Christ the King (A)
I’ve been watching a TV show called “The Crown.”
Has anybody seen it?
The fourth season is streaming on Netflix.
It’s a historical drama series
that follows the life and family of
Queen Elizabeth II—
the reigning sovereign of Great Britain.
It’s really enjoyable to watch—
they live in a different world, don’t they.
Now, we didn’t have to
watch “The Crown” to
know that the royal family of
has its issues. . . .
Their lives are so public
we’ve read about and
heard about their
problems for years.
But it’s not all the
personal and relationship stuff
that bothers me so much. . . .
everybody has those!!!
What has disconcerted me the most
is the over-the-top luxurious lifestyle they live.
So the more I watch. . .
I have begun to feel somewhat
sorry for them. . .
Bless their hearts.
Now that may sound strange. . .
feeling sorry for the Royal Family.
Maybe it’s my American sensibilities that biases
me against a monarchy and
all the glitter and gold
that goes with it. . .
or maybe it’s my upbringing in Eastern Kentucky. . . .
or maybe it’s how I read the Gospel. . .
But the more I watch the show. . .
with all the over the top luxury. . .
with all the fancy clothes. . .
with all the fancy dinners. . .
and all the hundreds of servants
that are there for their every wish and want. . . .
and how many castles does it take
to get away from it all every now and then?
all of that is just not good for the human soul.
And the scenes that show
the contrast between the way the royals live. . .
and the way the more common British folk. . .
and the poor live. . .
makes it all seem well. . . grotesque.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. . .
I’m not judging them as people at all.
I know much of all this
is all a tradition
that I don’t understand. . .
about an institution that
I have no emotional tie to.
But all I can think about
as I watch this show. . .
King Jesus is different. . .
King Jesus is a very different kind of Sovereign. . .
a very different kind of monarch. . .
a very different kind of King.
The Gospels. . .
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. . .
make a phenomenal claim. . .
The Gospels claim that when the
Second Person of the Holy Trinity
became incarnate. . .
became human. . .
that a new Kingdom in the
cosmos was inaugurated. . . .
The Kingdom of God.
And Jesus is the Sovereign—
Jesus is the King of this new Kingdom.
And everything Jesus does
are signs of what that Kingdom is like. . .
healing the sick. . .
feeding the hungry. . .
raising the dead. . .
A new power is in control of this Kingdom.
And there’s an underlying storyline
than runs all through
the four Gospels. . . .
and in St. Paul too . . . .
and that is the storyline that
compares what kind of
King Jesus is. . . .
to the kind of
powers who reign in the world. . .
The Roman Emperor. . .
King Herod the Great. . .
Herod’s Son, King Herod Antipas.
The Gospels show a stark contrast
between them and Jesus—
the new king.
And lifestyle is one of those comparisons.
Have you ever been to Palatine Hill
in Rome and toured the ruins of the
palaces of the Roman Emperors?
Or read about slavery in the Roman Empire. . .
40% of the population of Italy were slaves.
and the slaves’ purpose in life
was to cater to every whim and
wish of the Sovereign and the ruling classes.
And where Jesus was—
90% of the Palestinian population were peasants. . .
Really struggling just to get by. . .
Jesus is a very different sort of Sovereign
a different kind of King. . .
That’s why so many were following Jesus. . .
They were hungry and wanted to be fed.
And Jesus fed them.
King Jesus is not about upward mobility. . .
but downward mobility.
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave. (Phil. 2)
Jesus chooses not to live
apart from His subjects. . .
but in the very midst of them.
And even identifies with them in a very unique way. . .
especially if we’re struggling. . . .
especially if we’re poor or hungry. . .
especially if we’re the stranger or ill.
We just heard it. . .
“as you do to the least. . .
you do unto me,”
Let that sink in.
King Jesus is different. . . .
Lord Caesar was born in a palace. . .
Lord Jesus was born in a manger.
And think of how kings in the New Testament
exerted their power.
King Herod the Great slaughtered the innocent
newborns when his power was threatened. . . .
Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist
when his moral decisions were questioned. . .
And the Roman Emperor maintained
the peace using fear and violence and domination.
Jesus was not the first. . .
nor the last. . .
to be nailed to a tree.
The Romans crucified thousands upon thousands.
In 4 BC,
there was an uprising near where
Jesus grew up in Nazareth.
And the Roman general
marched 2,000 Galileans to Jerusalem. . . .
and crucified them all in a single day.
By the time crucifixion was
a staple of the Roman Empire,
the Roman justice system had employed
even boiling in oil as
methods of torture and execution.
Fear and Violence and Domination
But King Jesus is different. . . .
a very different kind of King.
His power is exhibited with mercy
I am so glad. . .
And I bet you are too. . .
that Jesus is our king.
Everyone follows someone or
some other type of power. . . .
some sovereign entity. . .
maybe it’s an ideology. . .
maybe it’s ourselves.
We are blessed to follow King Jesus.
The Sovereign who is in the very midst of us. . .
Think of the Eucharist.
And who makes the most ultimate sacrifices . . . for us.
A King who reigns wearing a very different kind of crown. . .
And who reigns hanging from a very strange looking throne.
And the most wonderful thing about us
being a subject in the Kingdom of God
and having Jesus as our Sovereign. . .
especially in uncertain times like these. . .
is that we know which King really reigns in the world. . .
and which King will reign for all of eternity. . .
and a King who can offer eternal life. . .
who can save.
No other Sovereign. . .
None. . .
Can offer that.
Holy Spirit 11/21-22/2020