Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we honor You as our King. We come to offer You our bodies and our souls as living sacrifices in service to Your kingdom. O, how joyous it is to know that You’re in charge of all things for our eternal good. And how joyous it is to know that we truly can make a difference in this world by letting Your light shine in our lives! In view of all this, we honor You, we praise You, we bless You and we thank You—our eternal King. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE KING!
TEXT: Revelation 1: 4-8
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
This is the 3rd introduction and the 2nd sermon I’ve written this week to share with you this morning. Obviously, I haven’t been too happy with the previous efforts. My problem is that ever-present dilemma of how to make a text come alive for you, the hearers. And the crux of the issue is that the whole concept of a king is foreign to our way of thinking. We have participatory government in which we vote for leaders. In our system of rule no one person is supreme. Also, leaders change on a regular basis via elections. Because of all that, we Americans have a built-in mistrust of a ruler who is all-powerful. We like change. We like having someone in power reflect the wishes of the masses.
Well, my first introduction revolved around the idea that a benevolent King who is born and raised for his office is comforting in that he would never put up with political grid-lock and would actually get things done the right way. Such a king would not be swayed by emotionalism or the whims of his subjects, but would lead them with true justice and morality. Of course, the problem with that is our built-in mistrust of such a leader because outside of Christ, they don’t exist. So, the comparison limps a lot. My second intro pointed out that politicians always disappoint us because no matter how idealistic they are when they assume office, power eventually corrupts them and they become more and more distant from us. Then, I went on to point out that Christ does exactly the opposite. He “laid down His life” for His subjects and still is directly involved in our lives each day in protecting and guiding us. I used the theme: This King (meaning Christ) Honors You With His Life. That sermon was o.k. until I visited one of our older members and shared our text with her. Afterwards we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together and when we said those familiar words: “Thy Kingdom Come” it struck me that I could do better with today’s sermon. So now, as we celebrate Christ the King, I want to focus your attention on those familiar words:
THY KINGDOM COME!
Dr. Luther gave this explanation of those familiar words in the catechism. “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our asking. But we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also. How is this done? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we may believe His holy word and live Godly lives both here in time and hereafter in eternity.”
In our Gospel lesson Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king. Jesus responds by saying: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
This interchange shows the age-old problem that sinners have in understanding both Christ and His kingdom. We humans are stuck in the here and now. We judge things strictly by what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and experience through our senses. Christ is a King? Human flesh says: “Well, tell me another whopper!” Divine Kings don’t die. Divine Kings Who are all-powerful and all-loving don’t allow unjust wars to happen, innocent little kids to die, or disasters to reek havoc and pain and death throughout this world. If Christ is our King, why do Christians suffer? Why do they lose their jobs? Why do they get cancer? Why do they die? Why do the forces of evil seem to have the upper hand? Of course, the answer is: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
As Christians we actually live in two realms. We live in the kingdom of the world and in the kingdom of God’s grace. Moreover, the two are not synonymous. So, we dare not apply sin-tainted human logic to try to pick away at or redefine God’s eternal realm where our souls will dwell forever.
We resent earthly leaders who are know-it-alls. We resent it when they tell us that they know what’s good for us eventhough it means pain or suffering. And then we vote them out of office! So, when Christ the King allows war and violence and pain and death to invade planet earth, we say: “Not fair! Do something!” And then when we hear that He allows evil to afflict us in order to re-awaken consciences toward genuine morality, or uses it for a good purpose in order for cultures or nations to repent of their sins and turn to Him alone for help, well, that answer is an affront to our pride. That answer says that we don’t know it all and that there’s a bigger kingdom out there than planet earth. And our senses balk at such a thought. So, in the final analysis, it all comes down to whom do you trust?—God or yourself?
Personally, I find it terribly comforting to know that the weight of the world isn’t on my shoulders, or the President of the United States shoulders, but instead is on Christ’s shoulders. I find it comforting to know that God Almighty sets limits to evil here in time. I find it comforting to know that the ultimate uncertainty of death has been taken care of by His death in my place on the cross and by His rising to a new life, an eternal existence of joy, all for my sake. I find it comforting to know that my King guides my life, protects me, won’t let me be tempted beyond what I can bear, and that I can talk to Him in prayer knowing that He not only hears such prayers but that they can change the course of history. I know all that because my King has honored me with His life. And I also know that no matter how much we humans botch up His creation, we don’t have to put up with it forever because He’s coming back at just the right time to take us into glory. Because of all this, I have peace inside. Because of all this, I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil for His rod and staff will comfort me. Mere human leaders will never have all the answers. But, God Almighty does have the answers and the solution to our pain—His undeserved love in Christ our King which nothing can destroy. With that in mind we listen to and rejoice over St. John’s words: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end), says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Yes, today we pray: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We pray knowing that through faith in Christ His love, mercy, perfect justice, and eternal life will protect and envelop our souls as we wait on eternity. Amen