Who is this King of Glory? – A sermon for Christ the King

It’s the feast of Christ the king today so here’s my sermon for a small rural church based on Luke 23.33-43


 

A reading from Psalm 24

Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?

 

Today is the Church’s celebration of Christ the King which means we have a whole Sunday specifically dedicated to celebrating the kingship of Christ.

As a festival it’s less than a hundred years old, being instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a response to the First World War and the rise of authoritarian rule. Despite it’s relative youth as a festival though, its importance and relevance are timeless.

The feast falls on the last Sunday of the Church’s year and so is representative of the final goal for the Church and her religion. It is what we are all building up to; Christ enthroned as king is our ultimate goal.

But who is this king that we wish to see enthroned in glory?

What marks Him out as different to all other kings and why should we be waiting to see him enthroned instead of anyone else?

Looking at today’s Gospel and pulling out some of the themes of Jesus and His kingship may help give us some idea.

Jesus is the king who is compassionate

Unlike other rulers in this world Jesus allows others to act as they please. This passage sees people acting on, or responding to Jesus, as he submissively receives.

They Crucified Jesus” “they cast lots to divide His clothing”.

The people watched, the leaders scoffed and the soldiers mocked.

All these actions happen to a Jesus who is passive.

Unlike other people in authority, He does not lash out, or try and defend Himself or chastise or rebuke. There is no spin or rebuttal here. On this public stage Jesus sets out His manifesto to rule. It is the inverse of our political rallies. Rather than triumph and fanfare and music and speeches Jesus presents Himself and His rule quietly, almost silently. Lifted up on The Skull for all to see with His title, ironically written by those who mocked Him, on a sign above His head.

This King’s grand declaration, manifesto or campaign slogan is simply one sentence; “Father Forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.

The perfect sound bite; short, to the point, no lies, or half truths. A message so plain it is misleading, and probably went unheard by most there. Yet it is the only campaign slogan that truly matters, for it is the only one that has been fulfilled. At that moment, Jesus makes good on his promise of leadership. Through His death God forgives those that crucified His Son as well as all others who believe in Him.

And that is what separates this King from any other. His rule and promises are for everyone, even those who went so far as to crucify Him. His is a compassionate kingship that cares for all, not just those who wish Him to be king, or those who happen to live in the same country as He.

It is for all. Here is the leader that gives all to all.

Lift up your heads o you gates, and the king of compassion shall come in.

Who is this King of compassion?

He is the king who is mocked

As he died on the Cross he was mocked and derided by those around Him. The chief priests had finally got their man and were now able to see him made a fool of, like he had so many times to them in the temple. The soldiers continued to mock him as they did all prisoners, regardless of their rank or status, to them he was just another criminal no better than any of the others they had crucified lately. Not only that but he was mocked by one of those who were crucified alongside him despite being in the same predicament as Jesus, completely ignorant of who He was. These people had no faith in the kingship of Christ.

It is not much different today.

Many people will scoff at the idea of the “kingdom of God”. Turn their noses up at its lack of economic weight or its defensive capabilities or its total lack of influence in the political world stage. With so much going wrong in the world today how could Jesus possibly be king? But this is to look at the kingdom in the same way as the mocking criminal did. That is to look and judge the kingdom based on what we can get out of it. It is a narrow, self centred and exclusive understanding of kingship.

By accepting this mockery Jesus is showing the kind of King he is. He is a king that can take all of our hatred and self centred criticisms and take the sting out of them. The words of mockery did not damage Jesus’ kingship, like so many words in tabloid newspapers do to our political leaders. These words of mockery enhanced Jesus’ kingship. They reflected it and bath it in a more glorious light.

Jesus’ is the kingship that does not retaliate when provoked and soaks up, rather than stokes up people’s hatred. His is the kingship that is not affected by those who do not recognise it.

Be lifted up you everlasting doors, and the mocked king of compassion shall come in.

Who is this mocked king of compassion?

He is the king who is crucified

This is the point where Jesus’ kingship contrasts that of earthly kings more than any. When it does happen, execution of a monarch always ends their rule, in Jesus’ case however, it is where it begins. The crucifixion is the climax of His earthly ministry. All of his actions and teachings and appearances have been leading up to this point. Contrast this with earthly leaders, who if they do not step down gracefully, almost always end up shamed and disgraced at the end of their rule. Rather than ending with shame and disgrace, Jesus’ rule begins with it.

The cross was the lowest punishment available at the time, reserved for slaves, outsiders and traitors. It was unthinkable for a monarch to be executed in this way. And yet it is through this form of punishment that Jesus is magnified. The Cross is His throne and whilst earthly rulers use power, influence and money to seize their thrones, Jesus is nailed to His. In the ultimate act of Divine Love God takes the lowest and most despicable act humanity can create and inverts it, totally, bringing the broken, twisted and defiled body of Jesus on the Cross and elevating it to the highest seat in Heaven. Thus inverting kingly power as we know it.

Lift up your heads o you gates, and the mocked king of compassion who was crucified shall come in.

Who is this mocked king of compassion who was crucified?

He is the king who reigns today and whose kingdom shall have no end.

In this account of the crucifixion we have only two sayings from Jesus, the first I’ve already mentioned: “forgive”. The second closes our passage; “Today you will be with me in paradise”. This is Jesus’ message to all who will see Him as king. Today you will be with me. Not at the end. Not after a period of trial. Not after we have died. Today. Christ’s kingship is one that began as soon as he was lifted up. From that moment he was king. All peoples were drawn to him and all authority in Heaven and on Earth was handed to him. That day He was made king.

Not only that, but His kingship is eternal, just as He is eternal. After His ascension He sat down at the right hand of His Father in Heaven and from there continues to rule the universe. If you want to get all mystical and complicated with time lines and space and dimensions you can say his Kingship exists outside of time as well, and therefore stretches back to before the world was made.

Jesus has been king for all eternity and will continue to reign for ever and ever.

This point takes us back to the day we are celebrating. Our Today is Christ the King. It is placed here as the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar as a reminder that this is the end, the goal, the eternity to which we are all heading. Today we celebrate that we will be with Him in paradise.

For all who will recognise Him His promise stays true – “today, you will be with me in paradise” and for all time, He will remain king.


 

A reading from Psalm 24:

Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?

He is the king who is compassionate, who was mocked and crucified. The king who reigns today and the king who will reign for all eternity.

Not the rulers of this world.

Not the politicians.

Not the Dictators.

Not Theresa May, or Trump, or Putin or Kim Jung-un or Microsoft or death or disease or famine.

Not the wealthiest, the most powerful, the most dangerous, the one with the biggest army.

Not any human scheme, idea or philosophy.

Jesus of Nazareth.

He is the king of Glory.

 

 

 

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About Natalie Waste

Bisexual, Lifestyle-Submissive CD. Theology student blogging about Kink, Christianity and Theology. kinktheology.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Bible Study, God, Jesus, Names, Scripture, Sermon, Titles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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