Sermon St Eustachius 9.45 21 November 2021 Year B Next b4 Advent Christ King
Daniel7v9-10,13,14 Psalm 93 Revelation 1v4b-8 John 18v33-37(38)
Let us Pray:
What comes to your mind when we speak of ‘Christ the King’?
You may say, well, we are always talking about the kingdom of God, and for a kingdom there must be a King. How true, but does that really help us understand Jesus Kingship? For that we clearly need to know more about the nature, makeup and time of that Kingdom, for when we look around our present world with all its divisions, inequalities, poverty, oppression and pain, it leaves a great deal still to be desired to my mind. So what do we know about God’s kingdom, and its King, from scripture? There is a great deal, so we can only begin to scratch the surface this morning.
We know that Jesus himself during his earthly ministry often used the phrase, ‘know that the kingdom of God has come near’, so as we look at Jesus, we should get some idea of the kingdom that he came to initiate.
Jesus launched his ministry, very much in the context of what the Old Testament prophets said about a coming kingdom, and Jesus summed their thoughts up well in the words of Isaiah (58v6-7) when, in the synagogue in Nazareth he said, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, release to the captives, liberty to the oppressed and the recovery of sight to the blind”. Now that’s the sort of kingdom I believe our world so desperately needs, and Jesus is the King who is going make that a reality at his return, at his second advent.
I think that even Pilate, during his confrontation with Jesus that we have just heard, had a glimmer of an idea that this man brought before him by the religious leaders, was more than could be seen from the outside. “So you are a king” said Pilate to Jesus. “You have said so” was Jesus reply. Yes, indeed he was the eternal King, but he was not to be a king in the way that most people imagined a king to be, a king to set them free of Rome’s power at that time in their history.
Saint John in his revelation was convinced that Jesus was far more than just any kind of king when he wrote, ‘Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth’. John could see that Jesus was to be King over all the earth. And that is just what the scriptures have to say about the Messiah, and so of what we as Christians say of Jesus.
The great prophet Daniel (Dan 7v11), in his heavenly vision was given a glimpse of the coming time of Jesus kingdom, and he described it like this; ‘I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven’. Does that ring a bell with you? Was it not the way that the two angels described the coming return of Jesus in the clouds at his second advent. Speaking to the disciples at Jesus ascension, the angels described that as the exact same way in which our Lord will return to the Mount of Olives.
And Daniel continues, ‘And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him’. Daniel was just one of many prophets to see the coming day of our Lord Jesus as King and ruler over the nations.
Also prophesying like Daniel during the sixth century BC, but maybe just a little later, was the prophet Zechariah. He also saw the return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives (14v6), and went on to say, ‘And the Lord will become King over all the earth’ (14v9). But Zechariah adds an interesting description of that time (14v16), ‘then everyone of the nations shall go up to Jerusalem year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast, the festival of tabernacles’. Can you imagine that time? A time when all the nations will have to overcome their prejudices and send representatives up to Jerusalem, and there to acknowledge Jesus the Jew, but the very Son of God, as King over all the nations.
And Daniel was under no misapprehension that this was to be just a temporary kingdom, ‘His dominion is an everlasting dominion and shall not pass away’. Later in his prophecy Isaiah describes what that time will be like. It will be a time of feasting (Is25v6) and where tears are wiped away; a time when we delight, as having waited patiently for our God, we rejoice that now at last our salvation is to be finally fulfilled.
So are you beginning to get just a little picture of what it will be like to have a kingdom where Jesus is King and reigns and rules over the nations?
And in the meantime, are we just to sit back and wait? Sadly that has been the approach of many in the wider church, but what do you think each one of us should be doing? Perhaps first and foremost is that we are called by our Lord to live righteous lives that befit our Lord and his holiness.
Paul, writing to young Timothy (1Tim6v11f) encouraged him, and so us, to, ‘aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness; and to take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, to keep the commandments unstained, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
That is how we should aim to be living out our lives, living lives that delight God our Father, and our Lord Jesus, as we patiently wait the realisation of the coming kingdom.
Jesus said much about the kingdom of God, a kingdom that has both an imminent and a forthcoming aspect. Luke (16v16 NKJ) records how Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it”. Or as the New Living Translation, rather optimistically says, “and everyone is eager to get in”. That I believe should also be our vision brothers and sisters, a vision that motivates us to encourage all who we know to be among those who are ‘eager to get into the kingdom of God.
To that end we can all look to the Holy Spirit to transform our lives as we invite Jesus to become the King of our lives today.
We are called to use our gifts to show the love of our Lord Jesus; such deep love that Jesus went to Calvary to prove his love for you and for me. We can all work to build up this our lovely Church, and to invest our resources into making it a blessing, a blessing not just for us to enjoy, but also for all within our community here in this beautiful town of Tavistock.
Let us pray:
God our Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King, and to follow in his service. Help us to build His kingdom that has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory. Amen