Let us pray: Dear Savior, what peace we have knowing that You, the Lord of the universe, are watching over our lives and protecting us! What comfort we possess knowing that You, the King of eternal glory, have chosen to share that glory with us via the gift of forgiveness and the gift of heaven. May we always express our comfort and joy by honoring You with our hearts, hands, and voices. Amen
GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE KING OF ALL!
TEXT: Jeremiah 23: 5&6
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
In America we don’t like kings. We don’t have time for kings. We dismiss the whole idea of a king with a sneer, or a Bronx cheer. And because of all that, we often fail to grasp the depth and comfort that Christ the King Sunday brings. In America it’s all about freedom, isn’t it? It’s all about personal responsibility. It’s all about one person, one vote—everyone being equal. To us who live in the cradle of colonial rebellion, kings are arrogant, out-of-touch snobs who have little in common with us. Many years ago a friend from Boston told me that celebrities like Boston because they are not gawked at. The reason for that is that Bostonians think of themselves as every bit as important as any celebrity! I believe our colonial roots have hatched that mindset and like you, I’m proud of it!
In ancient times, during the eras in which the Bible was written, kings were the accepted form of government. Some were good. Most were bad. Nonetheless, the people understood the whole concept of a king quite well. For them the king was all-powerful. Whatever he said was accepted, or you paid a heavy price. The king controlled every aspect of your life—directly or indirectly. The economy, the health of the people, their safety, their identity were all wrapped up in the form of the king. He was the president, the congress, the supreme court—all rolled into one. He was their present and he was their future. And if something happened to him everyone’s identity was threatened and turned inside out.
As I said before, this whole idea of an absolute ruler, a king, is somewhat antithetical to us. And so, Christ the King Sunday is a bit jarring to our modern sensibilities. And yet, I’m here to urge you to willingly surrender your life to His care! Why? Because:
THIS KING BRINGS FREEDOM!
Freedom is a wonderful word. Freedom means: escape from the forces of those wishing to enslave us. It means personal responsibility. Freedom encompasses being liberated from the forces of evil and from the arrogance of humans. My friends, we possess that kind of freedom in Christ, our King!
Let’s examine some facts. What does the Christian Church stand for? What benefits do we receive under Christ’s kingship? Well, we teach honesty and integrity. The commandments clearly define the best of life, don’t they? The 1st commandment says that honoring God above all else makes us humble instead of arrogant. The 2nd commandment promotes using God’s gift of language positively instead of negatively. The 3rd commandment reminds us that honoring Him through regular worship uplifts our souls and makes us into happier, more contented people because now we have some perspective on life. The 4th commandment upholds and promotes family unity and togetherness and therefore calls on all of us to honor and respect each other. The 5th commandment says all human life—your life—is sacred both to humans and to God Who created life. The 6th commandment promotes the healthy expression of human sexuality—and if followed would thwart the tremendous pain of divorce not to mention AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and huge amounts of emotional disconnect. The 7th commandment promotes the right of private property and the proper use of it—not to tear down others but to built up everyone. The 8th commandment says that your reputation is vital and that words which hurt another end up hurting you, too. And the 9th and 10th commandments show us that there is much more to life than embracing greed, which fosters only discontent at what you don’t have and an attitude of ingratitude. All these commandments together teach us that God knows what is best for our lives. That He knows what it takes to make us happy and well-adjusted people. Yes, they teach that honesty, integrity and hard work bring satisfaction and that such satisfaction benefits everyone it touches. What other system of thought or body of laws promotes these truths fully? What human government can provide such insights into life? Yes, if we listen to our King and follow His will happiness and contentment will reign in our lives! Yes, our conscience will be clean.
Of course, we all know that we don’t always listen or follow or obey God’s voice. Our sinful side is rebellious. It is arrogant. We often feel that we have a better idea on how we should live and we try to act it out. Do you wonder why kids cheat in school and later on cheat on their taxes? It’s because they feel they are a law unto themselves and accountable to no one but themselves. Do you wonder why sexual deviance is rampant and divorce and broken homes are so commonplace? It’s because people fail to see that their bodies are temples of God and they should treat them accordingly. Do you ever wonder why such harsh, foul language seems to be omnipresent thereby disrespecting everyone within earshot? It’s because people have no respect for their neighbor because they have no respect for God Who sees and hears all.
Try as we might, none of us is a perfect subject of the heavenly King. If our actions don’t condemn us, our thoughts or our words do. So, what’s the answer? How are we to be set free from the ravages of human sin if we cannot do it ourselves? Ah, now we have come to the point of today! Christ, our King, has set us free! And Jeremiah announces this freedom that God proclaimed: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah (God’s people) and Israel (His Church) will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: the Lord our Righteousness.”
Christ the King came to be perfect for you. He came to keep the commandments in your place. He came to forgive you your faults and to wipe away your guilt. He came to free you from the bondage of sin and even from the fear of death. For on the cross He died for you and then arose to give you His new life. He came to give you real peace, eternal peace, with God Almighty. He came to bestow His righteousness upon you through His gift of saving faith.
Our King never makes a mistake. He never plays favorites. He desires “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of His truth.” And when we put our egos aside and embrace Him through faith we can bask in the liberating words of St. Paul: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. And the God of peace will be with you.” Yes, This King Brings Freedom! And that’s why you’ve come today to worship Him.—To be set free! Amen.