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Lesson 108 of 225
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Who is Your King?

Who is Your King?

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

This is a feel of what it was like on the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It’s strange, loved ones, because every time I come to this day, (Palm Sunday) I don’t quite know how to deal with it. I don’t know if you feel the same. It’s all the big palm branches that we spread before Jesus and we cheer; yet you feel that that’s not just exactly what it’s about. It’s not just about a triumphant entry and yet it is partly that.

There are some interesting verses if you look at them that point out the difficulties. If you look back to John 12, you’ve got the great feeling that this was a triumphant thing and everybody is trying to make Jesus king. They’re all anxious to exult Him, to praise Him and it seems to vote Him in. Yet you have these strange verses.

John 12:18: “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.” That kind of makes you wonder. “Is that why they went to meet Him? It wasn’t really because they were utterly convinced that He was the Son of God, the Lord of all and the king of glory but that “He had done this sign.” It was the old proud excitement thing. You get this a bit further on in verse 37.

John 12:37: “Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him.” So in the midst of all the excitement about him you get this suggestion that they really came because they had seen somebody raised from the dead. Yet even though they’d seen somebody raised from the dead, they didn’t really, really believe in Him. Then you get towards the end verse 42,43.

John 12:42: “Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” It just seems strange. It doesn’t seem real. Many even of the authorities believed on Him and yet they didn’t confess it because they might be put out of the synagogue. And then it says, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

So you’ve got a kind of mixture. You’ve got all this exultation over Jesus coming in, and you’ve got a lot of people apparently approving of Him and applauding Him. Seemingly some of them believed in Him yet you’re not sure which reason made them believe. Then you’ve got the emphasis at the end that even those who did believe didn’t say anything because they were afraid of what people would think.

I don’t think it’s important to decide what we think of Jim Baker or what we think of Jimmy Swaggart. I think the bad thing about the whole business is, it makes you and I feel so self-righteous. We start pontificating and judging, and that’s the last thing we should do. It seems to me we should love and be merciful and be kindly affectionate. We’re in the same boat except for Jesus’ grace.

It does seem easy, doesn’t it, to get caught up in PTL or in 700 Club or in Jimmy Swaggart or in smaller things like this Campus Church and to get all excited about the outward show. But after all is said and done, the outward show has an awful lot of bluff and hypocrisy in it, hasn’t it? I mean there are enough of us who are all excited about the outward show of this ministry or that ministry or of Jesus coming in on the donkey and everybody cheering Him and yet there’s a lot of bluff underneath.

There are a great many of us who are giving all the praise, applause and support because of some outward sign that is plainly sensational. It’s exciting and we want to be part of it, but it doesn’t necessarily say much about what our own personal attitude is to the central figure in the whole show.

In other words, it’s easy for us to give money either to this place or to some other place or ministry. It’s easy to have a lot of outward excitement about it and yet that doesn’t say much about your own attitude to the King Himself. Loved ones, these days are important for us because they are an opportunity for me to say very plainly to you: it’s no big deal whether you throw down palm branches or whether you throw down your clothes and garments for the guy to ride His donkey over. It’s no big deal whether you give money to this ministry or that ministry. It’s no big deal whether you’re there when the crowds are there.

The important thing is, is He king in your own life? That’s it, you see. That’s what Jesus was reacting against here. He knows us human beings. We are dear people but we are dumb. We are such silly little kids. We love the excitement and all the fun and yet we’re just miserable old hypocrites when we’re away on our own. We’re okay when the crowds are there and they’re bringing Him in on a donkey. But when the machine guns are out there, or the guy with the number 666 that we are watching for comes, then we’re not so strong. The Lord knows that. He tries repeatedly to say to us quietly, “But listen, am I the king of your own life? Do you let Me ride into your life on My little donkey? Do you let Me guide your life, run your life and rule your life? Do you treat Me as king personally, privately?”

I think that’s what Palm Sunday is about. It’s God saying to us, “Look it’s not the big show that counts. I really don’t want to be an earthly king. I really don’t want everybody to treat Me as the king of America. I don’t want that. My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My disciples would fight. That’s not what I am after. There’s only one kingship that I treasure and that’s the kingship of your own life, your own personal life. Your own life is dear to Me. You are precious to Me. Your will is dear to Me. I want you to be Mine and I want to be king of your life. That’s why I put you here. I put you here so that you and I could live this life together, so that you could do what I’ve put you here to do.”

Loved ones, that’s what we’ve been talking about over these Sundays. But you and I have got lost in all that. We really don’t live our lives that way at all. I don’t blame you. We’re all in the same boat. We’re born into this world where everybody has a certain attitude and a certain way of acting and we’ve just entered into it.

We’ve just come into the same world as everybody else. Even our moms and dads have encouraged us. We’ve kind of looked around and said, “Boy this is a big place and I am a very little speck here and nobody cares too much for me. I can see the way they brush me aside. If I’m going to make anything of myself, I am going to have to strive here.” Most of us just come into that naturally and we start striving.

After we waken up — sometimes we waken up in sixth grade, some of us don’t waken up until we’re at college, some of us don’t waken up until 10 years later — but eventually when we waken up and see that there’s no free lunch, we decide we’d better get going otherwise they’ll walk over the top of us. And so we get going. We just get going depending on our will and our upbringing. Most of us get going and start working out how to make a living. Then it’s not just enough to make a living but you

have to have a little extra for the fun of it. So you try to get a little extra and then you try to begin to get on top of life as far as your survival is concerned.

You begin to think, “I am different from everybody else”, and yet they’re not treating you as different. “If I could get a different kind of car, they would treat me as different.” And so we get a different kind of car — not because it drives better — just because they’ll look at us. It has nice a color or it’s a Cadillac or whatever and it makes them look up to us. Before you know it, we’re all on the same miserable track. We’re working like mad to try to survive and to establish our importance in everybody else’s eyes. It’s not long before we are little puppets that are driven by those needs.

Somebody said to Rockefeller, “What do you want?” He said, “Just another million, just another million.” Even a Rockefeller never thinks that he has enough. And of course we think, “Yes, yes look at him. Now we really are justified. We just need another thousand.” We never have enough to make ourselves absolutely secure. Cancer could hit you and then so can the medical bills.

It’s endless. We get onto our rat race and we keep on going and going and going. Most of us can actually see no end to it because we are being led by the nose. If you step back loved ones, it’s like being led by the nose. It’s like some fellow has you by the nose and says, “Come on, just a little further and you’ll have absolute security. Just a little further and people will really think you’re great.” We’re on a treadmill that just keeps turning and turning and turning. That’s what we’ve said is the situation with most of us.

Does God guide our lives and our jobs and our relationships? Forget it! He’s not in the picture at all except when we’re in real trouble. Then we call Him in an emergency for some consultation. But on the whole, we tip our foreheads to Him and we get going, trying to make ourselves secure and of some importance in this world. Most of us live our life like that. Do you see how far it is from Him being king?

You see how far it is from Him being the king of your life. We don’t need to pretend with each other. You know how you live your daily life. Most of it is lived by your common sense. But that’s just an excuse we have. We really mean it’s lived by our own wills. We do what we want to do and what we think we should do. If I ask you, “Does God want you to do that?” you’ll look at me blankly and say, “I don’t know. He hasn’t said anything to me about it.” And I say to you, “Have you asked Him?” You say, “Well, now and again I ask Him.” On the whole, we live an unguided life that is driven by our needs and desires.

So the King is not king in our life. In fact, if I ask you what’s king in your life, you’ll probably say, “Necessity is king in my life. I haven’t got the luxury of sitting around, letting somebody else be my king. Necessity — my needs, and the things I have to do — that’s what dominates me. That’s the king in my life.”

That wasn’t the way it was meant to be. It wasn’t meant to be like that. That wasn’t God’s plan at all. His plan was that you and He would live it together. That you and He would do it together. You are different. You’re different, it doesn’t matter how close you feel to your loved one beside you. You’re different. It doesn’t matter how alike you might look to somebody else. You are very different. There’s a life that the Creator wants you to live that is different from all the rest of us. He wants you to live it with Him and He wants you to talk it over with Him and He wants you to receive His guidance.

Don’t get all funny about it and ask, “Oh, how do you get guidance from God, is it in a vision?” It’s through your thoughts. God feeds His thoughts through your mind and through your spirit when you have an attitude to Him that treats Him as king. Now how do you do that? Well, you know if you really did love and respect your dad or your mom, we all differ. Some of us have had great respect for our dads, some of us for our moms, some of us for an uncle or an aunt or maybe even some for a schoolteacher, or minister.

Now, think of that. Think of it just with your mom or your dad. If you really think a lot of them, you know what happens every time you come to not only an important decision in your life but even to many of the ordinary things that you do. You immediately think, “Now what would my mom do here? I wonder what my dad would want me to do here? What would he do?” You just naturally think that. You don’t go into all kinds of mystical experience and try to contact your dad or your mom. You just think, “What would they do?”

That’s part of what it’s like. That’s part of the way God meant us to live. You and I would size things up, and we’d say, “I didn’t come here by chance. There’s more to this world than meets the eye. There is a God. He put me here. He put me here for a purpose. I’d better start being interested in what He’s thinking.” You start treating Him with respect. Then every time you are involved in something, you wonder, “What does He want me to do here? What does He want me to do in this job situation? I think I should change jobs but I wonder what He thinks? What does He think?”

That’s the way God intends us to live. It’s the same with marriage. Not, “I love this girl. She’s really great. I am just going to marry her.” No, you say, “Lord God, You know what the story is going to be 10 years down the way. You know what it’s going to be like. What do You think? What do You think I should do?” It’s the same with the things you say in the office through the week. The dirty joke goes out and the dirty joke is a big deal to you. You have a God that put you here, He loves you, and He is the one you’re going to see at the end. So you say, “Lord, this joke doesn’t feel too good to me, how do You want me to respond to this?” That’s it. If you really love and respect somebody, you don’t need special little prayers up to them or mystical experiences. You just have a desire to please them and you automatically think, “Now what would you do here?”

Now here’s the problem. Many of us, especially as we get on in life a little, begin to see that this is right. “If anything is right, what you’re saying is right because this world is a very transient thing. You’ve only got to look at Minneapolis now and compare it with what it was 20 to 25 years ago to see this thing is going very fast. There’s nothing very permanent in this world, you’re dead right. As I am beginning to move through life, I see that it’s vital for me to get to know the maker of this universe. I’d better because it’s not going to be long before I am going to be with Him. He’s going to be the only really important one that I have to deal with. It’s time I started to operate the way I was meant to operate.”

Some of us have come to that point and then you discover a hideous fact. You try to start operating that way and you can’t. You start trying to think “Now what would God want me to do here?” and it’s the old thing that was said in this chapter. “They loved the praise of man rather than the praise of God.” You sense God wouldn’t smirk at that joke. He doesn’t want me to smile at it. He doesn’t want me to say what all the rest are saying in the office at this minute. He doesn’t. But your whole being has gone that way for 10,15,20,30 years and it’s like turning against an express train to go the other way.

It seems almost impossible. You feel, “Yes, I should stand my ground here. In fact I should probably not just let the joke go, I should probably say that is sick. But still I like the praise of men and I like approval. Even if I am not going to get approval; I don’t like the fear of men. I am afraid that they’ll think wrong of me if I do it.” So we end up wanting to live our life in a way that will please God and that will get us ready for meeting Him, but we find that our whole personality has been moving the other way for so long that we “can’t change our spots”.

We’re born a leopard and a leopard can’t change its spots. Loved ones, we’re all in the same boat. That’s the same situation we’re all in. All of us have called out at different times in our life, “The good that I would, I cannot do and the evil I hate is the very thing I do.” That, you remember, is what we’ve been saying has happened to us.

You remember we put it in a diagram. (Rev. O’Neill shows a diagram) We said that it’s as if we’re made of three parts. There are three parts of our being or our human nature. There’s an inside part called the spirit. That’s the bit of us that is the real us. That’s the part of us that is meant to get to know God. Then around that is our soul. Our soul is the psychological part of us. Around the soul is our body. The plan that God had was that we would get all we needed from Him. With His love, we would get all the things that we needed — just from His love.

We’d get our security from Him. We would say, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” I don’t know how many of you are in that situation. Some of you were good at a certain job, a certain piece of work. You knew you were good at it and God had actually given that to you as a gift. What you should have done was go ahead with that and trust Him to provide the security you needed. But the vocational guidance counselors and all the rest of the people said, “Well, you’re not going to make much money at that so you’d better do something that you’ll make money at.” So you started to decide what you’d make money out of, when actually God’s plan was that if you listened to Him and did what He wanted you to do, He would provide for you.

Now, I sympathize with every one of you, who say, “That’s impractical!” But the fact is you’ve never tried it. We’ve all tried the other way and that’s why so often we don’t know who we are. We’re doing what will make us a dollar but we really aren’t convinced that the Creator of the world put us here to do that, yet we get caught up in that. We were meant to get our security from God.

If you say to me, “You mean He has so fixed the world economy that if I did what I was gifted to do, I would survive?” Yes, that’s right. That’s what He has done. When you look at the dollars you’re making, you can see you could make them a thousand other ways. Sometimes you dedicate your whole self to making the dollars and they don’t come in anyway. So it’s all a game finally. At the very end of life, you’ll probably have far more than you needed. You’ll see some person who has nothing of what you have and they’ll be just as happy. So, the old security thing is all a game. But God’s plan was that we would be led that way (pointing to the diagram).

It was the same with significance and importance. He didn’t want us to buy nice cars to make ourselves important in the eyes of our neighbors. He didn’t want us even to succeed at our job in order to receive the applause of men. He actually wanted us to do what He wanted us to do. Then we’d have such a sense of approval that we wouldn’t need approval from anybody else.

You know it with your dad. If you did something and your dad praised you, it didn’t matter what anybody else did. You thought you were just the king. That’s actually all you need. You only need the love of the one important other person of the universe. You don’t need the love and applause of

all the others at all. That is God’s plan. It’s the same with happiness. It wasn’t a matter of charging after a faster boat or a faster bike, but really getting your happiness from the Maker of the world.

In fact what we did was to decide we wouldn’t do that. We decided no, we would get it from the world itself and not from God’s love. (Rev. O’Neill is pointing to a diagram) We’ll get our security, from trying to gather our things around us. We’ll get our sense of importance from what people think of us. We’ll get our happiness from arranging the circumstances right. We have become little puppets governed by sunny days. If it’s a sunny day, we’re bright and happy. If it’s a bad day, we’re miserable. If we have something to look forward to this week, we’re delighted. If we have something bad coming up in the middle of the week, we are unhappy.

If somebody frowns at us, we feel we’re nothing. If somebody like the boss praises and smiles at us, we think we’re wonderful. This is in spite of the fact that he’ll die probably before we will and then where will our significance be? If the things, and the dollars seem to be coming in, we’re happy. It’s such a game, isn’t it? Half the time we don’t know the things that are waiting to fall on us financially. It’s true that often we are living in a fool’s paradise. This month the stocks have happened to go the right way, but the next month you don’t know what’s waiting for you.

So it’s all a game. The whole assurance that we get from these things is a tale told by an idiot. Yet we’re all ground into that kind of slavery. That’s why loved ones, when we start trying to operate the other way, there comes a tremendous collision point that occurs right here. That’s what it means when the Bible says, “The desires of the spirit are against those of the flesh.” The flesh isn’t just all the sexy business. I have said that before to you. The flesh is actually living from the outside in. That’s the flesh. It’s living from the outside in. Nor is it what we call the terrible sins. It’s not. Wesley said, “The noble sinners are the worst.”

So we can be noble sinners. We can be moral in every way. We can be pictures of respectability but we still live by the flesh. That is, we live governed by our things, our circumstances and by other people. The battle comes there. Now, what did God do?

That’s what He did. (pointing to a diagram) Our old self was crucified with Christ. That’s the meaning of Jesus’ death. That whole nature of yours, it’s called the sinful nature at times in the Bible. Or it’s the nature of the flesh. That whole sinful nature that operates from the outside in was destroyed in Jesus. That’s a fact.

If you say, “Why is it still operating in me?” Because God cannot act against your free will, He can’t. God has the whole thing set up. He has actually destroyed all the old way that your nature worked. He has destroyed it. It actually does not exist in eternity at all. But He has allowed the shadow of it to remain in this life so that you can choose what you want to do.

It’s a bit like after the Hiroshima explosion. In the streets you would see what apparently looked like a person standing there. You’d go up to him, poke and the cinders would collapse. It wasn’t the person; the person had been burned to death but you know the way an ash keeps its form. A newspaper you throw into a fire keeps its form but when you poke it, it disappears. That’s what we have.

We actually have ashes here. We have the form of the old self here in this world but actually it has been destroyed in Jesus. God is saying to us, “Do you want to live with that ‘shell life’? Or, will you accept what I have done to that life when I changed your nature completely in My Son?” That’s

what the death of Jesus is about.

Your old self has been absolutely changed. It no longer has reality in eternity. In eternity time is meaningless. Time is unreal. It doesn’t really exist. We put our clocks back or forward; we just play around with it. It doesn’t mean anything. You and I can remember things that happened 5 or 10 years ago as if they happened yesterday whereas some of the things that happened yesterday we’re not as clear about. Isn’t it true?

Memory has nothing to do with time. Time does not really exist. That’s why God says, “Our old self has been crucified.” There is no past and future. There is just an eternal present. And today, you are able to believe that. Or you’re able to go off today and continue that unreal existence, living from the outside in. I say this to you — there will come a day when some fellow like myself will stand over a hole in the ground and will throw ashes on your casket and will say, “Dust to dust; ashes to ashes”, and at that moment, you won’t have all of us around you. You won’t have all the people who praised you or criticized you around you. You won’t have all your money or your coats or your cars around you.

At that moment, you’ll be standing as you were when you came into the world. You’ll be like a little baby with nothing on. You’ll be standing before your Creator and you’ll be looking at Him. Then loved ones, you’ll see reality plainly: that there is only one person that really matters in this whole universe. There is only one whose opinion counts. There is only one who can look after you. There is only one whose friendship is essential to your happiness and that’s our dear Maker, your Father and mine. He wants you to live this life with Him.

You know the way they talk about the big world as terrible and sinful. Well, that’s silly. That’s just Satan’s pretense. That’s not the worst thing about the world. The worst thing about the world is the ‘seen’ things out here. (Rev. O’Neill is pointing to a diagram) We allow ourselves to be dominated by this seen world instead of being ruled by the unseen King who still insists on riding a donkey so that you will really crown Him king because you love Him, not because of any big show. Let us pray.

Dear Father, we thank You for this day, this sacred day when we remember the attempts that our forefathers made to make Jesus an earthly king. We thank You for showing us the hypocrisy that was involved in that and all the unreality. We thank You Lord for presenting to us clearly our choice this morning. Because of Jesus’ death, the changing of our natures and Your destruction of this old self, we are able this morning to walk into reality and to bind ourselves to You Lord God. We would begin to treat and respect You as our Father, as the King of our lives. We would begin to run our lives by what You tell us and by what we think would please You.

Lord, will You give grace to any dear heart that is willing to make that change this morning — simply and quietly as we bow our heads before You? Now, the grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and evermore. Amen.