Summary: This is "Christ the King" Sunday, yet we are also forced to ask with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord?"
Sermon: Christ The King
Text: Jer 23:5-8
Occasion: Trinity XXVI
Who: Mark Woolsey
Where: Arbor House
When: Sunday, Novenber 20, 2005
Audio link: http://providencerec.com/Sound%20Files/Srmn06-01-01WoolseyJer23;05-08TrinityXXVIChristTheKing.mp3
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What’s the last day of the year? Well, duh, it’s Dec 31. It is, I suppose, if your god is the two-faced god, Janus. She is eternally looking forward and backward, both contemplating what has passed and preparing for what is to come. However, the church has a different God. Instead of the two-faced god Janus, we bow the knee to the almighty God, Jesus. It is His life and teachings around which the church centers its year. Therefore, the last day of the year is this coming Saturday, November 26th. Next Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent when we prepare ourselves again to celebrate His birth. Today, the beginning of the last week of the church calendar, is known as "Christ the King" Sunday. It is special because in it we get a glimpse of what God means when He says He will establish His kingdom. Yet we are also forced to ask with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord?" (Ps 13:1ff).
II. Chrst, the King
Over the past year, according to the church calendar, we have first followed in the footsteps of Christ, then sat at His feet listenting to His teaching. Today we reach the climax in that He is proclaimed King. Listen to Jeremiah as he was read today:
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "That I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness; A King shalll reign and prosper, And execute judgement and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell in safety" (23:5-6).
I say to you today that He has come and rules this earth. I say to you that Jesus is this King. I call every one who can hear my voice to bow your head, break your heart, and bend your knee to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hear what St John has to say about this Man:
"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KING AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:11-16).
Who would not bow down to Him? Who would dare to oppose Him who rules not only by raw power, but right of creation, ownership, and redemption? It turns out there are many.
III How long, O Lord?
Hear the psalmist’s lament:
"The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ’There is no God’" (Ps 10:4).
We get a monthly publication from "Open Doors", which is a voice for persecuted Christians around the globe. They include in it a prayer item for each day of the month. For the days of November 28th and 29th here is their request:
Bengladesh: Two faithful Christian workers were hacked to death at dawn on July 27. Tapan Kumar Roy, 27, and Liplal Mardi, 21, had been actively involved in community works, showing educational films on arsenic poisoning, mother-and-child health care, and AIDS prevention. They often showed the JESUS film at the invitation of local villagers. A well-known Christian leader familiar with the two evangelists said an official at a local Islamic school had threatened the men verbally proor to the murders. Some villagers had also threatened to kill them if they continued to show the JESUS film. Please pray for their families in this time of sorrow and difficulty as they have lost their bread-winnders. Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief."
You see, just as we stand on the threshold of a new year, yet remain still in the old, Christ’s kingdom is announced and here already, yet not here in its fullness. As theologians like to say, it is "already, not yet". Christ rules every aspect of every part and particle of the universe, the course of every emperor, river, individual, and atom, yet we still see rebellion, disease, famine, death, torture, and worse run rampant. For now, God uses both the bad and the good to show His glory. We are told, that there will be a day when only righteousness will reign, and the righteous can rest. Until then we have the promise from God through Jeremiah that: