John 5:19-40

            Christ the King Sunday is a time in which the church observes and recognizes the exaltation and glorification of God the Son as authority over every dominion.  Following the emphasis of that Sunday, these verses in John’s Gospel provide the words from Jesus as to the basis for such power.  Jesus is God.  God the Father works through God the Son.  The works that Jesus did bear testimony to the cosmic reality that Jesus is Lord of all.  Jesus lets us in on his relationship to the Father, and to his actual position and power.
            In the face of such biblical evidence as to the greatness and majesty of the Lord Jesus, the only valid and appropriate response is sheer submission to Christ’s authority.  Just as Jesus listened to the Father and obeyed the Father’s will, so we need to listen to Jesus and carry out his will.  Just as Jesus enjoyed his relationship with the Father, so we are to bask in our wonderful relationship with Jesus.  Since Jesus submitted to death on a cross and rose from the dead through God’s power, we now have access to that power by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
            We need not bend to any other master other than King Jesus, the rightful ruler of the universe.  Let us put away all others “gods” in which we depend upon for solace and help.  Jesus is a leader who guides us with grace into God’s will for us.
            King Jesus, I submit my life to you alone.  You are the object and desire of my heart.  Use me to work your divine will on this earth, to your own glory and honor.  Amen.

Christ the King Sunday

Christ the King Sunday is intended to help us see the cosmic reality that Jesus reigns over all creation.  It is an intentional proclamation that every creature on earth must submit to Jesus as the only rightful Sovereign of the universe.  This Sunday always comes just before Advent so that we remember we do not only anticipate a baby in a manger, but a great king.
            The fact that Jesus is Lord of all exposes three problems that we might face.  First, because we live in a fallen world and we are all profoundly touched by sin, in our depravity we have this nasty tendency to build our own petty kingdoms and set ourselves up as masters over our own small worlds.  People who have been hurt (which is really all of us) often attempt to seize power for themselves in order to avoid ever being hurt again, or in the belief that if we had power we could stop others from being hurt.  The classic villains of movies, literature, and even gaming are the ones who seek to destroy the earth so that they rebuild it in their own idea of how the world should operate.  Instead of submitting to Christ’s rule, which we may feel insecure about, we will control our little ends of the world to protect ourselves from pain.
            A second problem which Christ as King exposes in us is a rush to bow to other kings besides King Jesus.  When we become stressed and under pressure from life’s difficulties, we might not run to Jesus but instead rely on another ruler to alleviate the situation.  Addictions are common ways of dealing with stressful circumstances.  But we also might expect other people like fellow church members, pastors, even politicians or others leaders to give us only what Jesus can.  No matter what or who it is, we might willingly submit to them as our king because they provide a temporary way out of our problems.  Instead of taking the gospel road of confession and repentance through Jesus Christ and doing things God’s way, we instead run to the kings we have set up in his place to cope with whatever is going on in our lives.
            A third problem is that we might not realize the power we actually possess as being subjects of King Jesus.  Maybe no one has ever told you that as a believer in Jesus you have authority in Christ.  Perhaps nobody has ever communicated to you how to use the power that has been given to you in Christ.  As Christians we reign with Jesus and can exercise authority over every dominion that exists, especially the dominion of darkness (Ephesians 1:15-23).


            In the name and through the blood of Jesus we have authority to use our God-given power to confront every enemy of our souls and resist all the machinations of the devil in our lives and our churches.  This is a day to take our place with Jesus as the Body of Christ and confront the dark forces seeking to destroy us.  Let us live into the position we possess with the incomparable great power for us who believe.

Christ the King

Each year on the Christian calendar, the Sunday before the Advent season is celebrated as The Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday.  It is a day that focuses our worship on the fact that Jesus reigns over the entire world.  It is a proclamation to everyone that everything in all creation must submit to King Jesus.  And it is an invitation to actively and joyfully submit to his rule.  Jesus’ rule and kingship is not like any other kind of leadership because Jesus rules all creation through being a servant and using his power to move toward people in relationship.
            God is not a distant and detached ruler.  Jesus came to this earth in order to bring intimacy and closeness to God and humanity.  We all most likely have relationships in which we want to be closer to someone.  There are parents who are not satisfied and are sad that one of their kids is estranged from them, and they want intimacy.  A spouse may want to be closer to his/her wife or husband, having been distant for too many years.  Teenagers or twenty-somethings might want to get closer to that special someone.  There may be a friend that keeps their distance.  And although you have conversations with them, they only let you in so far.  We want to go deeper, and it just isn’t happening because the other party is not willing.
            In this we reflect the image of God within us because God feels that same longing and desire to move deeper and closer to us.  He desires intimacy, but we might keep treating him like he is some untouchable monarch like Queen Elizabeth – as if there is no chance of really getting close, and we wonder if there is any real power there to make a difference.  But God is not some figurehead, and he does not want a casual superficial relationship with us.  Christ’s kingship is based on moving closer to people, not further away.  Everything Jesus did on this earth was to bring people closer to God, because God wants a personal and familiar relationship with us.  God does not want us estranged from him, and he has gone to the greatest lengths possible to make that close relationship possible and real through the cross, resurrection, ascension, and a kingly reign that is near to us.  The kingdom of God, with Jesus as King, is a kingdom of intimacy and fellowship with the divine.
            Christ as King appropriately challenges us to think: What does it mean for us to say that Jesus Christ is the Lord of our lives?  It means much more than God calling the shots and issuing commands; it means he uses his lordship to satisfy his longing to be with us.
When Jesus of Nazareth was brought to Pilate the morning of his crucifixion, he must have looked a mess – clothes stained with dirt and blood, his face bruised, and haggard from having not slept all night. Pilate has heard of Jesus, and so he is curious to make a personal evaluation of him.  Jesus looks nothing like a king to Pilate. Pilate, in contrast, looks the image of a leader with his power suit on and all the strength of Rome behind him.  He hardly has time for this pathetic presentation of leadership in front of him.  Jesus looks like nothing more than a kingly wan-a-be.  There is nothing from Christ’s outward appearance that seems he is qualified to be any kind of leader.  We can almost picture Pilate rolling his eyes, saying “so you are the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33-37).
Jesus made it clear that his kingdom is not of this world. Two thousand years have passed since that dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, but the same issue remains.  The issue is simply this: Jesus is calling all of us to follow him and to put his Kingdom first in our lives.
            Earthly power, like Pilate’s, seeks its own ends in order to hold onto control and call the shots; but Christ’s kingly power is used to serve, to wash feet and meet needs, to move closer to people.  Earthly kingdoms use violence to conquer and maintain order and control its subjects; Christ’s kingdom uses love to transform and unify people around Jesus so that the subjects are with the king and enjoy his rule and reign.
            Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.  It is counter-cultural, and counter-intuitive to how every other leadership structure works.  It is an upside-down kingdom that seems like it won’t work or make sense.  The way up is down; to be great is not to work for a high position and kiss up to the boss and climb the ladder of wealth and success, but to embrace humility and be a servant.  The way to pursue truth is not in forming original ideas and expressing opinions, but truth is found in a person.  Truth-seeking disciples will listen to this one voice of Jesus, and filter-out all others.  It is a voice calling for us to submit to his lordship, and to do so because it brings us into an intimate relationship with God.
            Black Friday is almost here. This time of year demonstrates for us a contrast between two kingdoms.  The Kingdom of this world calls on us to demonstrate our worth and gain meaningful relationship through getting what we want and deserve. We put pressure on ourselves, because of earthly power structures, to seek that perfect gift at the perfect price in the hope that if we can have the perfect family Christmas with everyone acting perfectly that we will get what we want.  But does that ever really happen, even when we pursue it and cajole and manipulate for it?
In contrast, the kingdom that Jesus describes assures us that we do not have to prove our worth through endless accomplishments and generous gifts.  We don’t have to have the perfect Christmas experience in order to gain our deepest relational needs.  As followers of Jesus, we are sons and daughters of the living God and we do not need to achieve greatness because King Jesus has already gained it for us.
When we say that Jesus Christ is our King, we acknowledge that we are his subjects and that we march to the beat of a different drum. The heart of this relationship is our dependence Jesus who came that we might have life and have it in abundance. We can boldly state our confidence in this season that at the end of time Jesus will come again as King and Ruler of all.


Blessed are those who can say ‘Jesus is King, Lord of Life’ without their fingers crossed behind their backs, but with a sincere conviction that they are in touch with Jesus and want to be ever closer to him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.