Summary: This was the last Sunday of the church year, Christ the King Sunday. And the reading seemed to be odd. Instead of a reading about the glorious majesty of Christ, we see Christ at His lowest point, the cross. It ends up, that since the glory of Christ is t
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Three In One who brings us into Paradise.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Throughout the history of the church, devoted men and women of God have experienced visions and dreams that have given them what felt like a first hand vision of the crucifixion of Christ. A number of years ago, Mel Gibson’s movie, the Passion of the Christ gave that same sort of vision to multiple people in movie theatres across the world.
In my readings of some early church writings, I came across a monograph from an unnamed ascetic monk. This monk had a vision of the crucifixion that was very real in his mind, almost as if he was really there. He even said of his vision that it was the most terrifying thing that he had ever seen. He said he prayed for two things right after having the vision. The first thing he prayed for was that he would never have such a vision again and secondly he gave thanks to God that God had not made Him one of the disciples for he was sure that he would have ran away mad after seeing Christ die.
On this, Christ the King Sunday, we’re presented an image of our king. It is not the picture of our King in the kind of glory that we think He should be in. Instead it is our king in the kind of glory that weighs upon us. Even the Hebrew word for glory, “kavod” means heaviness, and this story weighs on us as the heaviness of God.
It is the heaviness of God upon us because within this small text, we can probably see ourselves in the people gathered before that throne. We see for ourselves, the horrific vision of our King being killed upon a cross.
Luke’s telling of the crucifixion of Christ is accented by something called the four-fold rejection of Christ. In four different ways, the people gathered rejected Christ as their King, despite it being written above Him.
They cast lots for His clothing. Christ’s body was stripped almost naked and hung on the cross. Below him lay his clothing, the things that would make Him decent before the view of the world, but instead of going up and covering the Lord, the people below him rolled dice to see who would get his tunic, his robe, his sandals. We do this when we cast lots amongst ourselves, trying to get Christ’s grace only for ourselves. We do this when we push other people out so that we can try to keep Christ as our best friend, not yours, and when we turn the church into a country club where only certain members are invited.
They sat there, just watching. The Greek word that Luke uses is the same word that someone would use while watching the gladiators or another Roman game of sport. We spectate. We don’t wish to become a part of the action. For fear, or perhaps just because of shock, we look at the way that the world responds to Christ and to the church and we sit by idly. Perhaps we associate with Him in the closed doors of the upper room, but we leave Him lonely and bloodied before the world.
They gave Him sour wine. The soldiers seemed to have had some wine laying around that was not useful for anything, no one would have consumed it, in fact, it was likely only used as a cleaning agent for the soldiers. Not fit for the inside of the body and barely fit for the outside. It is this that they gave to Christ. And we do the same. Instead of giving God of our lives, many times we give God the rejected parts of ourselves – the time that we wouldn’t use in any other way becomes our self righteous “sacrifice” to God. I was talking to a friend of mine recently who volunteered at a clothing drive. He was disgusted by the amount of people who donated used, even soiled, undergarments.
They said “If you are the Christ, save yourself!” and the thief on the cross added, “and us!” All too often we look at the church whether world wide, or the church in the United States or this small space that we occupy here demand of Jesus “save yourself! And us!” We tell Christ that if He really wants to save the world, then He should just work a miracle and make Hindus come to Christ on their own, and to make sinners better simply through some sort of magic trick. We even demand the same thing of ourselves, we look to Christ and we say, "save yourself! and us!"