Christ the King Sunday November 11, 2018
17, 339, 341, 657
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father— to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
This Sunday of the Church Year is called “Christ the King Sunday.” And this theme is evident in all of today’s Scripture readings. Daniel 7:13-14 describes “a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven,” to whom was given “authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Also, John 18:33-37, in response to Pilate’s question, “You are a king then?”, Jesus said: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
In today’s text, Revelation 1:4-8, Jesus Christ is called “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
The message for today is clear, isn’t it? Jesus is King. Jesus is reigning supreme. Jesus is in control of everything in the universe and in our individual lives. And while this is the designated message for this Sunday, given world events, could it come at a more important time? If you are seriously ill, afraid, depressed, lonely, in financial difficulty or a troubled relationship, could the reminder that “Jesus Christ is King Over All” come at a more crucial time?
You and I are living in a time of great fear. Chaos, crime, and calamity seem to be increasing. Islamic terrorist groups are attempting to outdo each other in carnage and death. Along with these fearful events, we see an increasing opposition to Christianity. Did you realize that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today? It is.
Look around. What do you see? Lawlessness. Coldness. Heartlessness. Godlessness. Demonic doctrines. The widespread practice of witchcraft, occultism, and Satanism. Terrible things are heralding the approaching end of the world, as clearly stated in Scripture. Paul wrote to Timothy, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Are we not seeing such prophecies of Scripture, including those of Revelation, fulfilled before our very eyes on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News?
We have a great need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is King; that Jesus Christ is in complete control. The apostle John had this need too. When he wrote Revelation, he was an old man, perhaps in his nineties, living in exile on the island of Patmos. So also the seven churches of Revelation needed this reminder—churches with serious internal troubles and facing fierce external persecution. “Who is in control?” they must have wondered.
Revelation was written to answer this question: “Who is in control?” While some parts of this letter may be difficult to understand, the overall theme is perfectly clear. Jesus, our King, is reigning. Jesus, our King, is in control. Jesus, our King, has overcome, and we overcome too through faith in Him.
Again and again Revelation celebrates this victory in Christ. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise,” (Revelation 5:12). “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever,” (Revelation 11:15). “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty, just and true are Your ways, King of the ages,” (Revelation 15:3).
In Revelation 4, John is invited to step through a door in heaven in order to see the behind-the-scenes reality of God controlling all things. John sees the ultimate end of Satan and evil and unbelief, and the ultimate victory of the Christian Church and every believer in Christ. Some of what he sees is glorious. Some of what he sees is frightening. But before he is permitted to step through that door in heaven and to see that future, he is given the powerful view of Christ in today’s text—the view of Christ as the eternal, omnipotent King.
Dear friends, before you and I step through any door in our lives—the front door of our homes and the unknown events beyond it; the front door of this church building and the unknown future of our congregation and ministry; the door of a relationship, the door of a career, the door of a hospital room or hospice—we too need this same powerful view of Jesus Christ as our King.
This is the view offered in our text, Revelation 1:4-8. Today, I want you to consider this view of Jesus in very personal terms as we consider the theme THE KING AND I. What kind of King is He? To summarize the text: He is the Supreme King, the Faithful King, the Loving King, the Coming King, and the Complete King. Let’s briefly consider these aspects of His kingship and their impact on our lives.
FIRST, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SUPREME KING. In Revelation 1:5, Jesus is described as “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Consider the implications of this truth. Not a day passes when we fail to hear about the plans of earthly rulers. President Trump plans to do this. Premier Putin plans to do that. ISIS threatens this. North Korea threatens that.
Many here may remember when Nikita Krushev, on October 12, 1960, banged his shoe on a table at the United Nations and called for the burial of Western Imperialism. The Christians of the First Century A.D. must have felt similar fear when Nero, Domitian, Trajan, and other Roman emperors banged their sandals on the table and threatened to destroy Christianity.
Yet, despite what we read in the morning newspaper or hear on the nightly news, neither President Trump, nor Premier Putin, nor even ISIS nor Al Qaeda are controlling world events. Jesus Christ is, for He is “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
When world or personal events unravel in your life, remember: THE KING AND I. Remind yourself, “Jesus Christ is my King. He is controlling every aspect of my world and my life. I refuse to be afraid.”
SECOND, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR FAITHFUL KING. In Revelation 1:5, Jesus is described as “the faithful witness.” The Greek is more literally ‘the witness, the faithful one,’ with an emphasis on faithful. Name me even one earthly king, president, premier, prime minister, senator, congressman, dictator, or career politician to whom that single word FAITHFUL could be consistently applied. Which one was faithful to duty, faithful to campaign promises, and faithful to constituents?
Yet, Jesus Christ is such a King. He is faithful to His word, faithful to His calling, and faithful to promises. He was faithful to the point of death. In Revelation 19:11 we read this description of Jesus, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.”
Indeed, it is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—His unswerving commitment to the cross—that in Scripture is the absolute proof that God keeps all His promises to us. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:18-19, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’”
So if today you are wondering, “Will God keep all His promises to me—the promise to provide for me; the promise to forgive me; the promise to never leave me; the promise to strengthen me, protect me, save me, and deliver me safely from this life to the next? At such times remember, “THE KING AND I.” Remind yourself, “Jesus Christ is my King. Others may fail me, but He will not.” He is eternally faithful.
THIRD, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR LOVING KING. Are there more beautiful words in Scripture than these? “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” (Revelation 1:5). There are certain passages in Scripture which in and of themselves encapsulate the entire Gospel. John 3:16, for example, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Or Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Or Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Certainly, Revelation 1:5 falls into this category, “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.” When Jesus died for us on the cross, He made complete atonement for our sins. Nothing was left undone. Nothing remains for us to do. We were set free and washed clean by His once-for-all sacrifice. As the apostle John also wrote in his First Epistle, “And the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7).
The other verb in this phrase—“loves us”—is in the present tense, the tense of ongoing action. In other words, the love of Jesus Christ, our gracious God and King, is always present in our lives, even when we think it is not. He is loving us in the good times, and equally loving us through the bad times. And it is this unstoppable, irrevocable love of our King that determines every aspect of the way He governs our lives.
So, if you are ever tempted to doubt God’s love for you, remember: THE KING AND I. Remember what the King sacrificed to save you. Remember that it was His love for you that compelled Him to make that sacrifice, and that supreme, undeserved sacrifice proves His love for you.
FOURTH, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR COMING KING. “Look,” says John in Revelation 1:7, “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be. Amen.” Do you sense any uncertainty in this verse about Christ’s return? No. Instead, we’re told, “He is coming. Every eye will see Him. Peoples of the earth will mourn. So shall it be. Amen.” A solemn declaration of biblical truth.
And dear friends, when our King returns, we will finally see Him as He is and realize the consummation of all our hopes. That hope is described so beautifully in Revelation 7:14-17, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
When life seems hard and burdens seem heavy, remember that your King is coming again soon. And when He comes, you will be able to say “THE KING AND I” for all eternity.
LASTLY, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR COMPLETE KING. He states this of Himself in the last verse of the text, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Alpha and Omega are the beginning and end, the first and last letters, of the Greek alphabet, equivalent to our “A” and “Z”.
When applied to Jesus, this name has at least three meanings, namely, that He is eternal—the One “who is and who was and who is to come,” that He is the Source of all things, and that He is also our all-sufficient Savior.
You’ve heard advertisements from retailers who promise, “We stock everything from A to Z.” The same idea is contained in the name “Alpha and Omega.” Jesus Christ, our great God and King, is everything we need in life from “A” to “Z”. As expressed in one of my favorite hymns: “Just as I am, poor wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind; yea, all I need, in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come. I come.”
Jesus Christ is Our Supreme King, faithful King, loving King, coming King, and complete King. When you walk through the door today into the problems or worries of next week, leave saying, “THE KING AND I. THE KING AND I.”
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.