God and the gunpowder plot

A church just down the road from us asked if I would speak at their Bonfire event. I only planned to talk for 5 or 10 minutes, so didn’t say much. But if you are hosting some Bonfire related do tomorrow, perhaps there will be something in this you might find helpful too. Anyway, below is what I said.

Who knows what we remember on Bonfire Night? The gunpowder plot

Who were the plotters trying to get rid of? Who were they trying to kill? King James I

So, the (very) short version of the story is this:

  • A king, that a number of people hated, was on the throne
  • A plot was hatched to kill the king by blowing up the houses of parliament using gunpowder kegs
  • Guy Fawkes was the man who was going to light the fuse when the king was inside 
  • Around midnight, on 5th November, a magistrate saw Guy Fawkes lurking around the cellar in parliament and ordered a search of the Building. During that search, the gunpowder was discovered.
  • Guy Fawkes was arrested, he admitted to being part of the wider plot to kill the king and the other conspirators were also arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death.

Now, here is the key thing: The plotters hated the king, the king didn’t die and the plotters were put to death because of their actions.

Now I want to tell you about another king. This king is also hated by a lot of people. Many people don’t want him on the throne and are quite willing to risk their own lives in order to get rid of him. Just like the gunpowder plotters, those who oppose this king face the very real prospect of death if they don’t manage to destroy him. The king I am talking about is the king of the whole universe: God.

When the gunpowder plot was discovered, those who hated the king were put to death. The king didn’t die, they didn’t manage to kick him off the throne, so the plotters had to die. But God has taken different approach. God himself came to earth, lived as a man and then died on a cross so that the people who hate him might not be destroyed but might come to know and love him.

Because King James didn’t die, the plotters had to die. But because King Jesus came and he did die, those who once hated God don’t have to be put to death. The Bible says, ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Jesus died on a Roman cross 2000 years ago so that you and I, who once hated him and wanted him off the throne so that we might rule our own lives in our own way, could come to know him and love him and receive forgiveness for our sins.

And so as we remember why we celebrate Bonfire Night and how, because King James didn’t die, the plotters were put to death, let’s remember that there is a greater king than James I. Because King Jesus died, we don’t have to face the death that our sin deserves. We can have eternal life in him. And we receive that life by putting our trust in him, by turning away from our sin, laying down our rebellion against his good rule, and submitting ourselves to him as our good and loving King.

If we want to be rid of Jesus, if we want to rule our own lives our own way, then we will face the same punishment as the gunpowder plotters. We will face eternal death and judgement. But because King Jesus died, we don’t have to. We can turn away from our treason, put our faith in him and receive eternal life in his name because he will have died for us. 

If you’d like to know more about how you can trust in jesus and know him as your king and saviour, why not talk one of the people from this church about how you can receive eternal life in him.