November 21, 2021—————Rev. Patrick Mecham………….Christ the King Sunday
2 Samuel 23: 1-7——————-Revelation 1: 4b-8—————John 18: 33-37
Those of you who follow professional football already know the name of David Tyree. You know that, in the 2008 Super Bowl, his New York Giants were behind the New England Patriots (the undefeated Patriots) they were behind by four points with only a minute and fifteen seconds left on the clock. Eli Manning launched a pass, and Tyree leapt for the ball at the same time the Patriots’ All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison did. Tyree grabbed the ball, then Rodney smashed into him. He felt himself falling, and his left hand slipped from the ball. So, he pinned the ball against his helmet with his right hand, and completed the pass. Four plays later, they scored the game-winning touchdown: Giants 17, Patriots 14!
The photograph of that incredible catch was spread around the world, and was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Tyree was an instant celebrity. His life changed!
But, long before this amazing event, David Tyree’s life had already undergone a much more dramatic transformation. You see, he got into sports in middle school, and he got into drinking not long after. Somehow, he always managed to keep his grades up through high school, and he got a scholarship to Syracuse University. He then moved into a much higher level of football—but he became an all-star partier as well.
FORTUNATELY, his girlfriend, Leilah, was NOT into the party scene. (More about her later.)
After college, he got into the NFL—again, a much higher level of football and, for Tyree, what he refers to as “a never-ending bender.” It was only when he got arrested that he was forced to stop and take stock of his life. He sensed that he had “hit rock bottom.”
He asked himself, “What have I been doing with my life?!” He prayed for God’s help. He told Leilah about his desire to change. And he started reading her Bible!
All this time, David Tyree had been trying to be KING in his own life—and it hadn’t really worked out very well. He finally decided to make Christ his King. We’ll hear more about his story in a little bit.
Today is Christ the King Sunday. Our scriptures have references to both King David and to Christ as King—his throne and his glory and his dominion forever. BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN CHRIST IS KING IN OUR LIVES? We need to ask: Do we really want Christ to be our King? (What are the challenges of that—and what are the benefits?) Then, if we do acknowledge Christ as King, how then shall we live our lives? Let’s take a look.
God’s People Wanted a King
Remember with me what the nation of Israel was like in its early history. They were a Theocracy, and God was their ruler. But the people knew that other nations had a king, and they wanted to have a king as well. Their first king was Saul, and he was a bit of a DISASTER! So Samuel was guided by God to anoint David, a shepherd boy, to be the next king. He came from a tiny village in the foothills called “Bethlehem” (which means “House of Bread.”) One day, this insignificant village would be known as “The City of David.” David was the youngest son of Jesse, who was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. (Do you remember them from a few weeks ago?)
David was described as “a man after God’s own heart.” He was passionate about his faith—and he wrote a good many hymns in praise of God. These are in our Book of Psalms! He is the one who penned, “The Lord is King forever and ever” and “Lift up your heads, O gates, that the King of glory may come in.” You see, for David, God is KING!
Of course, there is that sad chapter in his story in which he succumbed to temptation and forgot to keep God KING in his life. He admitted his mistake; he repented; he got right with the KING.
God Is Sovereign
The story of David reminds me that God is Sovereign, and I am NOT! Of course, God has given us free will. You and I are free to choose what we will do with our lives. But this fact remains: whether or not we choose to make God Sovereign in our lives, God is still the One who is in charge of the universe!
Now, here’s what happens when I try to be the KING in my own life: I find myself wanting something and, instead of praying about God’s will for me regarding that something, I simply say, “I WANT IT!” I pitch a royal fit in order to get it. (You know, it’s mighty hard to say NO to myself when I am pretending to be the King of my life .) Eventually, I discover the hard way that God is Sovereign, and I am not.
IF Christ Is My King
At the time when I turned my life over to Christ, I basically said, “God, I want you to be the king in my life.” And I mean it when I pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” I bring to mind that Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, then God will make sure that you have what you need.”
When I acknowledge that God is Sovereign, I understand that sometimes God’s answer will be NO, and I will have to live with that disappointment. I will live with that disappointment until the day comes when I see that God said NO (back then) in order to say YES to God’s best TODAY!
Now, Christians, I have to warn you: when we pray about something and get a NO, sometimes we will try to weasel our way around that NO and convince ourselves that it really is a YES. When we do that, we will be disappointed. If we affirm that Christ is our King, then we will accept the NO and remember that God’s YES is so much better than our own!
Some friends of ours had twin boys, Kyle and Trevor. Cute kids. But occasionally their parents would find them doing something they KNEW was wrong, and they would ask, “Who said you could do this?” And Kyle would say, “Trevor told me I could” while Trevor was saying, “Kyle said I could.” Yikes! But sometimes I do the same thing. I give myself permission when God is holding up a big STOP sign. The good news is that I CAN BE TAUGHT!
I remember that God’s YES includes the gift of life in Christ, the One about whom it is written that “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” And I remember the words that Jesus shared with Pilate: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
I’ll finish today with a suggestion for Thanksgiving. One of the things we give thanks for is the variety of choices that lay before us. And we’re thankful that our Sovereign God is always working to say the biggest YES possible to God’s children.
Just take another look at David Tyree and his wife, Leilah. A few days after David gave himself to God, he completely lost his desire for drugs and alcohol. And God used him to be a witness to his NFL team. Right before the Super Bowl, he put a note in every player’s locker that read: “I believe God wants to do great things with this football team. This is a wake-up call for us to come together—to trust God and put our gifts to the test. Let’s do it!”
Friends, let’s do it! In each of our lives, let’s say “Christ is King—and I am not.”