The King Who Failed

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Matthew 27:27-31, New International Version

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

All in All

 

Christ the King

The last Sunday of the church year emphasizes the Christian’s final status. Today we gather in Thanksgiving that we have an eternal king that protects us now and into eternity. Give thanks to the Lord, the King, who will come and raise his harvest home! 

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[a] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Behold the King!

The last Sunday of the church year emphasizes the Christian’s final status. Today we gather in thanksgiving that we have an eternal king that protects us now and into eternity. Give thanks to the Lord, the King, who will come and raise his harvest home!

City of Peace

Right now we fight the good fight, and run the race laid out for us as a part of the church militant. Today we remember those who are in the church triumphant, right now, with the Lord at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Review the Judges Verdict

Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming!  Scripture is very clear that there will come a day when all who rejected Christ will be repaid for their evil.  The Christian need not fear this day!  For it will be the first day of eternal bliss in heaven!

Repeat the battle cry of the Archangel

16th Sunday of Pentecost, the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels. Why celebrate this festival of St. Michael and all angels? And why if Michael is an angel do we call him a saint?
What we are doing is not teetering into Catholicism by worshiping angels. Rather this service is a distinctly Christian thing to do. We are reminded today that our Lord Jesus commands his angels concerning us. Calling the archangel Michael a “saint” is not worshiping him. Rather, this fits well the definition of what a saint is, namely someone who is forever in God’s holy presence in heaven. It is in His presence we all will be one day with all the saints of God. There we will dwell and serve our God with his angels forever in glory!

The Eternal King Advances Your Cause!

Christ the King Sunday
Daniel 7:13-14

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His own blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father, to him be glory forever and ever amen! In the name of Jesus, who will come as King of kings and Lord of lords to judge the living and the dead, dear brothers and sisters in Christ: How do you feel about things going on in the world today? Last week there was a tragic terrorist bombing in Paris, more threats keep coming, Isis seems to be gaining in power, people are concerned about the possibility of refugees coming to America with evil intentions, political debates are heating up as enter another presidential election season, who is going to be the next leader of our country? How do you feel about the things going on in the world? Or, how do you feel about the things going on in your own life? Maybe your marriage isn’t what it should be, maybe you’re having difficulties at work, maybe you’re dealing with a health issue or someone you love is dealing with a health issue, maybe your finances aren’t quite what you want them to be. How do you feel about things going on in your life? Or, how do you feel about things going on in your church? This past week we had a 3.5 hour long voters meeting as we considered the decisions for the future of our church, some described the mood of our congregation as excited, others as tense. How do you feel about things going on in our church?

It seems like we have questions, questions, and more questions. Well, if we think that we have questions, let’s take a look at Daniel’s time for a bit. We’ll find out that our time in the history of the world isn’t unique. But more importantly, we’re going to see that God has a simple, yet wonderful answer to all those questions which are on our minds.

The prophet Daniel lived at a time when the nation of Judah had been overrun by the nation of Babylon.  God used the Babylonians to cause the people of Judah a lot of suffering. Why? Because for the most part, the people of Judah were in rebellion against God – not listening to Him, worshipping false gods, etc. Daniel was exiled to Babylon thousands of miles away probably when he was a teenager. He spent most of his life in Babylon. Now he’s probably about 60 or 65 years old. And our text is really the conclusion to a vision that Daniel had. It was a wild vision. Here’s how it started out: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle.” Ok, a lion with wings. Daniel would have recognized this. Archaeologists have discovered winged lions placed in places to symbolically guard the palace gates. Daniel would have recognized that this represented Babylonian empire.

But what happened next? “I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.” That’s crazy! Next, Daniel sees a bear come out of the churning sea, and it has in its mouth three ribs, and it was told, “Get up and eat your fill of flesh!” Woe! That’s not good! Next came a leopard with four wings, but in addition to it having four wings it also had four heads, and was given authority to rule, so Babylon is clearly out of the picture now. And then came this terrifying beast which Daniel couldn’t even name – it was just terrifying and frightening. It had iron teeth and it trampled on or devoured its victims. Ten horns came out of its head and then one came up and uprooted three horns and spoke great boasts. Wow!

After the dream Daniel asked about its meaning.  It was explained to him that the various beasts he had seen were different empires. So, put yourself in Daniels shoes. The first empire was the Babylonian empire. What was that one like? That wasn’t a very nice empire for Daniel. The Babylonians had conquered the Israelites, held them under domination, exacted excruciating tribute from them. They deported thousands of the Israelites, including Daniel, then when the Jews tried to rebel, the Babylonians came destroyed Jerusalem and perhaps worst of all for the Jews was that they leveled the temple. That wasn’t a very nice empire, they weren’t that nice to believers in the true God.

And now this empire is going to “have its wings torn off” and replaced by another empire? One that is told to “eat your fill of flesh”?? Wow! What’s that going to be like for believers? And then a kingdom with four wings and four heads like a leopard to have extra swiftness and extra eating power?? Then one that couldn’t even be compared to an animal, a beast with iron teeth that’s just frightening and terrifying that devours victims and tramples under foot whatever is left?? How do you think Daniel felt about things in the world? Do you think Daniel could have been more worried about the state of the world and the state of the church and the state of his life than you and I?

It was right after seeing that final beast with the boastful horn that we then read that God showed Daniel this: “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  Wow!  It’s God the Father taking the seat of judgment, with the believers and the angels attending Him!  The beast with the boastful horn is tossed into the lake of fire, and that’s when our text takes place: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Who is this “son of man”? That’s Jesus! And this appearance of Jesus is very different than Jesus’ first appearance on this earth. Jesus’ first appearance on this earth was one of humility, wrapped in cloths, placed in a manger, whipped, beaten, nailed to a cross. THIS appearance, however, is amazingly powerful and glorious! He has authority and power and dominion! His kingdom can never and will never be destroyed! He is and will reign forever and ever!

And…all of a sudden, we’re just not so concerned about the world around us, are we? You know, if Jesus is in charge, it’s going to be okay! Look at His power! Look at His glory! We have an added blessing that Daniel didn’t have. We can look back at history. The Babylonian empire – so cruel to believers- it fell. The Persian empire rose fast, a bear of an empire, it fell. The Greeks with their leopard like phalanx, split into four parts and then fell to the Romans. And through it all, what happened to God’s Church? God’s Church continued! In the midst of all that crazy stuff, the Savior of the world came. It was during the Roman empire – the horrifying, terrifying beast that crushed and devoured – that God’s ultimate saving work was done- Jesus came, Jesus died for our sins, Jesus rose from the dead.

And yes, that one horn still speaks and still boasts- that’s the Anti-Christ opposed to Jesus which sprung up from the Roman empire. And that one horn will continue to bring problems to God’s people, but it can’t win. Because God’s Church continues! Yes, there are times in history when God’s Church struggles and when the Word is attacked and neglected. But no matter what the opposition to God’s Church, to God’s people might be, the opposition can never win!

Why? Because Christ is THE King and He does and will continue to reign forever and ever! So, we’re reminded on this Christ the King Sunday, no matter what’s going on in the world, in our congregation, in our own lives, we rejoice. Why? First, we rejoice that our King is a King of grace. Willingly He stood before Pontius Pilate, willingly he went to the cross to die, willingly He gave up His life, willingly He rose from the dead. He did that because He loves you that dearly, He wanted to pay for your sins, because He wants you in heaven with Him forever!

Second, we rejoice because our God and King alone knows all the details of the future. You don’t, I don’t, Satan doesn’t, the rulers of this world don’t. But God does. He knows the future so even when things might seem to be spinning out of control, He’s in complete control of history guiding it for the good of His people and to one glorious end.

And thirdly, we also rejoice because our Savior is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Ultimately, HE is in charge, ultimately HE is ruling all things for the good of advancing HIS kingdom. We live in a world full of dark and wicked powers, aggressive nations, wars and rumors of wars will continue to the end. We will also continue to experience attacks on our faith from anti-Christian forces. The devil will continue to play on our sinful natures, continue to try to instigate disunity and disharmony among God’s people, leading people away from God’s Word. But we look forward to that final day when our final deliverance will come. When Christ returns Satan and all his forces, all the evil people and forces of this world will be judged and finally done away with once and for all. All the dead will be raised, unbelievers will be sent to hell, but all God’s saints, his believers, will inherit eternal life, no more pain, no more sickness, no more problems, no more fighting, no more fear, no more tragedy, no more hardship. To that end our King Jesus is guiding all things.

With Him as King, there’s no room for our bickering, fighting, complaining, but just bowing to our eternal King of kings and trusting Him because no matter what is happening around us, our King, Jesus will continue to advance HIS cause, and HIS cause is YOUR cause, for YOUR eternal benefit! Come quickly Lord Jesus! Amen.

What’s your anchor?

Saints Triumphant Sunday
Mark 13:24-27

To Him who is and who was and who is to come, our Lord Jesus Christ, dear friends in Christ, The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Ever heard that phrase before? Do you know where it comes from? It comes from an old fairy tale that goes something like this: there was a little chicken who had an acorn fall on her head and she assumed the sky was falling, so she ran to tell a hen, then both of them panicked and told the duck, then all three of them panicked and told the fox who asked if they knew where they were going. They didn’t so the fox led them right to his home and the three never made it out. Moral of the story? Don’t panic, overreact, believe everything you’re told. “The sky is falling.”
But if we take to heart the words of our text, the reality is, the sky will be falling. How do you feel about that? Is it something to panic about? Is it something to worry about? Should we be filled with fear and spread mass hysteria like Chicken Little?
There are several ways that people can react to Judgment Day. You could choose not to believe it, ignore it, and pretend like it will never happen. Live your life with reckless abandon, eat, drink, and be merry. But then you’ll be rudely awakened to the reality when the sky does fall and everything you know of and everything in which your life consists is torn away from you. Or you could believe that Judgment Day is coming and live in fear for that day – scared of losing everything in your life, scared of what God might say to you, scared of what that day will be like. Or, there’s another way to live in view of the Last Day and that’s the way God encourages us to live in this text.
If a ship is going to survive a storm, it needs an anchor. Well, in a way, every life needs an anchor as well. Every life needs something to put hope in. To trust in to withstand life’s storms. There are many options available, but there’s only one anchor that will hold a person fast on the final storm, the last storm, on the Last Day. For many of the Jews their anchor was the physical, visible temple building in Jerusalem. The purpose of the temple in the OT was to be a symbol of how God lives among His people. The purpose of the temple was fulfilled when God took on human flesh, when Jesus walked and lived among His people. But many who rejected Jesus turned the temple into a sort of idol. The thought was, “As long as we have the temple, we’re good. We have nothing to fear, because we have the temple.” So on Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple and the disciples commented, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” And they were! But then Jesus delivers a shocker, “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” In other words, one day this temple – in which so many people foolishly place their trust – will be destroyed. (About 40 years later in 70 AD, what Jesus predicted came true, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, totally destroying the temple.) And then Jesus went on to describe not just when the temple would be destroyed, but what the temple’s destruction would be a foreshadow of- the world’s Last Day, Judgment Day. And the signs of the Last Day’s coming are many: wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes and famines, persecution for believers, families torn apart by hate and violence, false teachers will come to deceive many, but the gospel will be preached to all nations and those who stand firm to the end will be saved.
And then Jesus describes the Last Day: “But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” So, the sky will fall. Can you imagine this? The sun not shining? It’s like God is going to flip the light switch and the sun is going to turn off. And of course then the moon is going to quit reflecting light from the sun. The billions of stars that fill our universe will fall. The heavenly bodies, maybe referring to planets or just a sum of all the things in the sky will be shaken. In other words, the world and everything we’ve come to know of it will change.
But one thing that won’t change is Jesus. Jesus, the Son of Man will come. “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Just like Jesus ascended into heaven with clouds, He will come again with the clouds, He will come with great power and glory, the light of that day will only come from Him. And everyone will see him. And then He’s going to do something, “And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” The Lord Jesus with His hosts upon hosts and armies upon armies of angels will appear and every single believer in Jesus will be found, all the elect, all those whom God chose as His even before He created the world, will be found. Whether your body was buried at sea, your ashes spread into the wind, or your body lying in a coffin, Jesus will find your body and take you home body and soul forever. What an awesome day to look forward to when the sky is falling.
What’s your anchor in life? For many Jews it was the temple, but they lost that in 70 AD. What is it for many people today? Maybe their anchor is in wealth or possessions- as long as I have them, I’m going to be ok in life. Maybe someone’s anchor is in health and fitness- as long as I’m healthy, I’m ok. Or maybe someone’s anchor is in their job – as long as I have my job, I’m ok. Or maybe someone’s anchor is their popularity or success- as long as I have that, I’m ok. Or maybe the anchor is in family and friends – as long as I still have my loved ones, I’ll be ok. Or maybe for some their anchor is found in America, as long as America is around, I’ll be ok.
But what does Jesus tell us? It’s all falling apart! The sky is falling. There will come a time when something as dependable as the sun is just going to quit shining any more, when the moon isn’t going to be seen anymore, when the stars that seem so fixed in their locations are going to fall from the sky. And if those things are going to go away, anything in life can go away. Wealth, possessions, health, job, America, and, yes, as many of us know all too well – family, friends, loved ones.
At the root of all fear is loss. What causes fear? I’m afraid that I’m going to LOSE something or someone. I couldn’t possibly go on living if I didn’t have _________. I don’t know what I would do if I lost ___________. We attach ourselves so much to different things or people. At the root of fear is loss. I could be afraid of losing my job, afraid of losing my savings, afraid of losing my health, afraid of losing a loved one, afraid of losing a spouse, afraid of losing the world as I know it. But there is only one sure anchor in life and that’s Jesus. Being ready for the end means being ready to lose everything except Jesus.
You see, Jesus lost everything so that we could have everything. God doesn’t fake anything. We, humans, can fake all kinds of things – God doesn’t. When Jesus was the on the cross God didn’t just fake punish Him, He really punished Him. In fact, we could say that Jesus literally lost everything, he lost all the blessings of God on the cross. God forsook Him. God turned His back on Him in anger. Why? Because on the cross Jesus became the worst sinner of all. On the cross Jesus took upon Himself every wretched, filthy, rotten, disgusting thought, word, and action that you’ve ever had or did. He lost all God’s blessings. He suffered hell itself – the absence of the blessings of God. He lost it all.
And we need to answer why. Why did Jesus lose it all? He lost it all, so that you could have it all. Since God doled out His punishment against your sin on Jesus, there’s nothing left to punish you for! You didn’t ask for it or request it, but in Christ God lost every reason to punish you.
And I’m not talking about temporary things. We too easily set our sights way too low. Our lives don’t consist in things, our lives don’t consist in money or wealth, our lives don’t even consist in our relationships with family or friends! In fact, our lives don’t consist here at all! Our true life is in heaven, that’s where our true citizenship is!
The sky might fall, the stars will disintegrate, the sun will lose its power to shine, the moon go dark, but what’s it to you? You have the one sure anchor in all of eternity – Christ Jesus, your Savior. And one day He will return with all power and glory and bring with him all your loved ones who found in Him the one true, lasting hope in all of life!
This week, as you think about loved ones who’ve died in the Lord, as you think about the things of your life and the affairs of the world, be comforted, Jesus is coming and He WILL bring you and all believers to your real home in heaven!