November 24, 2019 [Christ the King]  Colossians 1:13-20  J.D.Roekle

 

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 

 

And He Shall Reign Forever and Ever

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          On the game show Family Feud, hosted by Steve Harvey, contestants are asked to guess how 100 people responded to various survey questions. On a 2012 episode, a contestant had to provide the top answers to the following survey question: "When someone mentions 'the King,' to whom might he or she be referring?"  Can you guess who got he most votes?  The vast majority – 81 out of 100 said the King is Elvis Presley.  The other top vote getters?  Two people said “The Burger King”; three said “Martin Luther King, Jr.” and seven said “God or Jesus.”  The thing that is interesting to me is the fact that none of the 4 answers are really kings in the traditional sense of the word.  Merriam-Webster defines a king as: “a male monarch of a major territorial unit.” 

          Elvis? The Burger King?  Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Jesus?  None of them are rulers over a ‘territorial unit.’  And yet, the Bible speaks of Jesus as a King.  As the King.  He is a different kind of King. A King which the world has never seen before or since.  In fact, he is unique because of how long his reign lasts.  Netflix has a made for TV series called “The Crown” which documents the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  The interesting thing about that series is the fact that Queen Elizabeth is still on the throne as she has been for the last 67 years.  That’s quite a remarkable run!  Since she is in her 90s, we know her reign won’t last much longer.  However, Jesus’ reign is much longer.  Jesus’ reign never ends.  That’s good news for you and me!

 

          Even though we take one Sunday a year to acknowledge Christ as King, we confess that truth regularly.  In both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed we regularly confess Christ is King when we say that he is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty

How do you envision that?  Do you see the Father sitting on a throne, and Jesus sitting on a throne right next to him?  That certainly is the picture being portrayed, but Jesus isn’t sitting on a literal throne, is he?!  The picture is meant to relay to us that Jesus is in a position of ultimate power and authority.  He is God’s ‘right hand man.’ 

And as such, what has he done and what is he doing?  First of all, he has brought us into his kingdom.  When you live in a country, you know that there are defined physical borders surrounding it.  Those who rule that country rule only that which is inside the borders. 

Entering into Christ’s kingdom is different.  In fact, the kingdom comes to us.  It enters our hearts by faith.  And it is through the Word that this faith comes to us.  That’s why baptism is so crucial for infants and small children.  Since they cannot hear and comprehend the spoken Word of God, the Word of God connected with simple water brings Christ’s kingdom to their hearts. 

And think about why we can be a part of this kingdom to begin with.  By nature, we are enemies of God.  We are enemies of the king.  Paul told the Roman Christians that “the sinful mind is hostile to God.” 

Knowing that, why in the world would God even want us to be a part of his kingdom?!  God did not want us to reside in “the dominion of darkness.”  Even though we deserved it, God did not want us to be dominated by the powers of darkness:  Our sin and all its evil results, including death, eternal death, and of course, the devil. 

And so, God went to work by sending King Jesus to defeat those powers that threaten us with eternal harm.  But he didn’t defeat those enemies as we might expect him to.  In fact, the way that Jesus went about winning is something that puzzles the world.  We think of kings assembling great armies and conquering their enemies by force.  But this wasn’t the way it was with Jesus. 

It certainly puzzled Pontius Pilate.  Or maybe we should say that he didn’t really take Jesus’ claims very seriously.  The sign that he had placed above Jesus’ cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews,” was dripping with sarcasm.  Pilate didn’t really take his claim of royalty seriously, did he?  The rulers, soldiers, and even one of the criminals on the cross didn’t take Jesus seriously either.

But Jesus was a different kind of king.  And one of the thieves on the cross recognized that fact.  He knew Jesus was different.  That’s why he asked Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 

While we may know these words of this thief best, his other words on the cross also indicate that he knew Jesus was a different kind of king.  While the other thief taunted Jesus, this thief rebuked him saying: “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same condemnation? 41We are punished justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for what we have done, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 

Jesus didn’t really belong on the cross.  He had done nothing wrong.  And as others indicated, he had the power to come down from the cross.  And yet he stayed.  He stayed, because it is there on the cross that Jesus defeated our foes.  He conquered sin by becoming sin for us.  He conquered death by taking the threat of eternal death, hell, out of it.  In doing this, he reversed the work of Satan who was trying to drag the world down to his lair.  When he cried “It is finished” on the cross, his work to conquer our enemies and ensure our salvation was complete.

          In defeating all our enemies, King Jesus reaches out to us with something more valuable than all the money in the world.  He reaches out to us with the forgiveness of our sins.  And King Jesus has a wealth of forgiveness to dole out.  In fact, it’s limitless! 

          And that’s good to know, isn’t it?  After all, our natural tendency to oppose the throne of God is still with us.  If someone would threaten the throne of an earthly king, that person would be tried for treason, and may even be put to death.  But even as we assault the throne of God with our every sin, King Jesus continues to pardon us. 

          And he takes it even farther than that.  Not only does he pardon or forgive us, but he continues to protect us.  It is as if he sends a security detail to follow us around and ensure that our enemies can do us no harm. 

Not only does King Jesus promise to protect us, but he can back it up.  I’m reminded of the Halleluiah chorus of Handel’s Messiah.  “King of kings, and Lord of lords” rings out loudly.  He is above all authority.  Above all rulers that have ever lived.  He is the all-powerful Son of God who was there at creation; who came to save us by going the way of the cross; who rose victoriously from the grave; who ascended in triumph to heaven; and who sits in the greatest position of power possible.  And the Halleluiah chorus repeats the truth over and over: “…and He shall reign forever and ever…”     Who is THE King?  Many in the world may have their ideas.  But for you and me, there can be no doubt.  The King is Jesus!  Amen.