Let us pray: Dear Savior, we live in a world where true leaders are in short supply. Everywhere we turn, our earthly leaders act like kings who take advantage of their subjects and not like paragons of virtue who serve their people in humility. That’s why we come to thank You today and to celebrate Christ the King Sunday. For You, the ultimate King put Your life on the line and died to save us! May that example inspire us to serve You in humility and love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE KING!
TEXT: Matthew 27: 27-31
Dearly Beloved By Christ, Our King!
What do you look for in a leader? Obviously, you want them to be smart, hard-working, and to have a sense of compassion. The truly great ones are also humble. They are not arrogant. They don’t act as if they are above their subjects. They aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
Alexander the Great conquered the known world of his time with an army of 20-30 thousand Greek soldiers. In some of his epic battles he also had foreign troops numbering many thousand in his ranks. Against him were arrayed the armies of the Persian empire numbering close to a million men. And yet Alexander triumphed. Why? Because he was smart? Yes. Because his troops were more highly trained? Yes. But also because he was a leader. Unlike the Persian kings, he didn’t hide behind the battle lines. He led his troops. He was front and center in the battles. He wasn’t afraid to suffer the same fate as his soldiers. And those soldiers fought inspired by this.
Winston Churchill was a great leader. Why? Because he, too, had put his life on the line early in his career. He, too, had been shot at, ridiculed, shunted off to political oblivion before WWII. When he spoke to his people, they knew he spoke from the heart. They knew he really meant it. They knew he was willingly to die in order to serve them.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate Leader of people. Why? Why are people attracted to Him? Well, Jesus says it well: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The humbleness of Christ is stunning. He was born in a cattle shed, not a palace. He grew up in a backwater town, not the capital city. He had a simple education, not an Ivy League school of His time. For the first 30 years of His life He did not aspire to leadership. He worked as a local carpenter, making useful things, serving humble people, in the family shop. And when He began His public ministry, He didn’t gather the scions of politics and industry around Him, no, instead He picked fishermen from the boondocks of Galilee.
Throughout His 3 year ministry, Jesus did not try to rule the nation or cozy up to the movers and shakers of the day. Instead, He preached to the masses. He healed sick people who were forgotten by society. He cast demons out of those who were shunned and despised. He even talked to prostitutes and other open sinners! How the chattering class must have yipped and yapped about Him! When He came to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, no war horse for Him to ride. No, a little donkey colt sufficed. And now, in our lesson, the “leaders” of the day with Roman acquiescence, whipped him and were preparing to crucify Him. Dressed in that purple robe with His open wounds oozing blood, Jesus didn’t look like much of a Leader, or a King. Who would ever dream of following this Man and putting their life on the line for Him?
Note well that at that point in time, none did. No one fought for Him. No one led a mob against the Roman soldiers or Pontius Pilate. Instead, they remained passive, in the shadows. Some just wept. If ever there was an improbable King, it was Christ in the palace of Pilate.
And yet, this same Man has changed the world and become the greatest Leader the world has ever known or will ever know. In the subsequent years since, His army numbers millions upon millions. Perhaps even billions upon billions. Countless souls, followers of Christ, have willingly died rather than renounce Him and His Kingship over them. Why? Because this King died for them. This King served them with His very life. This King gave up His body to save their souls eternally. This King made peace with God Almighty for them. This King rose from His grave and their graves to cement their eternal future in glory. This King wasn’t afraid to die for what was true, right, honest, loving, and noble. To This King, the fate of His subjects was far more important than His own life.
Christ the King doesn’t coerce His followers with fear. He doesn’t gain adherents with promises of earthly good times. He doesn’t tax them into oblivion. No, this King gives and gives and gives. He freely gives us His grace, or undeserved love. He freely forgives us. He freely gives us the gift of saving faith via the Spirit’s power. He freely hands out comfort and peace every week at church in the Word of the Gospel and in His living sacraments. He always hears our prayers and answers them. He’s never too busy for anyone. That’s all because His business is: us. His business is about serving us. What a King!
Great leaders don’t pander. They don’t treat their people as little children who are ignorant, either. They aren’t afraid to tell us the truth. They aren’t afraid to tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. That’s because they “know that the truth will set us free.” Well, Jesus fits that bill to a “T.” He wasn’t afraid to talk about sin and about the inner evil that afflicts us. He wasn’t afraid to tell the rich young man that he was an arrogant fool who was living in fantasy land. He wasn’t afraid to tell the Pharisees and Sadducees that personal attempts at currying God’s favor, or going through the external motions of religiosity were doomed to failure. He was never afraid to call anyone and everyone to repentance. It cost Him His life. But no matter. He knew that after His death and through His resurrection, “All things are put in subjection” under Him. Yes, He knew that even death, the greatest fear of humans, would be put under His Almighty power.
On this final Sunday in the Church year, it is good to come together and honor Christ the King! It is good to be reminded of all these aspects of Godly leadership in our lives. It is good to thank and praise Christ for leading us towards heaven. Yes, it good to know that:
Christ The King Still Leads His People in Humility and Love! Amen