I preached this sermon at my two-point charge this Sunday. I started with a story to help illustrate the kind of king we serve. Writing the story was the hardest part this time, I think.
The king was old and had lived a life full of adventures. His grandson came to his room early in the evening after his supper, as was his custom, and asked for a story from his adventures.
Tell me a story, grandfather. (as he climbed up into his lap)
What kind of story? (he asked, as he wrapped his arms around the grandson he loved so much)
A story of adventure.
What kind of adventure? I have had many adventures, and you have heard about many of them.
I want a story that I haven’t heard before. A story of a strange place. A story with strange people.
Oh, so you don’t want the story from the time I hunted three lions and a ferocious hyena?
No, I want a story with people.
With people, hmm? What about a story with another king?
There isn’t another king, grandfather. You are the king.
Yes, grandson, I am the king here, but in my travels, I have met another king.
How far did you have to go to meet the other king?
It was a very long way, my journey was rough and treacherous. It took many days and nights to find my way to the reign of this other king.
But you found him.
Yes, I found him.
What did he look like? Did he have a house like ours? Did he have people like Elizabeth to cook for him like we do? Did he have people that came to listen to him talk, like you do?
Well, he had followers, and people that came to hear him speak, people who listened and learned from what he had to say. There is something that you have to know about this king: he was not like other kings.
What do you mean, grandfather? It sounds like he was very much like you. Did he copy you?
No, actually, I learned many things from him. He did not rule the same way that the former kings in our country ruled. He ruled with love, and compassion, and a genuine care for his people. He was a great king. As I spent more time with him I learned many things that I wanted to change when I returned home. See, he loved his people. He had actual care and compassion for them and they responded in turn with love.
Did they all love him?
No, they did not all love him, but it was because they did not understand what he was doing or how he loved them. They were so afraid of him because they did not understand him that they turned away from him. But even though they had turned away, he continued to love them. And he continued to act through that love.
Did they ever love him back?
Some of them did, but some of them never became comfortable with how their king treated them as one of his children.
Couldn’t he make them respect him and like him anyway?
Well, he could have forced them to reverence him and follow his words, but the king did not want that. His love was such that it could not be forced to reciprocate.
But didn’t that hurt his feelings? Didn’t he feel left out because he was not loved by all his people?
It did hurt. But he knew that everybody would not love him back the same way that he loved them.
But he loved them anyway?
He loved them anyway.
Did the other king love you? You were not from his kingdom. Didn’t he have to protect his kingdom from you?
This king was not worried about me taking over his kingdom. Our kingdoms were too different. The reason I went to his kingdom was not to overthrow him or destroy his kingdom, but to learn from the king. I had heard about him, and I wanted to see if what I had been hearing was true. I was welcomed into the king’s house and treated as his own while I was there. He was a truly great king.
How long did you stay? What did you do when you came back?
I stayed long enough to see how he loved his people, and that it was not a superficial love, no, instead it was a deep seated, intentional love. When I returned home to my kingdom, I began to see what I wanted to do now that I had learned how is was possible to care for my people as children, rather than servants.
And did they love you more?
Some did. Some grew to trust that when I returned I had actually changed. And some still do not understand that I can love them even though we disagree.
And you love me, right?
Yes, I love you. And I will continue to love you. But now it is time for you to go to bed.
Good night, grandfather
Good night, my child.
Like the grandfather in this story, we have an opportunity to learn from a great King. Our King is not one who forces us to love him. Our King gently guides us and brings us to the realization that he loves us regardless of what we do.
Today is Christ the King Sunday. As we prepare for the close of a church year and the preparation for the celebration to Christ’s birth, we are reminded of the reason that Christ did come to the world. Christ came to testify to the truth of his kingdom.
Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. Jesus answers him by asking a question back, by asking where the question came from. Pilate is inherently curious, but Jesus is not going to be answering the questions that Pilate wants answered while he is on trial. Jesus is determined to not change his practice of being twisted to the plotted schemes of the ones who want him dead. Pilate asks the “wrong” question—Christ is a king, but not king of the Jews. Even though Christ is a Jew, his kingdom is not limited to which nation he is born in, lived in, ministered in, or died in.
Jesus says he is a king. He actually says it. Well, almost. But it is not his point.
Jesus had spent his ministry telling people to not tell what he had done—but at the point when he is about to die (he knows it and it has become unavoidable) he does reveal his true identity to a gentile. This revelation is the beginning of the greater revelation of truth to the whole world.
What is Christ the king of? What is his kingdom?
As Christians, we are called to listen to his voice, and bear witness to the world for Christ. We are Christ’s holy priesthood, called to glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit as the one true God. As members of Christ’s body, we all share in this holy priesthood, and we are called to bear the message of the truth of God’s word to the world. As the whole church is called to be the witness to the truth of God, we are called to go out in to the world to share this message with the world.
We are to uphold each other in the word and to keep each other in love and service. Jesus Christ is and was the perfect example of the holy priest who keeps us and reminds us what service we need to provide. Christ has revealed God’s grace to the world in order that we can follow the truth of the Gospel.
We join the kingdom of God by taking on the responsibility of the truth. The truth of Christ is the ultimate truth.
To bear witness to the truth, we must know the truth.
To know the truth, we must be with the one who has the full truth. That truth is Christ. Christ is both the witness to the truth, and the full truth.
Only through Christ can we know the full truth.
As we live in Christ, we come to understand more fully what the truth is.
God is Truth. The Love of God is Truth. Truth is not something that humanity can figure out or prove. It is beyond us to comprehend or to figure out. We can not come to this truth by mere human reasoning.
Christ has brought the Kingdom of Truth to us. So that we can live in the Truth.
We have seen glimpses of the truth before. Through the kings and prophets of old. But they have remained merely glimpses.
The truth is that Christ is a King.
The truth is that we will join Christ in his reign.
The truth is that we have been made a holy priesthood of believers.
The psalmist calls, “Let your priests be clothed in righteousness, and your godly ones sing for joy.” (Ps 132:9.)
Christ has made us a kingdom of priests to God the father, giving glory forever.
The gift that Christ has given us in coming into this world is the grace that is required for Christ come into the world in order to testify to the truth.
Christ has come into the world to reign truth. To reign in truth. To reign as truth. To bear witness to the truth. To teach truth. To define truth. To be present as the truth of the world.
How have we tried, like Pilate, to define Jesus for our own convenience and understanding. If truth is God’s, then it is beyond our understanding. And we need to listen to Christ to receive the truth which he has spoken. Our human attempts to understand the truth, and the ways that we claim we have found the absolute truth are incredibly deceived. We cannot have the whole truth except through Christ who came to testify to the truth.
As we grown in Christ, we grow in understanding of the truth which Christ bears.
Christ is the truth for all. Christ is the only truth. We must let Christ reign in the truth if we are to be able to read or understand or hear the truth. It is our listening to Christ that is our listening to the truth.
So, as members of Christ’s church, we have been called to join as one body. We have been called to covenant with each other and to hold each other accountable to the faithful witness of the truth. We are the Body of Christ, and we are called to live as witness the truth of God’s kingdom to the world. We bear this responsibility because we cannot live any other way.
We must let Christ be our King.