Saturday, November 19, 2016

Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday
20 November 2016

Luke 23:35-43
Jesus Lord at Thy Death

Lord, increase our eagerness to do Your will and help us to know the saving power of Your love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[1]

Jesus is dying on the cross. And yet, we celebrate the festival of Christ the King. How so? Execution as a criminal is usually considered a time of disgrace and defeat. Critics at the cross acknowledge this by saying, “He saved others, let Him save himself…If you are the king…save yourself.” In a few weeks at Christmas, we will be singing a line of “Silent Night” which says, “Jesus Lord at Thy birth.” Can we sing today, “Jesus Lord at Thy death”?

See how Jesus is Lord even at His death.

1.       He was Lord over His enemies by not responding to their insultsAnd the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine - and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"  Vv. 35-37

A.      See Ps. 22  
a.       The Psalmist speaks of a man being mocked, which is similar in the descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion.

b.      The Psalmist reminds us, “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." Jesus’ enemies taunted him by saying, "He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him."

c.       The Psalmist speaks of a man who would be surrounded by others who stared and   gloated at him. This too was the situation for Jesus during His crucifixion.

 d.    Here we find a wonderful picture of Jesus, the suffering servant. He willingly and obediently went to the cross. He could have turned away. He did not have to die for us. Willingly and obediently, He bore the cross, the agony, the sufferings He endured the cross and its shame. He bore your sins in His own body. He died for you in your place. He withstood the insults, the criticisms; the harsh tones the mistreatment and abuse.

  e.      He simply prayed: “Father, forgive them…Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”  Such patience is hard to imagine. But He took this. For He knew that this was the only way to merit and win salvation for you.  There was no other way to save you. There can be no other options.  For you to receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation look only to Christ and Christ alone. Your own works will not do. Your own will cannot sustain you. Only in Christ is the salvation and life. On this Christ the King Sunday let this be known that Jesus has borne for you the cruelty of the cross and in that cross of Christ you now glory.  The cross stands as a sign and a seal of your forgiveness.

B.      See Ps.69 - Psalm 69 is, after Psalms 22, the most quoted or alluded to psalm in the NT

a.       The Psalmist speaks saying, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” This is exactly what Jesus’ experienced when He was handed over to be crucified.

b.      The Psalms - read, prayed, and memorized for a thousand years before Jesus was born speak volumes to us observing Christ’s passion from afar. These words, were literally being fulfilled on the day Christ died.

C.      Notice - a little word is added here, "if" - “Let him save himself “if” he is the Christif” he is of God…”if” he is the Chosen one…”if” you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”  A doubting and cynical world is always suspicious, always distrusting, constantly questioning, suspecting, hesitant, and skeptical.  

Behold your dying King. Yet in His death, you are washed, you sin is gone and you are forever free.

2. He was Lord in His power to save sinners –   One of the criminals who were hanged railed at (blasphemed) him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"  But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “In the same judgment we are” And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me (whenever) you come into your kingdom." Vv. 39-43

A.      Notice this thief is doing more than joining the mocking...A double negative is given. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself including us.” Yet,   Jesus Christ Reigns, Enduring the Cross Its Scorn and Shame.

B.      He truly is “the King”, who governs His Church with all authority in heaven and on earth. He has come into His kingdom by His cross, and He graciously remembers us in paradise. Therefore, do not weep for Him, but with repentant faith “weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). Then the mountains and hills of Jerusalem, His holy Church, shall cover you with His righteousness and peace. For He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15).

C.       As King, Jesus enters His kingdom as He remembers you. "All things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16), and “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” bodily in Him, reconciling all things to Himself. You are now joined with Him and are one with Him “by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).

 The Lord Jesus reigns in love among those who are baptized in His name. He says, “They shall be mine,” “and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” (Malachi 3:17). Our God reigns. By the power of His cross. Lifted up. He draws all men to Himself.  

Jesus’ service through crucifixion for sinful men anchors us in new life. In the proclamation of His Son, the Father makes His justice clear, defining “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked” (Malachi 3:18). Spurn not this cross. It is repulsive. On it is a man despised and rejected. Yet through this cross and by it He will draw all men to Himself.   

We have come to the conclusion of yet another church year, it began in our anticipation of the coming of Christ at Christmas, and as we celebrated His nativity, we saw that He was the One sent from God. We walked with Him during His passion in the Holy season of Lent, and in the Easter and Pentecost season, we meditated upon His words, which bring salvation and life.

Next week will mark a new church year season, and we will again walk with the Savior.  May our worship, our work, our prayers, our service be dedicated to Him who is the way the truth and the Life, for truly His is the Lord and King of all.

Words – 1,245
Passive Sentences –11%
Reading Ease –77%
Reading Level -5.6
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

[1] Prayer for Sunday of the Week of Pentecost 27, “For All the Saints, a Prayer Book For and By the Church” American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, © 1995 Delhi, NY

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