undermining their power.
  • In their words they claim he must die, because he claims to be the Son of God (19:7)

But there is a telling thing that happens on the cross…

  • He is given a crown of thorns… 
  • And mockingly a plaque is placed above his head that says;
  • “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
  • It’s a brutal scene. One of the most devastating pictures we can ever comprehend. 
  • Everything that is pure and right in Christ, meets every thing that is wicked and evil in humanity. It is carnage. 

Of course, what to a casual observer, would look like a defeat…

  • There is something deeper going on…
  • While the sign above his head is intended to mock him… 
  • It is of course a coronation of the servant King… the one who comes to defeat sin and death 
  • Again a bit like Aslan in Narnia who refers to a deeper magic… there is more going on than meets the eye.
  • This is not just another executed revolutionary…
  • This is, in the words of John the Baptist, “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Nonetheless, the one who had entered Jerusalem and been hailed as King

  • Is now laid bare before the world and mocked as the King of the Jews
  • Dying on a cross with a crown of thorns on his head.
  • But this Jesus, this King, this Son of God is not finished…

So the final royal scene occurs 3 days later… 

And really that is what we have come to celebrate this morning.

Let’s read John 20:24-28

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

So 3 days after his death, the disciples are buzzing with good news…

  • Already Mary has reported back to the disciples that at the empty tomb Jesus has appeared to her.
  • Then in an upper room, he appears to his disciples, bestowing upon them peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness..
  • But Thomas we are told was out at the time… he had missed all of the action.
  • He has his doubts…

It reminds me of the one day I ever wagged High School. I just couldn’t be bothered to go so stayed home and watched the Rocky movies…

  • And of course that was the day that at school assembly the US Power Team came and visited.
  • And apparently they were bending metal bars and lifting multiple children above their heads and bursting watermelons with their bare hands… 
  • Well if that has caused in me life long FOMO, I can only imagine how Thomas felt missing all of these appearances of Jesus. 

So Thomas who wants proof in order to believe, is there a week later and we are told Jesus came and stood amongst them saying “peace be with you”

  • And he invites Thomas to see and touch where the spear and nails had pierced his body.
  • It leads to a simple confession… a very royal one.
  • Thomas said to him “My Lord, and my God.”

Now obviously beyond that being a confession of faith…

  • It is also a confession of who Jesus is… the King of Kings. Lord and God. 
  • And Thomas knew the meaning of that word Lord… in Greek it was the word “Kurios”… it was his people’s way of speaking of their God. 
  • But as a subject of the Roman empire, on every coin was a picture of their earthly King, Caesar. 
  • And on that coin was the inscription “Caesar is Lord!” 
  • To question Caesar’s Kingship was to be punished with death!
  • Thomas confessed on seeing the risen Jesus, “My Kurios”… he is my God, he is my King. 

In the Narnia story that CS Lewis wrote to communicate the story of Jesus to children

  • It is a wonderful thing once Aslan has died on Edmunds behalf
  • And defeating death joins the battle to defeat evil and restore Narnia to life. 
  • Suddenly the woods are completely alive, flowers are blooming
  • This is no ordinary Spring… the Witch’s winter is over and Narnia is experiencing the epitome of life rather than death.
  • And the rightful King is back on his throne.

And friends, I think that is what coming to know Jesus as King does

  • It doesn’t mean we never suffer again or experience pain… but we move from death to life.
  • From Winter to Spring
  • I was reading this week about the singer and artist Nick Cave. 
  • Who in his life has experienced violence and drug addiction and the loss of his own Son.
  • At one stage he was described as being in the most violent band in Britain.
  • And if you know his music, he has wrestled with God and life for 40 years.
  • But Nick Cave is back in church and finding strength and meaning in Jesus. 
  • Something new is emerging in Nick Cave… new life!

That is the point of Easter… 

  • Remember, the author of John’s gospel wrote “I have written these things that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
  • When we come to acknowledge Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”
  • When we recognize Jesus as King, the one who comes to defeat evil and restore life
  • A remarkable Spring occurs in our lives…
  • One that we can experience now and that lasts into eternity! 


Who do you serve? Simple confession…

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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