March 9, 2016

     One of Peter Marshall’s favorite sermon illustrations, especially in the early years of his ministry, was “THE KING IS IN THE AUDIENCE.” It was a vivid word picture of a scene typical of a London theater. He described the waiting audience filing slowly in seats that tipped down with a welcoming clatter. The cheerful conversation that spread from row to row and spilled into the foyer. He spoke of the orchestra emerging, stooping, tuning instruments; of the scenes backstage – ropes, cables, hoisting gear being tried out; lights being focused and shutters placed in readiness.
     In the dressing room each mirror framed a face being made up. Finally warning lights winked backstage. Silence…places…The overture had begun. But in the middle, a phrase is broken off; the orchestra stops abruptly. There is a moment of deathly silence – then the stately, thrilling strains of the National Anthem are heard.
     In the wings, the stage manager and director ran excitedly from group to group, “Give it all you’ve got tonight. Play as you’ve never played before.” People asked, “Why? Why this commotion?” “Because the King is in the audience.”
     For Peter Marshall it was a parable of human life. His message was that the King in not in the audience just for one night, that the King is not confined to the church. He is in His world, all of His world, in the joy and in the heartbreak. He is in the laughter of children, but also with old people left without affection; in the healthy fun of youth, but also with wives lonely at home. The King is standing beside the bride with shining eyes, but He is also suffering with the one on the sickbed, or with the men who must live beneath the thunder of the guns and the whine of shells.
     Then Dr. Marshall would tell his congregation, “The King is in this audience. You may whisper your prayer to the King now.”