Christ the king – Sermon 320
- Christ the King
- 10.00am Holy Communion
- 24th November 2019
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for his own name’s sake.
The first two verses of a Hymn based on the 23rd Psalm –
The Psalm written by King David – that has warmed the hearts of Christians across generations
God – the great shepherd – caring for his sheep –leading Israel like a flock through the wilderness in the Exodus – the shepherd Moses striking their enemies with the rod – King David himself – called from looking after sheep to becoming the leader of God’s people –
But not all shepherds and Kings were like this –
Point 1 New Shoot from the Tree of Jesse
In our OT reading Jeremiah writes of the shepherds who were destroying the sheep –
The kings and their aids of Judah – the power – hungry leaders – with their corrupt public rituals – abusing God’s trust – and scattering the flock –
‘It is you who have – driven them away – not attended to them’ – ‘But I myself will gather the remnant of my flock – and bring them back to their fold’ –
Through Jeremiah God promises ‘a new shoot’ – a righteous branch’ – from David’s dynasty – who will execute justice and righteousness in the land …. And he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’.
He will be the perfect King – not in name – like the current king Zedekiah – but truly – one who reflects – the righteousness of God – and who will convey it to His people.
And in our NT we have one of the earliest of Christian hymns – giving us a picture of that King – which of course is Jesus –
Point 2 Paul – Like Father- like Son and more
Doesn’t he look like his dad – isn’t she like her mum – ‘those eyes – that nose – the spitting image of his mother’ – ‘the chin’ – ‘the mouth’ – the smile’ – she looks so much like her father’-
I remember once receiving a birthday card from one of my sons – which played on just that fact – my other son was horrified – to think he might one day look like me –
Of course – he was in his early teens at the time – he’s mellowed a bit since then –
The similarities between a parent and a child – can be remarkable – and that usually extends further than – just physical resemblances –
Like it or not – our gestures – our mannerisms – our temperaments – our attitudes – all betray our origins – more than we might realize –
Not that two people are ever the same – but there can be remarkable likenesses between them –
But however great these may be – they are nothing – compared with the likeness that Paul speaks of – in his letter to the Colossians – between Jesus and God –
It’s a parallel unlike any others – closer and more striking even than perfectly identical twins –
For the Son does not just resemble the Father – he fully and completely makes him known –
To know Jesus is to know God –
To look at his life is to see God at work –
To experience his love is to be touched by God’s love in turn –
The God who is enthroned in righteousness – mighty in power – greater than anything the human mind can comprehend – the author of all creation whose power sustains everything – the Holiest of Holy – who has become flesh – in Jesus – a son of mankind – ‘the son of man’ – sharing our humanity – and inviting us to share in His life –
Jesus is the full image of the invisible God – all things have been created for Him – and through Him – the first born of all creation and the first-born from the dead – through whom the world has been redeemed –
In Jesus we see God’s wonderous love for humanity and the extent of His grace and care.
Jesus is the head of the body – the church –bringing redemption – and the forgiveness of sins – whose name is greater than any other –
The more we look at Jesus – the more we see the true image of God – and the greatest King to have ever walked this earth –
And He came to this earth for one reason – to die so that we can live –
Point 3 Journey into Kingship
Today we live in a world mostly without kings and Queens – and the ones we do have, like our Queen Elizabeth II – have mainly ceremonial roles.
Yet we still imagine they have ruling roles – over us – Many children dream of being a prince or princess – many adults want the power and privilege – of being a monarch.
Whether we agree with monarchies or not – we think of and imagine great palaces, fine clothes, servants – people at our beg and call –
But it is hard to imagine a king on a cross –
Luke describes Jesus going to the place of the Skull to be crucified –
Here there are no fine robes but a naked and scarred body – beaten and whipped. His crown has no jewels, only vicious thorns. On his hands there are no rings of power, just the nails which fix him to a wooden cross – there is no golden throne – just two piece of blood stained twisted planks nailed together where they meet –
No courtiers – no servants – two criminals sharing his fate and a crowd of soldiers and spectators taunting and mocking him.
All the Gospels record the title which Pilate put over the cross. “This is the King of the Jews.”
The Jews didn’t like it because they knew it was as much a mockery of them as it was of Jesus. They tried to get it changed but couldn’t.
Whether they knew it or not, this – is the King of the Jews hanging on the cross – and much more – dying the death of a criminal – and bearing the sins of many even though he is innocent himself –
Luke tells us of Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness – and the conversation between Jesus and the two thieves – one echoing the insults of those around him – but the other acknowledging the truth of Jesus’ innocence and kingship – the reality of God’s judgement – and of his own guilt –
The man reaches out to Jesus as best he can – and receives a wonderful response – “remember me when you come into your kingdom”.
And even within the violence and the awfulness of that torture – Jesus offers words of forgiveness – His royalty shines out in his prayer and his promise – and we see a glimpse of the glory that is to be revealed – and the defeat of the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.
We have a King who is prepared to suffer alongside us. Not hold himself aloof – a King who experiences betrayal, savage injustice, brutal cruelty and utter humiliation and yet suffering on our behalf –
A King who has lived life as we live it – died as we must die but who now lives a new resurrection life. He reassures us and welcomes us into that same resurrection life in his Kingdom where we will know the peace and the healing which only He can bring.
Because of the darkness Jesus has endured for us on the cross – there is a way to God – Jesus has brought God’s Kingdom into our world – He has opened the gateway and brought us a pathway to heaven – available to us if we humbly come to Him in faith –
When we have the courage to accept God’s forgiveness – and promise – offered freely as it was to the thief – suffering on our behalf – then we will be able to fulfil our potential as God’s children – and reach out with love to those who still live in darkness – and help to bring them to the light –
Today is the last Sunday in the Church Year when we celebrate – the Feast Day of Jesus – ‘Christ the King’ – A King that’s stood on its head the meaning of Kingdom and kingship –
Our challenge will be to know Him as one who comes in humility, whose message starts with a manger rather than a jeweled crib – celebrating – with fishermen, beggars and prostitutes – a king concerned with justice rather than finery and possession – and who asks for followers rather than admirers-
who cares and guards – his flock -– is all mighty in power – and wisdom – greater than anything we can imagine – creator of the world and of us –
He suffered our humanity – fully experienced our lives and our death – brought us the pathway to heaven – to peace and forgiveness – and love –
Jesus is the way, the truth and the Life – and He brings into the lives of those who are willing to accept Him – Himself –
As members of His Kingdom – we are not just called to speak or sing about Him – but to be part of Him – and He is inviting us today – to do and be just that – what will our response be?
Prayer to finish
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.