the one about our king...
November 25, 2019, 9:00 AM

Sermon from November 24, 2019

Text: Luke 23: 33-43

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our risen and eternal King – Christ our Lord. Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, today is Christ the King Sunday, a day that we remember, celebrate and live into the truth and love that Jesus our Christ is our sovereign and eternal king. We get to remember who Jesus is for us – a king and ruler of our lives through love and grace. This is a feast day in the church that is a relatively recent addition to our church calendar. It was put in place in 1925 as a response to the rising nationalism throughout the world at that time, but especially in Europe. We remember that Jesus is our king who saves us – not the person speaking into a microphone to thousands.

And what glorious text do we get to remember this day?

His crucifixion of course.

On this day that we remember how Jesus is Lord of all, we remember that truth by recalling and reading the text before he dies. This text where our King of Kings is nailed to a cross between two criminals; as soldiers and passersby mock and ridicule him. Seems like a southern sized back-handed compliment or as I heard a comedian say this week, a big fore-handed insult.

It’s weird, isn’t it? The day we remember that Jesus is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we do so by reading about his death. What a wonderful way to bridge the passing of one church year to the next?

This day could’ve used a text more fitting to what we normally associate with kings? When Jesus was baptized, would be a fitting one, ‘This is my son!’ Or when Mary washes Jesus’ feet with her hair. Even the transfiguration experience upon the mountain. Perhaps the wedding at Cana when the water turned to wine. Any of those texts would help us better relate to Jesus as a king in the ways we know today.

Here’s the thing about kings in our world; for the most part, when we remember them, we don’t remember the ways they were tried and killed. Even when we think back on the terrible kings from our world’s history we remember their opulence, their wealth, their power.

We remember the lands they held, the things they could get done by simply speaking. We remember the glitz and glamour of their lifestyle and the way the people around them acted towards them. When we remember kings and royalty, we typically give it an all-star treatment – like watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix (which is really good by the way). Sure, we may talk about their struggles, but we do so in the context of their realm of power.

Typically, when we remember kings and celebrate who they are – we don’t do it like this.

We know that our Lord Jesus isn’t your typical king. He isn’t like the ‘kings of the world’ that we know so well through history.

He is not a king that seeks power. He is not a king that changes the rules so that he benefits the most. He is not a king that flaunts wealth in small and ridiculous ways. He isn’t your typical king.

He is, the king of kings. He is the one whom we all are called to recognize as the one who rules over all.

His rule is different. He doesn’t command allegiance by forcing people to love him. He doesn’t demand loyalty by bullying people into compliance. He doesn’t demean, belittle, or go out of his way to show how ‘powerful’ he is. Our King of Kings doesn’t flaunt, doesn’t gloat, doesn’t bully, doesn’t act like many of the kings and rulers within our history and who are in power today.

Instead, he’s the one who has come down to be with the people under his charge out of love. He is the one who I believe truly understands what it means to live life like the rest of us. He is the one that even as he is being put to death, shows and speaks love for those around him.

And that’s the part of who Jesus is as King that I want to talk a little about this morning. What Jesus does on the day of his crucifixion and what that means for us today.

We know that crucifixion is brutal. We’ve been told that. But, have you ever considered what it is about crucifixion that ultimately kills a person? Many believe that it is blood loss. And, of course we would think that because those who are crucified have nails forced through their wrists and feet.

But, here’s the thing – if you do it right (and the Romans were really, really good at it) – you can hammer a nail through this part of your hand and wrist and you’ll bleed for sure – but you won’t bleed out. You’ll be in agonizing pain. You’ll be hanging there, but you won’t (necessarily) die from that.

Then, a little plank is nailed to the center beam of the cross that’s up high enough that when you place your feet upon it, your legs are a little bent. You’ve probably seen the paintings depicting those who are crucified with their legs bent off to the side.

There’s a reason for all that. Because remember, the Romans were really good at execution and they were brutally efficient in their implementation of it.

You have to hang from your wrists, but you’re supported by your feet. You’re fighting the pain in three spots on your body.

Yet, when you get tired, you’ll hang even more. And your arms are put in such a place that your own body will begin to cut off your breathing. In order to take a breath, you’ll have to push yourself up to allow yourself to suck in air into lungs that are in desperate need of it.

Crucifixion doesn’t kill you by bleeding you out, or even starvation. You die by strangulation. Strangled by your own body. As your upper body hangs down with your arms above your head. You begin to lose the ability to breathe. So, you need to push up with your legs to take a breath.

And you notice in our reading this morning, Jesus and the criminals at either side talk a lot. And we know that the one thing you need in order to speak – is air. You need to be able to breathe to talk, if you don’t have air in your lungs, you cannot speak.

So, what kind of King is our Lord Jesus?

Not only is he a king who has come down to be with us. Not only is he Emmanuel – God with us.

Not only is he the one who listens to us. He proclaims salvation to all no matter who they are, but especially to the ones who are pushed to the side, taken advantage of, or who are mocked by those around them as ‘less than.’ Not only is he the one who speaks a powerful truth of God to those in high places of power throughout society. Not only is he the one who speaks and even the winds obey him; where he utters a word and a person is healed.

Not only is our King of Kings that kind of king. But, our Lord, our King, out of great love for all of creation – out of love for even those criminals at either side of him – out of love for those inflicting pain and torture upon him – out of that kind of deep, bottomless love, our king pushes through the pain to tell us.

Our king pushes through the pain to tell us we are loved.

Our king pushes through the pain to tell us we are forgiven.

Our king pushes through the pain to speak to us. To love us. To invite us. To welcome us.

Our king – Christ our king – pushes through the pain to show you what kind of king he is for you and for the entire world.

Why? Because this king that we follow isn’t concerned for how others treat him, view him, or mock him. This king that we follow is concerned about us. This king is concerned about those over there. This king is concerned about the one who others have trampled upon.

This king loves you. No matter what. Our King eternal shows and lives into that love in the ways that no earthly king, ruler, emperor, or president has or will ever show love. Christ our King pushes through the pain to tell us, to tell creation, to tell me, to tell you – that you are loved and forgiven. Always. Amen.

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