Sermon delivered on Christ the King Sunday B, November 25, 2018 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.
If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of todays’s sermon, click here.
Lectionary texts: Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1.4-8; John 18.33-37.
An internet meme that was circulating several weeks during the presidential election, a picture of Jesus Christ, the King and it said “no matter who is elected President, Jesus Christ is still the King.” Never have we needed to hear that message more than we’ve needed it at this present time.
It’s Christ the King Sunday. This beautiful feast emerged from a period of great persecutions. It is not an ancient feast. It was first added in 1925 by the Roman Catholic Church in response to increasing secularization movements in the world wide, but in particular to the plight of Mexican Christians who were being told by the government that the government was due ultimate allegiance. At that time, it was strong sense of symbolic power. The Russian communists came to power with the Revolution of October 1917 and Italian Fascists in October 1922 with their march on Rome. The specific instance for the pope to make it a solemn feast was the martyrdom of the Catholic priest, Father Miguel Pro, during the revolution in Mexico whose shout and gesture just before his execution,
“Viva Cristo Rey!” rang throughout the entire church. The institution of this feast was almost an act of defiance by the church against the dictators who at the time were seeking to make absolute their own political ideologies, insisting boldly that no earthly power, no particular political power, military dictatorship is ever absolute. The feast was and is restate that only the kingdom of God is Absolute. And that this kingdom is everyone’s source of power. The year 1925 was also the sixteenth century of the Council of Nicaea which in the year 325 defined, proposed and added to the Creed the words “of His Kingdom there will be no end.”
So today our voices come alongside those persecuted for their faith in all times and places, including in Mexico in the early twentieth century and the thousands facing persecution all over the world this very day, and with them we all proclaim in many languages, “Christ is King! Cristo Rey!”
We read in the scripture that Christ is the King. It starts with the expression “King of Israel and extended to that of universal King, Lord of the cosmos, and of history. The testimonies of prophets is abundant. In Samuel, we learn part of the Old Testament definition, as Jewish Kings were expected to be different from their gentile counterparts. Initially led by Judges, the Israelites prayed to God to appoint a Jewish King. Saul was the first, but David demonstrated better than any other monarch of Yahweh’s care and concern for His chosen people. David was expected to “shepherd” His people, not to lord it over them. He was expected to be outward sign of Yahweh’s care and love.
The same doctrine of the Kingship of Christ which we find in the O.T is more clearly taught and confirmed in the N.T. The early followers of Jesus were just as convinced that God’s care and love for them was demonstrated through Jesus of Nazareth’s life, death and resurrection. The historical Jesus is the outward sign of God’s kingdom of love and Truth.
Standing before Pilate in the Pretorium, the very heart of political power, Jesus bears witness to the Truth that real power is not the ability to coerce others, but the strength to love; that true control is about the self-sacrifice; that the real life is found only through death itself. In doing so Jesus turns our human values upside down and proclaims a new and radical form of kingship. In this encounter with Pilate, Jesus Christ offers an example for all, who like Christ, are called to bear witness to the Truth through their lives. Throughout in the Gospel of Luke’s passion narrative, no matter how much pain Jesus is suffering, he is always concerned for others.
The cross is the paradoxical sign of His Kingship, which consists in following the loving will of God the Father in response to the disobedience of sin. It is very offering of Himself in the sacrifice of his life that Jesus becomes King of the universe. After the Resurrection he declares to his apostles: “all authority in heaven and on earth has given to me.” Matthew 28:18
Regardless of who is in Washing or who rules in the capitals of the world, Jesus Christ is the only one true King of the universe. Because “Jesus Christ same yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8. The Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, all things belongs to him, and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age forever.” Amen.
In what does the power of Jesus Christ the King consist?
It is not the power of great people of this world. It is the power of Love that can save the human race from evil, sin and death. Jesus showed us his greatest humility and love. Jesus alone could justify the glory of God. Because he is anointed one, the messiah, the true king.
Personally, I don’t like the earthly kings who made his people slaves, who were power minded and wealth minded, who ruled the people unjustly and showed prejudices. They were the cause of violence and wars. They were the cause of death of millions of innocent people. Of course even today we see same kind of things going on in the world with the different name tags like dictatorship in North Korea and kings in the Middle East countries; presidents and prime ministers with their discrimination based on regions, color and religions.
I want King Jesus, who loves me, who makes me rich in virtues and blesses me with His grace. I need Jesus my king who is absolutely Truthful, absolutely Peaceful, absolutely Loving and absolutely Compassionate. I desire the king who can save me from this evil and unjust world.
If we choose the evil king he would poison us and destroy us. Whom do you want to choose? The earthly kings, who make us slaves or the heavily king Jesus who grants you freedom and eternal life.
Jews wanted king like other nations in the beginning and when the true king Jesus came they rejected him. They said to Piolet we have no king but Caesar. The consequences for not accepting Jesus as the only true king will be perishing and can’t enter the kingdom of God.
When Pilate asked Jesus, Are you the King of Jews? Jesus answered “I came into the world to testify to the truth and everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” I accept whole heartedly that Jesus is my king and my all. He owns my life and I belong to him and I listen to His voice of love, truth and his teaching of kingdom of God.
“Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6
What does it mean to say that Christ is my King?
It means that I belong to Jesus. I obey His commandments. I submit totally to His love. I trust in Him. I have faith and hope in Him that he would grant me His eternal life. I am convinced that Jesus is the son of ever Living God, the Messiah, who died for my sins, who utterly spends Himself in love and in Him I subject to the Mercy and love of the God the Father.
Who do I want to follow?
Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to world’s criteria, but assures the true peace and true joy that Christ the King alone can give us. Choosing Christ is to make one’s life into sign of the Cross, preach Christ by daily living in His Truth in mind, heart and will. It demands loving voluntary commitment in doing God’s will. You and I have to take upon ourselves the yoke of Christ to be saved. It is your choice, your freedom to make Christ your king or not.
Let us not be Saturday or Sunday Christians. Society without Christ is chaos. You and I can’t make any difference being namely baptized Christians. To accept Jesus is to avoid sin.
I would like to use the analogy to help us realize the necessity to make sincere efforts and importance of being practical Christians.
Let us say you want to become good musician as a pianist or guitarist, or violin. What do you do? You practice it day after day and your hands would be paining, sometimes you would feel discouraged. You have to spend time months and years in practice and you should persuade it till you feel confidence to play well the music instrument.
In the same way to be citizen of Kingdom of God, you and I must accept Jesus as our king and keep the commandment of unselfish love till our last breath.
The church prays to the Father in every Eucharistic celebration that Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done. Matthew 6:10. She lives in fervent expectation of an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of Truth and the Life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice, peace and love. This expectation of the Lord is our constant source of confidence and strength.
Please say with me “Viva Cristo Rey!” Christ is the King. Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. Amen.