Christ the King Sunday
1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He’s given us new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! Amen. In the name of Jesus, our King eternal, dear friends in Christ:
“I just can’t wait to be king…no one saying do this…no one saying be there…no one saying stop that…no one saying see here…free to run around all day…free to do it all my way…I just can’t wait to be king.” Perhaps the 1994 animated Disney musical Lion King was on to a certain longing inside the heart of every single person: wanting to be the king. There’s a part of each one of us that wants to be, that desires, that longs for being in a certain amount of control, to have the ability to cause things to work out the way that we want them to work out. We want to have more money because having money in this world is what is perceived to give security and a certain amount of control. We want more knowledge because being smarter and wiser is perceived to give a certain amount of control. We like to advance and move up in our jobs because the higher we get the more stability and perhaps control we can have. Perhaps there’s a part of each of us that “just can’t wait to be king” and to “do it all my way.”
But then there are all these painful reminders in life that prove to us again and again that we actually have very little control over the things of life. A sickness or illness comes out of nowhere and leaves us lying on our backs. A sudden accident or other loss causes us a huge financial burden. Or simply our plans crumble right before our eyes. And we’re reminded that we’re not the king. In fact, the majority of our lives are not under our control. We didn’t get to pick the century we were born in, we didn’t pick the country we were born in, we didn’t pick the talents and abilities we have, we didn’t get to pick our mental capacity or the body that we live in. Much of our lives are out of our control. But perhaps the clearest reminder of the fact that we’re not in control is death.
See what are we told here? “Death came through a man” and “In Adam all die.” Every death is a painful reminder of sin. It’s a painful reminder to every single person that they aren’t in control. No scientist or doctor will ever find a remedy to indefinitely prolong human life. Every descendant of Adam and Eve faces death. No matter how much we want to be, no matter how hard we try, we’re not going to be king.
But that’s ok. In fact, that’s very good news. Why so? Because none of us are capable of being king. Rather, time and again even in the small areas that are under our control we manage to make a mess of things. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a King who had everything under His control? And, wouldn’t it be nice to have a King who not only knows all things but has all the power that could possibly exist to do anything? And wouldn’t it be nice to have such a King who loves you so much and is so concerned about you that He will work all things out in order to bring you out of this painful world into glory with Him in heaven? Wouldn’t that be nice?
Well, there’s good news. That’s exactly the kind of King you have in Jesus. Today is the last Sunday of the church year and we celebrate the fact that Christ is King. But what kind of a king is Jesus? He is the King who humbled himself to become a baby, lying in a manger. He is the king who humbled himself to be tired and hungry and thirsty, to feel pain and hurt, and to cry. He is the King who humbled himself so much that he was tortured and mocked and stripped and beaten and crucified. Why so? Because WE were the ones who had rebelled against God, WE were the ones who brought sin and death into this world, WE were the ones who deserved to suffer, deserved to be humiliated, deserved to be sent to hell forever. But what did our king do? He set aside His crown of glory and took on a crown of thorns. He set aside the full use of his power and authority as God for a time to redeem us, to save us, to rescue us for eternal life. So our focus is often on Jesus, the suffering servant who came to humble himself to save us, and it’s proper for us to do that.
But there’s also a time for us to be reminded that Jesus is the King of glory! Jesus, who came wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger is the all-powerful, almighty God who rules all things!
And how does Jesus make that clear? He rose from the dead. He got out of the grave. At first we might thing, “Yep, heard that thousands of time, Jesus rose from the dead, big deal.” It is a big deal. Think about it. What kind of power would it take to be able to raise yourself from the dead? Sometimes it’s a struggle for us to just get ourselves out of bed in the morning! But to raise yourself from the dead? The power to do that is unlike anything else we have ever seen or will see on earth.
And Jesus has that power! He could take His dead body and He could raise Himself from the dead! He could take His own body, lying in a tomb, and raise it up! He took His lifeless body and brought it back to life.
And that proves that he also has power over something else: your death and mine. He has the power to raise our bodies back to life. Jesus was the first fruit, he was the first to be raised back to life and he will never die again. On the Last Day, Jesus will use His power to raise the bodies of all believers, your body and my body, will be raised to life to live forever and ever. And when that takes place, every enemy will stand defeated. The devil will no longer be able to tempt, there will no longer be a sinful world to entice us away from God. Our own sinful flesh will be purged from our bodies forever. And death itself will lie defeated. Jesus who has been reigning all things and has been destroying all dominion, authority, and power one-by-one, will hand over his completed work to God the Father and Jesus won’t stop reigning and being king, but the character of His reign will be changed from the embattled kingdom to the unopposed, glorious kingdom of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And we need to be reminded of those truths. Why so? Because right now it often doesn’t seem that Jesus is reigning. The world often seems to be careening far off the course and away from God. The devil is constantly working hard to lead people astray. Even our own sinful flesh torments us, leads us to question Jesus’ ruling. “If Jesus were really in charge, would this be happening to you? If Jesus were really ruling, why are you struggling so much? If Jesus were really guiding all things for the good, wouldn’t your life look much different?” And so, between now and the Last Day we struggle, we live by faith not by sight, we’re reminded again and again that we’re not in control and perhaps we’re even tempted to doubt that God is in control.
But Jesus is ruling and will continue to rule all things. He rules in the midst of weakness and hardship and apparent defeat, opposed by his enemies. But Jesus isn’t using His power to crush and annihilate, but He’s using His power in these last days to win and to save. He hides his glory and his power so sinful people, like you and me, can come to know Him as the Lord of love and forgiveness.
But one day our faith will be sight. One day Jesus will make it clear to us that not only HAS he been ruling all things for the good of His people but that He will continue to be in charge and in control of all things for the good of His people forever.
And so we end our church year with rejoicing! We have a King! We have a King who rules all things for our good! We have a King who has defeated death, our #1 enemy, and who someday will destroy death forever! We have a King who loves us dearly, enough to die for us! We have a King who has the ultimate Kingdom, and He will take us there to live with Him forever!
And knowing that? We can live our lives in confidence and joy! For we have THE KING! Amen.