November 25, 2001: From Taunt Comes Triumph

Let us pray: Dear Savior, how comforting it is to know that You are in charge of all creation and that You are making sure it benefits us, Your holy Church! Knowing that You are in charge calms our many fears, it dissipates our worries over the future, and it enables us to life our lives in boldness by embracing the future. Yes, our future is not uncertain, but sure, all because You have mapped it out for us. With those thoughts in mind we honor You today and we also thank You for honoring us every day! Amen
TEXT: Colossians 1: 13-20

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

If you want a primer in human behavior all you have to do is go to a schoolyard and watch the children in action. Kids can be very mean. They pick on each other. They throw insults around concerning another’s weight and dress. And woe to the poor child that speaks with an accent! Taunts and ridicule are heaped upon them.

We adults usually don’t overtly engage in such behavior since it is frowned upon in society and elicits lawsuits in the workplace. And yet, we’re just as guilty as the average schoolyard bully. The only difference being we carefully veil out taunts to provide ourselves with plausible deniability if and when someone challenges us.
One of the great blessings of Christianity is that it enables us to rise above such petty retribution. For we know that out of sin comes grace and out of revenge comes forgiveness and out of taunts come triumphs. And so on this Christ the King Sunday let’s be uplifted by our text which clearly teaches:


Who is Jesus Christ? Well, that’s simple. He is the Son of God Almighty. Or, as our lesson says: “He is the image of the invisible God.” So, if you want to know exactly what God is like-you need to examine Jesus and His life. As we do just that, what do we see? We see a host of taunts hurled His way. Think back to when Christ was born. The evil King Herod asked the wise men to go and find the baby Jesus and then to come back and tell him all about it so that “I too may go and worship him.” But, of course, Herod’s idea of worship was to slaughter scores of innocent baby boys around Bethlehem in order to try to deny Christ His kingship. Think back to Satan in the wilderness tempting Christ. “If you are the Son of God…do my bidding” was his taunt. As if Christ was subject to the devil’s will. Look at today’s gospel where Christ is hanging on the cross and the hypocritical church leaders and soldiers openly taunted His Godly power with words like: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God…If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” Even the disciples get into the act of taunting their Lord when after His resurrection they ignorantly ask: “Now Lord? Now the kingdom of glory?”

Yet in the midst of all this ignorance and even open hatred of His work, how does Jesus respond? He reminds all within earshot that He is the Shepherd who lays down His life to save His sheep. He reminds them that He is like that father of the prodigal son who welcomes home his wayward child. Christ never, ever, lashes out and hits back. He bears the abuse and scorn. He forgives and forgets. He lets go of any sense of revenge. Yes, Jesus shows us that He has the power to rise above taunts and in so doing shows His Godly triumph over human sin.

Today you and I face exactly the same taunts that Jesus did. O they are clothed in different language, but they are just as hurtful and deadly to our faith. Our sinful flesh often tells us-especially around this time of the year-to take credit for our blessings, after all “you worked hard for them, you deserve them!” Or, it says “You’ll never be good enough to please God, so stay on your knees and continue to beat yourself up emotionally for your faults!” Amid these taunts, however, comes triumph. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Yes, through faith in Jesus God gives us His triumphs as our very own. He makes us into beacons of light, into flashes of love and brilliance in this mocking world. And in the process He also gives us inner peace so that the taunts cannot pull us down into despair and self-defeat.


Our lesson speaks of Christ as being “the firstborn of all creation.” The taunt to this is that although every power in heaven and on earth was created through and for Him, nonetheless those powers mocked Him whenever they could. Pilate strutted Rome’s power in falsely condemning our King to death. The soldiers offer Him vinegar while on the cross. The crowd mocked and sneered. Even those thieves cried out: “Do something!”

And yet, God’s thoughts and ways are not ours, are they? By humiliating Himself Christ achieved salvation for us. He bore our stripes and carried our physical and emotional wounds in His own body. Yes, He achieved triumph not as our Judge but as our Substitute. He became subject to the powers of earthly life so that they could no longer imprison us.

Many created things beckon us to crown them as our king. Work sometimes imprisons us. Family squabbles can trap us. Bank accounts, possessions and insurance policies can give us either a false sense of security or a dull dread of the future. Who is the king of your life? What rules you? What controls how you think and act? Who wears the crown?

Today marks the end of the church year. Contrary to secular opinion this is the time not to create more busyness and get caught up in it, but a time to unclutter our lives in order to see and anticipate the eternal appointment and the crown that awaits us in glory. The taunt of the secular holidays is: “shop, shop, party, party, work, work, and play, play-but don’t ever think about death or eternity. No, live for today and think nothing of tomorrow!” But, the triumph of Thanksgiving and Christmas is that Christ arose to a new life on Easter and gives us a certain future through faith. It is that inner peace and lasting joy are more valuable than a host of presents under the tree. Yes, the triumph of the season is that Christ enables us to truly appreciate any expression of love that comes our way because we see it for what it really is: a gift from God. So leave the taunts behind-Jesus did! And bask in the triumph of His love for you! Yes, Christ is our King! Amen