Summary: I prepared this sermon for "Christ The King" Sunday - the Sunday after Thanksgiving and just prior to Advent (Christmas Season). What King is this? The King who laid down His life for His subjects!
What King Is This? Luke 23:33-43
Introduction (Adapted from www.churchyear.net)
Today we celebrate to coming of Christ, our King. That is what the season of Advent – Christmas – is really all about. It is a time when we remember the time of His coming to earth in the form of a child.
During this season we will light a candle each Sunday of Advent as we celebrate the hope, peace, joy, and love that we have found in Christ. We will celebrate the coming of Christ in song and Scripture. We will look forward to the birth of our Saviour and King.
To my knowledge this will be the first time, perhaps ever, but certainly in many decades, that this Church will celebrate Christ the King Sunday – the first Sunday after Thanksgiving and also the last Sunday prior to the Season of Advent.
As such, it seems entirely appropriate to me to share just a bit about the history and meaning of this celebration; the celebration of Christ the King was originally instituted in 1925 Pope Pius XI in a declaration called the Quas Primas.
In the 21st century many Western Christians – Catholic and Protestant – celebrate Christ the King Sunday, including Anglicans, Lutherans, and many others. Because of its value, it has been adopted by many and we celebrate it here today.
At the time of its institution, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians doubted Christ’s authority and even His Christ’s existence.
1925 witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw many Christians taken in by these earthly leaders. The celebration of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ.
Pius hoped that the annual celebration of Christ the King would work toward the accomplishment of the following:
(1) That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state.
(2) That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ.
(3) That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.
The goals of this celebration are still very much needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but instead have worsened. Unfortunately, in some churches, “king” language is not popular, and as a result few take the time considers what the Kingship of Christ means.
However, in a chaotic and unjust world that seems to scorn any kind of authority, many Christians proudly celebrate Christ the King Sunday, where the loving and merciful – and just – king of the universe is praised and glorified.
This morning I am going to pose a question which I will humbly seek to answer; “What kind of King is this?” What kind of King is Jesus?
What kind of king is this that we have gathered here this morning to celebrate? Is Christ a tyrannical King who forces obedience? Is Christ a weak king unable to rule His Kingdom?
This morning, let us consider just what kind of king He is…
The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once sought to describe the incarnation of God in Christ. He used this simple illustrative story:
A certain king was very rich. His power was known throughout the world. But he was most unhappy, for he desired a wife. Without a queen, the vast palace was empty.
One day, while riding through the streets of a small village, he saw a beautiful peasant girl. So lovely was she that the heart of the king was won. He wanted her more than anything he had ever desired. On succeeding days, he would ride by her house on the mere hope of seeing her for a moment in passing.
He wondered how he might win her love. He thought, I will draw up a royal decree and require her to be brought before me to become the queen of my land. But, as he considered, he realized that she was a subject and would be forced to obey. He could never be certain that he had won her love.
Then, he said to himself, “I shall call on her in person. I will dress in my finest royal garb; wear my diamond rings, my silver sword, my shiny black boots, and my most colorful tunic.
I will overwhelm her and sweep her off her feet to become my bride.” But, as he pondered the idea, he knew that he would always wonder whether she had married him for the riches and power he could give her.
Then, he decided to dress as a peasant, drive to the town, and have his carriage let him off. In disguise, he would approach her house. But, somehow the duplicity of this plan did not appeal to him.