Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday November 20th 2016 - / Luke 23:27-43 / Christ the King
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 20th 2016: The Season of Pentecost, Luke 23:5-36. "Christ the King"
And there followed [Jesus] a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for Him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide His garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other rebuked Him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Why this reading today? This is Good Friday stuff! Why is the Gospel from an account of Jesus' crucifixion? The Christmas Trees are going up, isn't today at least supposed to be about Jesus as the King of kings crowned in glory! It is Christ the King Sunday right? The Last Sunday in the Church Year!
Jesus often does the unexpected and what the World expects glory to be is not what glory is in Christ Jesus. What the World expects of glory certainly isn't what glory is for you in Christ Jesus.
This Jesus who they were crucifying was indeed the King of the Jews and ultimately Jesus was not just their king, Jesus was, and is, and ever shall be the King of kings and LORD of lords. John in the book of Revelation says that those words "King of kings and LORD of lords" are written on His clothing and on His skin and St. Matthew Records how Jesus said at His Ascension into heaven, 40 days following His Resurrection that first Easter morning, that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me." Yes, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ Jesus, the King of kings and LORD of lords.
At a royal coronation great care is given to how and in what way the new King or Queen will be given honour, the salutes and the words said by the people gathered there, the military the government officials and yet at the cross St. Luke records how the cheif priests, and "the soldiers [who were crucifying Jesus] also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine [essentially vinegar while] saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” No honour was given by the soldiers as the King of kings and LORD of lords hung dying upon the cross. In fact one of the two Criminals hung there with Jesus likewise said, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” One of the meanings of the word Christ is "The Anointed One," and when a King or Queen has their coronation they are anointed. So this man, this criminal likewise say, “Are You not the [Anointed One]? Save Yourself and us!” But what about the other criminal? What does the other criminal say? The other man who hung there with Jesus? Does he ask for the same as the first one? No. He brings a different petition to Christ the King, He says, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
In our hymnal there is a hymn called, "Come, My Soul, with Every Care" In it we sing, "Come, my soul, with ev’ry care, Jesus loves to answer prayer; He Himself has bid thee pray, Therefore will not turn away." And in the second verse we sing, "Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For His grace and pow’r are such, None can ever ask too much." These two men, these two criminals, these two sinners, hanging there with Jesus both bring large petition to the King of the Jews. But these two petitions are very different. Do you find yourself in either of these two men? Do you find yourself in their petitions?
Maybe you today have a situation, a trouble, a suffering that you are experiencing and even if it isn't on your lips, maybe it's in your thoughts, the plea "Save me!" Save me right now! Make this all go away! Jesus come down off that cross, take me down off of mine and let's get out of here, let's just go and get something to eat and have drink or something, LET'S JUST GO! Can't this suffering, this death, this torment just end, and end right now. Do I have to go through it? “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Maybe your prayer is simply a petition for relief from suffering ... maybe not even for yourself, maybe it is for the relief of the suffering of another, relief from future suffering. Consider this: Just after celebrating, what we call the Lord's Supper, Jesus went with His disciples to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives and with sweat like great drops of blood, face down in the dirt, He prayed to His heavenly Father saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” He had had the cup of wine with His disciples, what lay ahead was the sour wine, the vinegar of the cross. The answer Jesus received when He prayed, "let this cup pass from Me" was no, You must drink it. To serve His Heavenly Father's Will Jesus could not answer the petition of the one Criminal when in desperation he asks, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Could Jesus have answered this petition? Could He have come down off of the cross? Walked out of the middle of His coronation, set aside His crown of thorns and walked out of there with this man. Yes, I suppose Jesus could have but where would that leave you and me and all people? To save one for a couple years Jesus would have to condemn the World. Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean that you should do a thing. What does the book of Hebrews say, "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." For the sake of this man's sins, for yours, for mine Jesus endured the cross and did not walk away from it. As He drank the cup of suffering at the cross Jesus was perfectly patient as death approached, His trust was secure. When we are not perfectly patient in our suffering remember you have a King who faced this flawlessly and in Him is your forgiveness.
What about the other prayer, the other petition? “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” The other criminal, recognizing his guilt and the consequences of it, turns to Christ Jesus and shows patience and trust. From his words you can see that he has heard of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached throughout His public ministry, and believing that this kingdom really was coming, and that however dark that day of death had become on Golgotha, the place of the skull, with the three of them crucified their together, a new day was going to dawn and that promised kingdom was indeed coming. Near the very beginning of Jesus' public ministry the people of Capernaum, a city of Galilee where Jesus had healed St. Peter's Mother-in-law, had come to Him in a desolate place outside of their town seeking to have Jesus stay with them, to which Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And in Mark's Gospel, St. Mark records how, "Jesus [had come] into Galilee, proclaiming the [good news] of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”" When this repentant man hanging next to Jesus says, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” he, although a criminal, is still one who has heard and believed, an in his suffering he places his trust in Jesus. The first man is so caught up in this present suffering that he can't see the coming joy that was set before him, while the other man looks past their suffering to the promises made by Christ Jesus. And what does Jesus say to the man who prays, "remember me when You come into Your kingdom," Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Our epistle reading says that Jesus, "is the image of the invisible God, ... all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." This is the King who hangs upon the cross, and as unlikely as it might seem to be, even there at the cross in suffering and death, "in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him," God reconciled to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through Jesus at the cross peace was made by the blood of His cross. So again the question: Why this reading today? This is Good Friday stuff! Why is the Gospel from an account of Jesus' crucifixion? The Christmas Trees are going up. Think about what the angle Gabriel says to the Virgin Mary when He came to announce to her that she would be the mother of our Lord, He said, "“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
To Joseph, Mary's husband to be, "an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Isaiah who prophesied]: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)."
When we think of Kings and Queens we think of people set apart, they are not dropping in for tea, or supper, we don't hang around with them, they are not with us like family or close friends. And yet God Himself in the Second Person of the Trinity, in the Son, in this Jesus who is, "the image of the invisible God," does live with us. He is God with us, God with you. God with you in happiness and joy, God with you in sorrow and suffering, even in death, He is with us. Your King is not sitting comfortable set apart away from you: He took on the your life your death that you might have His Eternal life. This is true glory. He is before you, ahead of you, but He is also with you.
Thinking on all of this I leave you with words from St. Paul, words that follow our epistle reading today from Colossians, where Paul writes, "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [Jesus] has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven." The Criminal who bring his large petition to the King saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” heard Jesus' Good News of the coming kingdom and believed, be therefore encouraged. At the cross Jesus has come into His kingdom, Jesus remembers you in your joy and in your suffering, He comes to you today in Holy Communion, and He will take you to Himself at your time of death and on that day you will be with Him in paradise: Today is a foretaste of the feast to come. Today your King is with you here. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 19:20-22
 Revelation 19:16
 Matthew 28:18
 Only after Jesus' death did, "the centurion [who] saw what had taken place, [praise] God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”" Luke 23:47
 Matthew 26:39
 Hebrews 12:2
 Luke 4:43
 Mark 1:14-15
 Luke 1:30-33
 Matthew 1:20-23
 Colossians 1:15-23