CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
November 19-21, 2016
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 23:35-43
“JESUS IS THE KING!
1. Even though many reject Him.
2. Even though it may not look like it.
3. Great news for those in need of mercy.
Luke 23:35-43 (NIV 1984) “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar 37and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there blasphemed Him: “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
We’ve come to the last Sunday of the church year, the last Sunday of what’s called End Times. It’s fitting that the words of God we focus on today direct our attention to what comes last and will last. Jesus is the King. When He comes at the end of the world He will be recognized by all as the king. Every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. That is how it will be because Jesus is the King. But that’s not how it is now. Nor is it the way it has been, is it? Today we go to a portion of God’s Word that is often read during the season of Lent that help us to keep believing, keep rejoicing in and keep trusting Christ the King.
He is king even though many reject Him. Now rejecting something good and valuable is not uncommon or unique. Any of you who have watched the Antique Road show know that they regularly ask people where they got their prize. Many buy them at garage sales for a few dollars and are delighted to find out their find is worth thousands. Just consider these whoppers: In 1999, a Wisconsin man paid only $29 for a painting by Martin Johnson Heade that gave him an $882,500 payout. Teri Horton, a truck driver, bought a painting for only $5 that she claimed was “ugly” that she was going to use for a dartboard. The painting turned out to be by famed abstract painter Jackson Pollock. She has been offered $9 million. But this could be the biggest. A man paid $45 for a collection of negative photographs. The photographs are said to be by Ansel Adams and if they really are they could be worth up to $200 million dollars. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.
Sounds odd to apply that to Jesus but that’s how many treat Him. As trash. “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar 37and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there blasphemed Him: “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Many people were there when Jesus was crucified. The people of Jerusalem, the religious rulers of the Jewish people, the soldiers whose job it was to carry out the crucifixion. The criminals who were also being crucified. What was the most common reaction to Jesus? He was rejected. It didn’t make any difference that the sign was partially right. Jesus is the king of the Jews and everyone else. They still rejected Him. He was trash. Not worth anymore to them than cruel entertainment as an object of mockery. But even though they rejected Him Jesus is still King.
Let’s flash forward to today. How do many view Jesus? Some at least call Him a good teacher. Some wonder if there was a real Jesus. Some kind of make up their own Jesus taking all the loving parts but ignoring the parts where Jesus talks very plainly about the reality of Hell. But viewing Him as the King of kings? Not many see Him that way or treat Him that way. He is rejected. But just like selling a Jackson Pollock painting for $5 does not make it only worth $5 but rather exposes the foolishness and ignorance of the seller the fact that Jesus is rejected by many as King does not change the fact that He is the King. For He is!
Even though it may not look like it. What do you think a king should do? Clearly the people gathered around Jesus at His crucifixion had in their minds what a king should do. “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Did you pick it out? What a king should do, what Jesus should do to prove He was king was save Himself. That’s what people in power do. They think of themselves. If Jesus were a king he would come down from that cross. But Jesus didn’t do that. It didn’t look like He was in charge.
But Jesus didn’t come down because He is the real King. He thinks of the good of others first. He stayed on the cross because the King had come to give His life to atone for the sins of all people, even those who mocked him here. Even those who are clueless about what Jesus, the Messiah, the Chosen one, the King was sent to do.
Remember that the next time you are tempted to ask Jesus to come down and prove He is king to you. Oh, we don’t do that blatantly but subtly in our complaining. How long will you let those people get away with it? Come down and take care of it! Why don’t you help me the way I think is best? If you love me you will do as I ask. Jesus is the King even though it may not look like it or his actions and decisions for our world don’t seem to be right in our eyes. Jesus is the King and He does not owe us explanation for why he lets terrorists get away for a short time with their evil or lets Christians be martyred. He is the King and is ruling for our good even when it doesn’t look like it.
Jesus is the King and this is Great News for those in need of mercy. One person at the crucifixion is different from the others. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” We aren’t told how or when the Holy Spirit worked in this man’s heart. He was a criminal and to have earned crucifixion he was not a nice or first time criminal. Perhaps his stay in jail or his impending death caused him to remember what he had learned in Sabbath school about the Messiah. This man knew who he was, a criminal who deserved punishment. He knew who Jesus was, the King. And he asked for mercy. “Jesus, remember me.” And he got it. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” You see that’s what the full revelation of Jesus’ kingdom is, it’s paradise and in the famous words of Handel’s Messiah, “And he shall reign forever and ever.” What great news for that criminal.
And what great news for other criminals. That man next to Jesus on the bench may not look like a criminal, but he is. Look around you. You are probably not sitting near any murderers or bank robbers, maybe a speeder or two. But you are surrounded by criminals and are one yourself. So am I. Criminals do crimes. A crime is breaking of the law. And we have all broken God’s laws many times. Have you sassed your parents? Do you make them threaten you before you obey? You are breaking God’s laws. You are a criminal. Are we really putting God first? Do we really care just as much about the other guy as we do ourselves? Are other people’s children just as important to us as are own? We’ve broken the law. That makes us criminals. We deserve whatever punishment we get. But because Jesus is the King we don’t get what we deserved. He stayed on the cross. He took our punishment. We get mercy and the day is coming for each one of us that He will say, “Today is your day. Welcome to Paradise!” So says the King. Amen.