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Christ The King: Are You Your Own Potentate?


Did you know the United States once had an emperor?

Believe it or not, it’s true – at least, it was in the rather confused mind of Joshua A. Norton.

Norton lived in San Francisco during the gold-rush days of the 1800’s. He was a colorful character, to say the least. When speculation in the rice market brought him to financial ruin, something happened to Norton’s mind. He declared himself “Emperor of These United States.” It might have been a practical joke, or it might have been the result of a clouded mind. Whatever the initial reason, Norton’s pretending soon grew into a delusion. In 1859 he published a proclamation that he was emperor according to an act of the California legislature. He found a sword, stuck a plume in his hat, found a cape, and marched the streets in colorful costume.

The citizens of San Francisco were amused by this ploy and so played the game with him. They gave him recognition with free tickets to special events. He was invited to galas opening nights. In fact, they allowed him to collect a small tax and issue his own currency. It was all done in the spirit of fun. But to Norton it was serious business. In fact, he expanded his authority to "Emperor of These United States and Protector of Mexico.”

The Jews, back in the Prophet Samuels day did the same thing. Let me tell you what happened in todays language:

(I Kings DRV/1 Samuel 8:1-7,18-19)

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

Then down to verse 18: 

And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day. But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us,

The Hebrew people wanted to be like other nations and demanded a king be named to rule over them.

Why did they not want God to rule over them?

Why did they want to have an earthly king over them after knowing the wondrous works God has done before them?

This included, but was not limited to God:

  • Rescuing them from the slavery of Egypt

  • Feeding them manna through the years in the wilderness

  • Clearing out their enemies

  • Giving them the land of milk and honey.

Sounds like us even today. You see, God has done so much for us. This includes, but is not limited to God:

  • Rescuing us from the slavery of sin when we passed through the waters of baptism. (Romans 6:4)

  • Providing His flesh and blood to feast upon and to nourish us. (John 6:54)

  • He gives us strength in the Lord, and in the might of his power. He provides a amour, so that we may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

  • He supplies every need of ours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

And yet in spite of all He has done, we like the children of Israel will reject Him as King of our lives and we will put ourselves on the throne.

The children of Israel demanded a king, even when the prophet Samuel warned them how a king would take the best of their crops and children to serve him.

What has your “King” taken from you? You may say, “Nothing! I am doing just find. I have everything under control! I have a good job, married to a wonderful spouse!, I have two beautiful children! My life can not be any better.”

But most of us will go through at least one great trial in our life that we can not control.

There was a man by the name of Jimmy Schmidt who was a very happy man. But one morning, His pregnant 29-year-old Lindsey Schmidt was taking her 3 children to their Catechism class when she was killed in a crash that also took the life of her 1-year-old son Kaleb. The next day their 4-year-old Weston died. And the day after that his 6-year-old son Owen also died. Eddie Schmidt found him self in a situation where all he loved was lost. And all though in his own words, he was “blessed to have Lindsey in his life. And he was blessed to have the children in his life.” He could not control what had happened to them.

What is it in your life that you are trying to control?

Are you the King of your life or is Jesus? Are you making the decisions in your life or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you?

Are you King over your time? Are you too busy to fellowship with God? Have you let other things get in the way of your daily prayer life? Do you only call on Jesus when you’re in trouble? Too busy “dealing with life” to deal with God?

It’s dangerous to try to serve both king and God: “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. ” (Matthew 6:24)

If God ordains the path for your life, if God’s Word sustains and nurtures you, and if your life is centered on God, then why would you put your trust in a king? If you trust in God in all things and for all things, why would you want another ruler over your life? Putting anything first, puts God second.

God was not pleased with the people of Israel. He was angry. He had set the Hebrews apart as His special people. And yet He gave them what they wanted.

And so God chose Saul to be their king. When he didn’t work out, He replaced him with David. David, was a good king despite his immorality with Bathsheba. Many kings followed who did evil in the sight of God. They began to worship other gods. David’s son, Solomon, married many foreign women, who influenced him to set up idols and gods to appease them. It provoked God to anger for each succeeding king. Ahab was said to be worse than all the kings who ruled before him.

Search your heart. Is God the real king of your life or is He in second place? You can only have one king. And only you can choose who your king is going to be.

I began the homily with the story of Joshua A. Norton, the self imposed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. He died in 1880. More than ten thousand curious people attended Norton’s funeral service – one of the largest funerals ever to take place in California. He lived and died in his own delusion of grandeur. He didn't hurt anyone; in fact, he brought a bit of a smile and a chuckle to people who came across his path. But make no mistake about it. Joshua A. Norton was never really the emperor. Had he really insisted on a confrontation with the United States government, he would have been disposed of rather quickly. More than likely, he would have been confined to an insane asylum for the rest of his life.

Imagine the poor soul who dies and enters eternity convinced that life was all about him or her, that he or she was the focus of their own little universe. What a shock to find that the Bible’s title for Jesus is accurate. He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and no pretend emperor will ever take his place.