As we study Jesus’ in the gospels we see him as a great teacher as he speaks in parables. Likewise we think of him as a healer, the great physician, who restored the sight to the blind, made the lame walk and even raised the dead. We think of him as the messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world, who willingly died on the cross for us. We call him the lamb who was slain. But this past Sunday, churches all over the world celebrated Christ the King Sunday, a day when we focus on Jesus as our Sovereign King.
Christmas is coming up in a few weeks or so and we will be singing songs about the newborn king (If I am honest, I’d tell you I already am) and those songs are all good, true, beautiful songs about the incarnate Son of God who came to Earth the first time as a baby, but what we celebrate on Christ the King Sunday is the risen King reigning victoriously, judging the nations, following his second coming. In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel we are given an image of Jesus on the throng judging all of mankind, separating the sheep from the goats.
Christ the King Sunday isn’t a day for pastors and preachers to scare their church into doing good deeds. It is a day to acknowledge our Lord as King and to give him the honor due his name. It is a day for us to come before his presence with a song, enter into his courts with praise, give thanks and call upon his name. It is a day we proclaim Christ as our King, who as St. Paul says in Ephesians, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, above every name. Christ is the head over all the church, which is his body. He is our King.
In Revelation chapters 4 & 5 we get another awesome image of our king upon the throne. “Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord our God, For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being; And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, for with your blood you have redeemed for God, from every family, language, people, and nation, a kingdom of priests to serve our God. And so, to him who sits upon the throne, and to Christ the Lamb, Be worship and praise, dominion and splendor, for ever and for evermore.” (Canticle 18, Book of Common Prayer)
There are two things to notice here. First, the honor given to Jesus as king, We read, “To him who sits on the throne, be worship and praise” While it is important to think of Jesus as the man who was crucified, we must never neglect to think of him as the man who was raised from the dead and lifted up as King over all.
Secondly, it is by the blood of Jesus that those from every family, language, people and nation are redeemed and made righteous, a kingdom of priests to serve our God. Do you see……we are redeemed, then we serve. We are made righteous, then we are able to do good works. By faith in Jesus and in what he has done we have been saved and have the ability to do good deeds.
No back to those sheep and goats…
The sheep are made righteous through Jesus and through that they come to understand him as Lord and King, they come into his presence honoring him and glorifying him. The goats, well they may know God exists, they may have heard of Jesus, but they never put their trust in him, they never acknowledge his saving power. Some of them even flat out reject him. But the sheep, that is Christ’s body, the church, they honor their Lord by doing good works and following Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor. We love, because God loved us. When we show love to others, we honor God. Our
Each and every act of kindness you do, you honor your king. It could be a huge financial gift or a simple glass of water. Perhaps an encouraging card and a few cans of soup for the local food pantry. Whatever kindness you give, when you give it out of love, in response to God’s love, you honor your king. Christ does not demand we pay tribute to him as King, in the sense of money and jewels, rather he wants us to pay tribune to his kingship through our love and charity. No gift is too small…especially those which come from the heart to help another in need.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is the Little Drummer Boy. A poor boy comes to the place of Jesus’ birth. He recognizes this baby is special and he wants to give him a gift but he’s sad because he’s poor and has nothing to give aside from his drum. So he plays, he gives honor to the king, Mary welcomes him, the animals join in the worship and the baby smiles at him. The king smiles at the simple gift that flows from the heart of the little drummer boy. Likewise, our king, Christ the King, smiles when his righteous give, especially those simple, humble, acts of kindness that we all can give so easily.
We are not made righteous through our good deeds, but our good deeds flow out of the righteousness we receive through Jesus. Acts of kindness, no matter how big or how small, are the gifts our king desires. As we usher into the Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas season, I pray you all will be remembering that kindness and love for others is how you can honor Jesus, the King, who loves us and who saved us. Worship the king, acknowledge his greatness, love others and give honor to his name.