Tag Archives: truth

Christ the King, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 29B

Today is the last Sunday in the season of Pentecost. This Sunday is also referred to as “Christ the King” Sunday by certain liturgical churches. Though the scripture readings are still divided into two tracks, the emphasis for both is the same: Jesus is “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.”

 

Track 1: David Prophesies a Righteous Kingdom

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 132:1-13 (14-19)
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

In today’s Gospel reading, Pilate is faced with a predicament. He realized that Jesus was innocent of the charges against him. He also suspected that Jesus was more than meets the eye. He was left with a difficult decision. From John’s Gospel:

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”   (John 18:33-37)

Pilate was conflicted. He wanted to do what was right. He did not want to kill Jesus. He was looking for a way out. Yet, he wanted to keep peace with the Jewish people. To him they were a troubling people that he did not understand. He did not understand what it meant to be “king of the Jews.” Rome was in charge. Ultimately he knew that he must answer to Rome. He was a politician and he had to be shrewd. He felt he needed to be politically correct more than being right. In other words, he was part of a very corrupt system of government.

Do we not wish for a government today that follows the rule of law? I believe this is true worldwide. Perhaps one of the keys for such a government  would be a “fear of God” more than the politics of the moment. Do not many of our political leaders fear losing their position more than pleasing God. Once in power many of them will do whatever it takes to remain in power.

Only God can establish a government that is both secure and righteous. King David spoke of such a government. From today’s reading from 2 Samuel we have the last recorded words of David in the Old Testament:

The spirit of the Lord speaks through me,
his word is upon my tongue.

The God of Israel has spoken,
the Rock of Israel has said to me:

One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God,

is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

Is not my house like this with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.

Will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?

But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away;
for they cannot be picked up with the hand;

to touch them one uses an iron bar
or the shaft of a spear.
And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.   (2 Samuel 23:2-7)

David said there would be a government ruled by a man of righteousness:

One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God.

This government is the millennial reign of Christ. Jesus is the righteous ruler. As part of the body of Christ we are destined to be participants in his reign. The psalmist wroteL

For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired her for his habitation:

“This shall be my resting-place for ever;
here will I dwell, for I delight in her.

I will surely bless her provisions,
and satisfy her poor with bread.

I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will rejoice and sing.

There will I make the horn of David flourish;
I have prepared a lamp for my Anointed.

As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame;
but as for him, his crown will shine.”   (Psalm 132:14-19)

John the Revelator saw in a vision saw the heavenly hosts:

They sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
    saints from[a] every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving[b] our God,
    and they will reign on earth.”   (Revelation 5:9-10)

We will be the priests about whom David prophesied? Are we ready for our role in the millennial kingdom? We are if we are those whom God has “clothed with salvation.” Are we so concerned about what the world may think of us? It is not the fear of this world, but the fear of God that produces righteousness as we are continually washed by the blood of Jesus.

 

 

 

Track 2: The Coming King

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Daniel was being held in captivity in Babylon. As he was praying he had a vision:

As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
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.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.   (Daniel 7:13-14)

Daniel’s vision was about a kingship – one that would be everlasting. It would be over all the earth. The psalmist wrote about this kingship:

Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;
you are from everlasting.   (Psalm 93:3)

What is this kingship and who is this king? In today’s Gospel reading Pilate wanted to know the answer to this question.

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”   (John 18:33-37)

How interested is the world today concerning concerning this subject? We would probably have to answer: “Not very much.” Yet today we are closer than ever to seeing this kingship. Are we so out of touch with unfolding events around us? Is the Church?

This kingdom is all important. John the Revelator, who saw a vision of this kingship, tells us that we are to be a part of this kingship:

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.   (Revelation 1:6-8)

The King is surely coming. He is coming soon. When he comes what will be our response? The truth is that the world is not prepared for his coming. Perhaps some in the Church who are probably not prepared for his coming. Do we not assume that this kingship is far into the future. This was not the case for the Early Church. A good part of their teaching had to do with preparation for the return of the King.

As Pilate cross-examined Jesus, he was obviously concerned about whether or not Jesus was a king. Jesus asked him this question: ““Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” This is a curious question because, as Pilate replied, he was not a Jew. But the question is not a Jewish question. It is a universal question. Jesus came to seek the lost and he was reaching out to Pilate as he is to us. Are we engaged with who he is and what he is about?

As Jesus told Pilate, his kingdom was not from this world. His kingdom is for the world to come. We have a part of Jesus’s kingdom. We are to become a kingdom of priests, serving God the Father. Or we too consumed by this world to understand the role we will play and the preparation for that role?

Did Pilate say Jesus was king? Jesus wanted to know. Do we say that Jesus is king? Jesus wants to know. He is the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, says John the Revelator. What do we say about him? Are we ready to receive him?

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Monday in Easter Week

phariseesSelected Truth

As we know, unlike the men, the women were quick to believe in the resurrection. The Jewish leaders realized the danger of such belief and they took extraordinary steps to prevent this from happening:

Suddenly Jesus met Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, `His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.  (Matthew 28:9-15)

The tomb was empty. That was a fact. What was needed was a plausible explanation that the people might believe. Does this sound like today’s political games? Why must so much effort be made to obscure the truth? Because the truth is dangerous.

Peter was not known for political correctness:

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the multitude, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know– this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.  (Acts 2:14,22-25)

Where is the bold leadership that we need as a people today? As people of God let us be filled with the Spirit and set free from the fear of worldly people. Let us proclaim the truth of the Gospel with boldness. Jesus is risen from the dead. Truth is on the side of Christians. Only God’s word is true. Lies are a sign of unbelief and the falsehood of this world is quickly passing away.

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