Let us pray: Dear Savior, although You are the King of all kings and no human power dare even grovel at Your feet and expect any blessing as a result, we know that when we approach You we have nothing to fear. We know that You are kind beyond all words, loving beyond all telling, and compassionate beyond all human comprehension. You proved all this by always meeting us, Your subjects, in humility. Moreover, in such humbleness You won an eternal victory over sin, Satan, and death itself. For all this we embrace You with our praise and thanksgiving. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE KING!
TEXT: Luke 23: 35-43
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Who Are Being Embraced By Their King:
I think it was Shakespeare who once wrote in a play: “Uneasy likes the head that wears the crown.” It’s true, humanly speaking. Any political or business leader is constantly pressured on countless fronts. Ultimate responsibility for the people they serve rests upon their shoulders. If something goes wrong, they must take the blame. And even if everything seems to be going well, there’s always the unknown lurking out there and there’s always someone who wants to take their place, to knock them off their throne.
For these reasons, such leaders develop a hard exterior with the passage of time. History shows us that the longer they are in office, the more they adopt an imperious attitude. Slowly but surely, even someone who entered his or her position as “a man of the people” changes. They become more distant, more judgmental, and more arrogant. Eventually such leaders rule solely through fear and it boosts their ego even more.
It is human nature to anthropomorphize any conceptualization of god. Outside of Christianity, all world religions do this. Every one of them as invented a picture of their god that portrays him or her as a tough, hard-edged being who makes tough, sometimes impossible demands upon their subjects. And so those subjects attempt to placate that god and get on their good side by a moral lifestyle, or rigid worship, or daily prayer. And even then, those subjects are left with the inner uncertainty as to whether any of it has been enough to escape that god, that king’s, wrath. Well, such is the nature of all human religions.
But, of course, Christianity isn’t merely a manmade religion. It is God made. And one of the things that marks it as: God made, is how our King, Jesus Christ, actually interacts with us, His subjects. Throughout the Bible we see something quite strange and something quite wonderful in that.—
OUR KING ALWAYS MEETS US IN HUMILITY!
Go back to the manger. Yes, angel hosts appeared and sang. But when the shepherds got to Bethlehem, the actual King was lying in a manger, small, vulnerable, and perhaps crying. Talk about a humble beginning. When our King was a twelve year old boy in the temple, He didn’t imperiously dictate to those assembled theologians, yet they were amazed at His learning. And then when mom and dad came and chewed him out for being absent, He willing bowed His head and followed them home. When He called His disciples to their work He didn’t ride in on a warhorse or offer them human applause and big salaries. He didn’t pick nobles and princes and captains of industry to be His lieutenants. No, He met them one-on-one at the seashore, in the market, or through some relative. He picked simple, humble people because that is what our King really is: simple and humble to the core.
Later on, Christ our King worked countless miracles. He wowed the masses such as in feeding the 5000. He saved a lifetime of embarrassment for a young married couple in Cana. He met the adulterous woman at the well and saved her soul. He healed 10 lepers and simply sent them home without fanfare. The people present applauded as He gave sight to the blind. They were amazed as He enabled the paralytic to rise up and walk. And during all this our King never really changed at all! He didn’t develop a big head. He didn’t become arrogant. He never demanded more from anyone than He, Himself, was willing to give.
By the time Holy Week rolled around, Christ the King entered Jerusalem—how? “Riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He came in humility to meet His fate, to die for the sins of the world. He didn’t fight that ordained fate. No, it was the very reason He was born into this world—to save sinners like us. Later on when Peter drew his sword to defend his King, Christ would have none of it. Then He healed Malchus’ cut-off ear and humbly allowed Himself to be lead away to those unjust trials before Caiaphas and Pilate. Now we meet Him hanging on the cross. The soldiers who nailed Him to the cross issued this challenge: “If you are the king of Jews, save yourself.” They said that because Pilate had a sign affixed to Jesus’ cross which said: “This is the king of the Jews.” Certainly any other King, any human king with almighty powers would have done so. For all human kings love themselves more than their people—no matter what they say. Even one of the terrorists hanging next to Him issued a surly challenge: “Aren’t you the Christ? (the Messiah of God) Save yourself and us!”
This man thought of God merely in human terms. No human would embrace a cross, so therefore no god would either. Humans aren’t that humble, so therefore no god could be either. So this Christ must be a fake….
The other fellow hanging next to Jesus had been deeply moved in his soul by Jesus’ demeanor and words. He had come to saving faith. And so, he rebukes his fellow terrorist and stands up to defend Jesus. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
It is then that he adds: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” To which Jesus gives the most profound and comforting of answers: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Yes, Jesus ordained to meet this man on the cross on literally the 11th hour in order to save His soul. He met him in the most humbling of circumstances—dying by crucifixion. And He proved the depths of humility He would endure to save sinners—including you and me.
Has Jesus changed in any essential way since that fateful yet wonderful day? Now that He reigns in heavenly splendor, do you think He has forgotten His human roots, as it were? Of course not! Neither has He forgotten His divine roots! For humility is the core essence of God. That’s what the Bible means when it says: “God is love.” Perfect, pure, unchanging love. And so, this very day God Almighty, the only God there is, still meets us in humbleness. He meets and greets us. He talks to us and uplifts us. He watches over us and comforts us with that exact same humble heart. This occurs in baptism, through simple bread and wine where He joins Himself to such elements via His almighty Word of promise, and also through the simple, humble words of Scripture whereby His quiet voice instructs us and forgives us for our unfaithfulness to Him.
Jesus still meets us in humility today! Think about that and contrast it to any known human ruler on this planet. Isn’t such a King alone deserving of your heart? Isn’t He, alone, deserving of your praise? And doesn’t His uniqueness stand out as the shining beacon of light that it actually is? Human arrogance lead to our downfall, but Divine humility has to lead to our salvation. O, my friends, we are truly blest to be served by such a King! Amen