November 20, 2005: Look To Christ And Be Astounded!

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we have come to honor You with our hearts, our hands, and our voices.  We have also come to have You honor us with Your love, care, compassion, and forgiveness for every one of our sins.  What a blessing!  What a joy!  Thank You for uplifting us on eagle’s wings and teaching us the exalted nature of genuine humility.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE KING OF ALL CREATION!

TEXT:  Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 23-24

Fellow Redeemed Sinners Honored By God Almighty:

President Reagan used to chop wood at his ranch and the photographers loved it.  President Bush occasionally spends time clearing bush in Texas at his ranch and the photographers sometimes snap off a shot.  They do this because it portrays the most powerful person on earth as a “man of the people.”

Personally, I like the story told to one of our members by the 1st President Bush about his son.  It seems last Memorial Day weekend that whole clan was enjoying the weekend up at Kennebunkport.  Sunday morning rolled around and “W” was with his father reading the Sunday paper with his feet propped up on the coffee table.  Barbara Bush came into the room and said: “George, get your feet off the table.”  The elder Bush replied to his wife: “Barbara, you’re speaking to the most powerful man on earth, our President.”  To which she replied, “Yes, but he’s still my son.”  And with that “W” removed his offending feet!

We’ve all grown up with the concept that powerful people don’t get their hands dirty and engage in cleaning the toilet or taking out the garbage.  And if, or when, you actually hear of them being “normal” and engaged in such mundane tasks, it is a bit astounding.  Well, today on Christ the King Sunday, we can and should be astounded!  And so as we study this little lesson from Ezekiel,

LOOK TO CHRIST AND BE ASTOUNDED!

I

The American President is powerful, yet he or she is not above the law.  In our day Presidents don’t make the law and they are not a law unto themselves.  However, that was not always the case.  In ancient times, the whole concept of a King included being above the mundane and  being answerable to no one.  The King was the country.  The King was the law.  The King was god-like in most of those cultures.  This coalesced into something called “the divine right of kings.”  That is, Kings were considered God’s representatives on this earth, and hence were above the fray.

When Ezekiel, the prophet, wrote these words he was a captive in a backwater city in Babylon.  Literally he was a “nothing.”  Likewise, the Jews were nothings.  To the ruling authority they were slaves, people who were disposable.   Any idea of being special or important were meaningless terms.  Indeed, the very concept that the King of Babylon would leave his palace, seek them out, and personally attend to their needs would have been deemed a reason to send them to the psycho ward.  And yet, God uses this very imagery to describe what He Himself, the King of all Creation, would do to deliver His people.  Astonishing?  Even that word cannot describe it!

II

100 odd years before Ezekiel, the prophet Isaiah penned many words about how God would send a Suffering Servant to save His people.  Of course, Isaiah was referring to Jesus Christ.  His words are astounding, too.  God would suffer willingly to save sinners?  God would get His hands dirty and sweat great drops of blood to buy terrorists against His holy will back from an eternal death penalty?  God would die on a cross for you and me?  Astounding!  Yet true….

Here the Sovereign Lord says: “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them…I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.  I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel…I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.  There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.  I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

In this section of our text God uses the word “I” 12 times!  God, Who cannot lie, is not kidding!  He pledges to get his hands dirty in saving us.  He pledges sweat equity when it comes to working out our salvation with fear and trembling.  No soul is beneath His tender care.  No soul is unimportant.  He will do it because mere humans cannot make us right with God and take us to heaven—that’s the imagery of the ultimate “good grazing land.”

And exactly how will God become so involved in freeing us from guilt, shame, lost-ness, and the devil’s terrorist attacks?  By sending us a Champion, a heavenly King Who will roll up His sleeves and get Himself dirty with our sin in order to pull us out from such filth and shame.  He will send us such a King, like David of old, but better.  He will send us Christ, His One and Only Son!  “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.  I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.  I the Lord have spoken.”

III

Every time you crack your Bible and listen anew to what God has done to free your conscience and your soul from the ravages of sin, it is astonishing!  Why?  Why would God care so much about us?  After all, we’re nothings.  We have nothing to offer Him but our rebellious attitude and ungrateful hearts.  Are we more important than angels?  Are we that special?  YES!  YES!  And YES!  Special not because of our ability or goodness, but special because God loves us in Jesus Christ, the King!  Indeed, He loved and loves us enough to shoulder our worries and carry our sorrows.  He loves us enough to die in our place in order to make us right, eternally right, with His Holy Father.  He loves us enough to prepare a place in heaven just for us so that we can grace His table there forever.

Christianity is the most astonishing religion in the world.  For in Christianity alone, God does all the giving, He does all the honoring, and we do all the receiving.  Amazing.  So, my friends, look to Christ and be astounded!  Be honored that the Sovereign Lord honors You with His grace and goodness every week—especially here at His church.  Yes, to such a King what else can we do than bend the knee willingly and gratefully?  Amen