Jesus - A King beyond Our Wildest Imagination
Contributed by Preacher Herna Kong (Orchard Road Presbyterian Church)
We give thanks to God for technology, which enabled the churches in the English Presbytery to commemorate the death of Christ and listen to His Word online despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The pre-recording of this 3-sermon series of Holy Week was done at the ARPC (Adam Road Presbyterian Church) on Friday, 31 March. We praise the Lord that as of Good Friday, there were over 10 000 views for the 3 sermons in all, of which about 8 000 constituted viewers from Singapore. This 3-sermon series delivered by Dr Simon Chan is based on the events leading to Jesus' death according to the Gospel of John. The apostle John writes about Jesus in the final week of His earthly ministry as a King of a very different kind. Everything that was associated with kingship—anointing, glory and power—based on the up-side- down value system of the world, was turned right-side-up by Jesus in His earthly ministry as King. He was anointed for burial; He was glorified on the cross; and He was empowered to be vulnerable. Jesus by his “kingly” actions exposed the futility of a fallen world, along with the vanity of its value system.
The Anointed King (12:1-11) Jesus’ death according to the Gospel of John. The story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus (not done by a prophet or priest but by a woman of dubious character) followed by the story of Jesus being hailed as King of Israel (the triumphal entry, vv. 12-18) leading to His death are conflated by the apostle John to reveal a profound truth: Jesus was anointed for His burial—the only way the King could exercise His anointing power was by way of death on the cross as appointed by His Father. We are not only being anointed with power to carry out great exploits in our ministry, we are also being anointed with power to face tragedies, pains, and even death. Are we prepared for that kind of power?
The Glorified King (12:20-36) The coming of some Greeks to see Jesus triggered His momentous reply, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (v.23). Jesus’ reply pointed to His glorification and exaltation through His death on the cross (vv.24-36). How could Jesus be glorified in his death and exalted on the cross? The reasons are: Firstly, His death on the cross brings life to the world. Secondly, it was an act that was in accordance with God’s plan, and whatever accords with God’s plan glorifies God. Thirdly, it demonstrated God’s love for humanity. Fourthly, by His death, He defeated the one who had the power over death, namely Satan. Therefore, it was on the cross and not on the throne that Jesus was exalted as King. We must understand the definitions of glorification and exaltation from God’s rather than the world’s perspective, and allow these definitions from God’s perspective to shape our Christian life and ministry.
The Vulnerable King (13:21-32) Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, according to some commentators, was not just motivated by greed but also by political ambition based on his mistaken notion of Jesus’ kingship.
He hoped that by betraying Jesus, the Latter would be compelled to openly proclaim His political messianic mission to the Jewish nation, and establish His kingdom on earth. Judas could not possibly fathom that Jesus, by renouncing power, by making Himself at the disposal of his enemies, was exercising a power greater than any earthly king could possibly exercise—God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’ to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11). In our ministry for God, we must not be driven by the desire for power because that will corrupt our soul. Instead, our power is derived from our obedience to God. When we face all kinds of injustice or persecution, we must learn not to retaliate but to entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly and we must continue to walk in obedience. Although this year’s Holy Week Convention was conducted in a different way because we were not able to gather physically, it is the prayer of the Committee that the Word of God preached will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sends it out.
Glory be to God Alone!
(Dr Simon Chan was formerly Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College until his retirement. He is currently the editor of Asia Journal of Theology and conducts regular spiritual retreats for lay leaders for TTC.)