Christ the King, Proper C
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
Colossians 1:11-20 Sermon
November 24, 2013
Click here for internet service broadcast/podcast.
Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal, With One Voice, & Lutheran Service Book):
WOV 674 "Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen!"
TLH 657 "Beautiful Saviour"
TLH 341 "Crown Him With Many Crowns"
LSB 837 "Lift High The Cross"
JESUS IS IN CHARGE
TEXT: (vs. 18-20) ď18 [Jesus Christ] is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, the first to come back to life so that he would have first place in everything. 19 God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ. 20 God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christís blood sacrificed on the cross.Ē
Reality TV shows seem to be all the rage these days. Quite honestly, I think a lot of them aren't worth the time it takes to watch them. But there are a few that I believe have a very noble purpose. One of these shows that has captured my attention is called "Undercover Boss," which airs on Friday evenings.
It's a simple concept really. The boss of a particularly large corporation puts on a disguise and goes undercover in his company to experience things first-hand. The reason is because it is really difficult for a boss to get an idea of what really goes on out in the field when he or she is sitting in an office, most often far removed from where the action is.
Of course the show is drastically edited so it moves along at a fairly rapid pace, and a lot of the boring in-between stuff is removed. Even so, the bosses featured on this show have a real eye-opening experience when all is said and done.
From all appearances, the bosses who go undercover are genuinely concerned about the people that work for them. They know that the success or failure of their business has a lot to do with the people who work for them. But bosses are human too. Sometimes they have implemented things that look good on paper; but in reality, they fail miserably. And some good and valuable employees wind up walking away out of sheer frustration, simply because of unaddressed issues, or unresolved problems, or just bad management. Businesses suffer, people are unhappy, and something needs to be done about it.
Undercover Boss is dealing with a very real problem in this world; and watching this show is quite fascinating. This is a problem that we experience too, but not necessarily in the work place. Sometimes we feel that God is like that CEO sitting in some ivory tower office someplace, doing his own thing, and making arbitrary decisions; basically treating us like pawns on a chess board. We feel that he is so far removed from us that we get the sense that he doesn't really know the conditions under which we live, or the problems that we face each and every day. When we feel this separation from God, then we have a sense of despondency about everything. And Satan would like nothing better than to make us feel that God isn't there for us; or if he is, then he just doesn't care.
Our Scripture readings and theme for today tell us just the opposite. Jesus is our King, Jesus is the one who is in charge. And what's more, Jesus very clearly says in the very last sentence of Matthew's Gospel: "...Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Those are words that we can trust, because we know that Jesus would never lie to us or mislead us.
Today is the last day of the church year, a day when we talk about Jesus Christ being the King. This is a fact I believe we all know. And even if we have a despondent moment along the way, we still believe and accept the fact that Jesus is not only our Saviour from sin, but also the Lord and King of our lives. All power in heaven and on earth is his. He is definitely the person in charge.
While the Lordship and Kingship of Christ might be evident to us, it wasnít so with the early church in the city of Colosse, and that's the group of people Paul was writing to in our Epistle Lesson for today; the Colossians. They were having trouble accepting the fact that Christ was above all else. Hereís what was going on:
Colosse was a major population center in Asia Minor. It had been captured and made a part of the Roman Empireunder Antiochus III somewhere between the second and third centuries B.C. At that time, it was settled by several thousand Jewish settlers from the regions of Mesopotamia and Babylon.
But since Colosse was a major commercial center, other people appeared on the scene with numerous popular philosophies of the dayónone of which were consistent with the Christian faith. As a result, there began to appear a hybrid mixture of Christianity and false doctrine.
For one thing, there was the popular belief that the angels were in control of human destiny on earth. For them, the only means of escape was by worshipping these angelic powers and seeking their help as mediators between God and his created world. This of course was robbing Christ of his glory and displacing him as the only mediator between God and mankind.
Another belief was that Christians must practice abstinence and self-punishment to somehow try to ďescapeĒ temptations and evil influences of the world. In effect, this was putting part of the responsibility of salvation upon the people themselves, instead of on Christ alone. This was an early church version of pietism.
Undoubtedly there were other areas where the Christian faith was being compromised by the Colossians; these are just the two specifics that Paul mentions.
And so as Paul begins his letter to the Christians in Colosse in our text for today, he talks about Jesus in no uncertain terms. He establishes the truth of the Gospelóthat Jesus has saved us from sin and the devil, and that through faith in him we have redemption and forgiveness for our sins; that Jesus is true God, and that through him all things were created by him and for him; that he is the truly supreme above all things; that he is head of the church; and that nothing in heaven or on earth is greater than Jesus Christ. Indeed Christ is King; not only is he our king, he is king over everything. Whether people believe it or not, or whether they accept it or not, it is a fact nevertheless. Thatís just the way it is.
So where does that leave us? We know and believe that Christ is our King. So now what?
The first thing we need to consider is the will of God. Do we know what Godís will is? How can we get a glimpse of what is going on in the mind of the Almighty?
A good place to start is in 1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 1-4 where Paul writes: ďI urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyoneófor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.Ē
I've often quoted this passage regarding God's will, because this really hits the bottom line. This is telling us that God wants everyone to know him and be saved. He wants nobody to be condemned. Furthermore, he wants his children to pray to him, and to live peaceful and godly lives.
Okay, so how do we lead godly lives? If we look at John chapter 14 verse 15, Jesus speaks these words: ďIf you love me, you will obey what I command.Ē That would lead us then to the 10 commandments, which Jesus summarizes as ďloving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.Ē
So if we want to know what the will of God is, all we need to do is look at what he tells us in the Bible. This is where he has revealed himself, and where he tells us what his will is. The Bible is clear enough on this subject that we should never be left second-guessing. Since Christ is our King, we will always search the Scriptures to find what his will is, and what is pleasing to him.
In our country, especially today, we are confronted with a lot of political disappointments. Politicians have let us down. And in a similar sense, God will not always measure up to peopleís expectations, at least in an earthly sense. When a tragedy like the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center occurs, people will systematically begin to question God. Theyíll say, ďIf Christ is truly a kingÖif God is above everything else in this world, if God is really in charge, why did he allow something like the 9/11 tragedy to occur?Ē And whatís even worse, are the well-meaning people who will look at a tragedy like that, and glibly say, ďOh well, it was Godís will.Ē Statements like that are of no help or consolation whatsoever.
It is important for us to remember that there are many, many things in this world that happen which are NOT Godís will. Thatís right, this world is full of events and occurrences and actions that are not Godís will.
To prove this point, all we need to do is take a brief look at things. It is not Godís will that 9/11 occurred; it is not Godís will that Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler carried out the atrocities they did on their people; it is not Godís will that people are starving to death; it is not Godís will that millions of unborn children die each year through abortion; it is not Godís will that women and children are battered and bruised; it is not Godís will that people are beaten and robbedÖ.and the list could go on and on.
Of course these things are not Godís will; if they were, then we would have a very sadistic God indeed. Furthermore, if all of these maladies were Godís will, then he wouldnít be consistent with what he tells us in the Bible.
Godís will isnít shown in the tragedies that occur on this earth; rather, Godís will is shown in how we, as Christians respond to them. Since Christ is our Lord and King, we respond to those things that are not Godís will with what we know Godís will to be.
Paul gives some great advice in Romans chapter 12, verses 17-21: ď17 Donít pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. 18 As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone. 19 Donít take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let Godís anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, 'I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord.' 20 But, 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed.' 21 Donít let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with good."
As long as there are evil people on this earth, bad things are going to happen. Itís sad, but true. Thankfully, God does give us the opportunity to respond according to his will. He tells us how to do it. We respond as loyal subjects in Christís kingdom.
If we want to get to the very heart of the matter regarding Christ being our King, letís look at what Paul writes in verses 13 and 14 of our text today: "13 God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves.14 His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven."
The world is indeed evil. It is full of the influence and work of the devil. The devilís kingdom is one of darkness. We donít have to look too hard at our lives to see how weíve been influenced by this. The sinful ways of the world have become our ways far too often. Satanís ways have lured us time and again away from what is Godís will to what is his.
But we have been transferred into the Kingdom of Christónot by anything we have done, but by what God has done for us. We have entered this kingdom of light through faith in Jesus our Saviour. Through him, we have redemptionóhe has paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross. Through him we have forgiveness for our sinsóGod will no longer hold any of our old sins against us; they have been completely and totally forgiven. This is all Christís work, all done for us on our behalf. Therefore, Christ is indeed our King, through nothing more than faith alone.
This morning, I used the illustration of the popular TV show "Undercover Boss" to demonstrate the benefit of a top level boss leaving his office and interacting with the employees. Every episode that I've seen shows the boss coming to the startling realization that he didn't have a clue what his people were going through until he went amongst them and worked side-by-side with them.
This is exactly what our King did. Our Saviour Jesus took on human flesh, and came to the earth as both true God and true man. Hebrews chapter 4 verses 15-16 gives us some special words of comfort: "15 We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didnít sin. 16 So we can go confidently to the throne of Godís kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time."
That's our King, that's Jesus, the one who's in charge. Whatever life happens to hand us, we know that he's been there and done that already. He's experienced it all, and he's there to be our helper and our advocate.
So if we are ever despondent, or we think our Lord is far and distant, remember the words of Psalm 121: "1 I look up toward the mountains. Where can I find help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let you fall. Your guardian will not fall asleep. 4 Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps. 5 The Lord is your guardian. The Lord is the shade over your right hand. 6 The sun will not beat down on you during the day, nor will the moon at night. 7 The Lord guards you from every evil. He guards your life. 8 The Lord, [Jesus Christ our King] guards you as you come and go, now and forever."