Manage episode 192395617 series 1126604
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:: Scripture and Music ::
Crown Him with Many Crowns (DIADEMATA)
Lion of Judah (Robin Mark)
Revelation Song (Jenny Lee Riddle)
:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.
Today is what is called “Christ the King Sunday.” As you may know, the Christian Church has organized the calendar year in such a way as to tell the biblical story year after year. Some individual churches use this church calendar more than others, but almost everyone observes Christmas and Easter and the seasons leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth and resurrection. Next Sunday we will begin Advent, and will begin looking forward to Christmas. But today, is really the end and culmination of the church calendar because we celebrate Christ as King. Next Sunday we start telling the story all over again.
You have already heard bookend scriptures on the Kingship of Christ. You just heard the covenant promise to King David that would culminate in the coming and reign of Christ. The call to worship described the final scene of Christ as King, victorious over the powers of evil and death. But in another sense, the whole biblical story points towards that ending. And so during the sermon I will read several texts which name Christ as King, to remind us that at every point in history, and at every point in our own lives, Jesus Christ IS King of kings and Lord of Lords. That is something for which I am so thankful and it is Good News indeed! Let’s look briefly at each of these texts.
Promised King (2 Samuel 7)
Let’s start with the text from 2 Samuel. The point I want to make here is that the birth of God’s Messiah as “King” was promised ahead of time. One approach to Jesus is to believe that he was an ordinary man (and baby) who God blessed in a special way and set apart. But that is not the biblical story. From the beginning of time God planned to send His Son into the world to make a way for us to be restored to relationship with God. From the earliest parts of scripture, in the stories and promises of God’s people, and reaching as far as the magi or three wise men, God’s promise of a King was known. This promise was implicit in the curse and promise in the Garden and in the covenant with Abraham. It was made explicit in the covenant with David that you just heard. God told David:
12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
At first the passage goes on to say “when he commits iniquity” (v.14) which points towards David’s son, Solomon, as the fulfilment of promise. But then God goes on to say, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (v. 16) This points far beyond any earthly, human kingdom to the God’s own eternal Kingdom, with Christ as the eternal kingly heir of David. In good Hebrew prophetic manner, BOTH can be true at once. For example, “He shall build a house for my name” (v. 13) seems to describe Solomon, who builds the Temple David began to plan for the Lord. But Jesus also speaks of tearing down the earthly Temple and rebuilding it in three days (with the Temple of his resurrected body). So again, there can be an immediate aspect and application of God’s words as well as an eternal and spiritual one. And, as the Gospel writers go to lengths to demonstrate in their opening genealogies, Jesus is of the royal line of David on both his biological mother and legal father’s sides. He fulfills this 1000 year old promise to King David, which became both the hope and message of many of the prophets as well as the popular hope of the Jewish people.
Expected King (Matthew 2)
Matthew 2:1-6 is a familiar text, particularly as we enter into the Christmas season. Listen as I read that. Matthew tells us that just after Jesus was born, magi (the “wise men”) from the east came to find him.
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
The wise me traveled and came to the ruler of Judea, Herod the King. They asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (v.2) Of course, this led to trouble with Herod; but the point is that Jesus birth was no accident, nor was the arrival of this “King of the Jews.” He was the fulfillment of God’s promises from the beginning of time.
Sent King (Matthew 21)
From this account of the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, let’s jump to Matthew 21:1-11, to the end of Jesus’ earthly life. This is the great Palm Sunday text, where the people welcome Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!”
1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 “If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
When Jesus sends the disciples to find a donkey, he quotes the prophet Isaiah, “Behold your King is coming to you…” (v.5). And indeed, the crowds went on to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as a King and hero, shouting for him to save them. The people were waiting for a Savior-King, and thought Jesus might just be that one who would set them free from the oppression and rule of the Roman army. We’ve talked about Palm Sunday before – how the expectations and dreams of a Savior-King were close, but missed the reality of who Jesus was. People were looking for a political Savior rather than a personal and spiritual Savior. Nonetheless, this does not take away from the “sentness” of Jesus as the Savior and King promised and sent from God.
The King who Suffered (Matthew 27)
Fast forward just five days in the life of Jesus and you reach the scene in Matthew 27:27-44. There, he is being tortured and crucified, but not before being mocked with purple robes and a crown of thorns as the “King of the Jews.” This description, which had been with him all his life, was affixed over his head on a sign on the cross.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. 35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Jesus our King, suffered and was taken captive and defeated before, as Ephesians 4 describes, he took captivity captive and released us all from our chains. If you have never seen or read the great depiction of this scene in C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it is well worth doing! Jesus as suffering King is another reminder of our God, who does not remain hidden and aloof in the far reaches of Heaven, but who has come all the way down to where we are to plunge into the depth of human experience and rescue us, employ us, and bring us home.
The Returning King (Revelation 17)
Finally, I want to point you to Revelation, to the verse that began our service. It is Revelation 17:14, which reads:
“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Not only is Jesus the promised and sent King who has suffered with us and for us; he is also the returning King, who will come to establish God’s reign forever. And look at that wording – “those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Those are all words we have used to describe what it is God saves us for. God doesn’t just save us for Heaven, but saves us for His work here on earth. That’s what called and chosen and faithful describes – you and me engaged in the Lord’s work. That’s what it means to be with Him!
The King who Saves Us
Christ the King Sunday and these connected texts describing Jesus as King are a fitting last word for the Christian calendar year as well as for our struggles, hurts, and fears. Hear this Good News – Jesus is God’s final Word! Our trouble, discouragement, and doubt – even our sin and death – have not and do not take God by surprise, though they certainly can take us by surprise. Sickness, job loss, family issues, wars, conflict, finances, anxiety, nor anything else – even death – takes God by surprise, though those things can lay us low or overwhelm us. The Good News is that from the beginning of time, promised from the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed and turned from God, God has purposed to send His Son into the world to face what we face and to emerge victorious over it all with all who believe in tow. This is no magic wand for trouble and sorrow; but it is Good News. God is here; God is not surprised, nor reeling defensively from the things that knock our feet out from under us. Rather, God has acted with all the foresight, wisdom, and compassion of a Heavenly Father to send us real help in times of real trouble.
Jesus is Savior and King, and at the end of the day, as God’s called, chosen, and faithful ones, there is no better place we could be than with Him at His side. And there is no better place to put your trust, offer your prayers, and rest your hope, than in the King who saves us. Amen.
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