Christ King and Lord

There was once a very proud lion who wanted to make sure that the other animals know who was indeed king of the jungle.

And so he went to see the bear who agreed, then a tiger who also agreed…

But when he approached the elephant..it immediately whirled him round,

slammed him against a tree, trampled on him..dunked him in the river a few times then

dumped him on the shore…

“Look, “ said the lion, “just cos' you don't know the answer, there's no reason for you to get mean about it.”

Today we look in our scriptures at who Christ was.

The title in our lectionaries for today is Christ the King.

At one time in the North East if you asked who the king was, you would have got a far different answer;Keegan and if you had disagreed they too would have got very mean about it. They believed in him, had faith in him, they celebrated him as kings with banners etc.,

Is it enough though to call Jesus merely a king.?What about the other titles that just roll off the tongue for him….words which we sing so automatically we hardly stop to reflect upon them…

Words such as

…King of kings, the Lord of Lords, Saviour, Redeemer,Prince of peace. The Lord our righteousness..

There are many names we use to describe Jesus,

One very important one is Emmanuel, which means GOD WITH US.

Is that what Jesus was and is? God with us?

Or do you think that is going too far?

I know there are some would suggest he was a mere man, a good man and no more than that.

But just look at how Paul and the early Christians viewed him at Colossae- this image of Jesus as king with a kingdom appears again, but then Paul continues as if to qualify his position even further…

Jesus he says..is the image of the unseen God,

A little boy was once drawing a picture of God. The teacher sadi to him, “But no-one knows what he looks like!” “Well they soon will when I'm finished drawing this picture!” said the boy.

He was the firstborn over all creation,.. Paul goes on

The creator of all things, in heaven and earth, things we can see and things we can't see.

He is before all things,He holds all things together, The head of the body, the church,

The beginning, The firstborn from among the dead, Supreme over all things.

Then here's the biggy,

God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace with his blood, shed on the cross!

These are HUGE claims penned by Paul!

Do they ring true with us.

Have we really grasped the truth behind who Jesus was, as well as being human..?

Jesus too made many claims about himself.

Examples:-

I am the bread of life

The light of the world, those who believe will never walk in darkness but have the light of life,

The resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die!

Come to me all who are weary and I heavily laden and I will give you rest!

He said to receive him was to receive God,

To welcome him was to welcome God,

To have seen him was to have seen God….

He forgave sins! And the reaction of the religious leaders was ,

"Why does this fellow talk like that?He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?

He spoke of one day returning to earth as Judge! His would be the final word!

And when confronted directly at his trial before the high priest by the words "Are you the Christ?"

He responded, I am… and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God"

At this point, they could bear it no longer, he had to go, this man had to die…

Hence the gospel story today. They condemned him to die because he blasphemed, a claim to be god brought the sentence of death.

Are these the rantings and ravings of a madman?

Was he just deluded? *

Or was Jesus exactly who he claimed to be?

Even Thomas, when Jesus appeared to him after he died, ,"My Lord and my God!"exclaimed in astonishment

How did Jesus respond? By telling him off for not believing sooner.

If we re read the gospel stories we will find evidence to support his claims.

Let us try this coming Advent to go through the bible again and read about how very wise he was, listen to his stories, meditate on their meaning even for today's world, open our eyes to the miracles he brought about and the outcasts and the disaffected people whose lives he changed and ask ourselves this question again, who do I say that he is?

In our gospel today, we even see the religious leaders hovering at his death, just to make sure that their decision to have him executed was a just one. If he really was God, they reasoned, he wouldn't allow himself to die, he would magically disappear or release himself in some wonderful flash of light, and so they were satisfied when his life blood drained away.

Let him save himself if he really is…….

Away they went, mocking him, satisfied, justified in their condemnation.

But that as we know was not the end of the story.

Even their mockery, their presence demonstrates to us that Jesus had indeed made direct claims to be God, God the Son,

yet still fully human, still able to feel pain and humiliation.

They sensed and denied his claims to kingship.

The soldiers in our gospel reading humiliated him, and challenged his kingship.

One of the criminals also crucified there joined them in mocking Jesus.

But there were those who were in awe of him,

Why else might Pontius Pilate insist that the sign saying 'This is the King of the Jews' remain where it was when the Jews protested. Why did he wash his hands of his blood?

The other thief asked to be allowed into his kingdom, he recognised his greatness.

All those whose lives he touched knew him for what he was.

So there are those who deny and resist Jesus claims

…and there are those who defend and proclaim him Lord , Saviour and King, but one thing is sure he is not a person, anyone can easily ignore.

It comes to all of us in our lifetime to respond in some way to Jesus. There's no middle way!

He either is who he claimed to be or he is not. There can be no middle road. No grey area.

A famous musician once responded to a revelation of Jesus as King of kings, and his music transformed people's lives. They found it impossible to sit as it was being played, even the King- George II stood on hearing it.

It was a chorus the composer had worked at for 24 days without a pause, taking very little food. A servant reported that each time he saw his master in his room, there were tears in his eyes as he composed.

"I did think I could see all heaven before me, and the great God himself," said the musician.

It was his greatest work.

Before composing this music, many had laughed at his efforts or had largely ignored them.

Afterwards there were those who scorned his work as sacrilegious, too different, too hastily done and they opposed it.

But there were those who even tried to beat down doors of Westminster Abbey, rioting, and trampling over each other in their efforts to hear it.

Once again the two extremes with no grey area.

The composer was Handel, his music the Hallelujah chorus.

Which extreme are you?

Who do you say that Jesus was and is?

There a sense in which we all need to come to a realisation of his majesty, his kingship, his presence here with us……. Just let us leave behind for one week the creed which we confess we can sometimes say automatically , and be caught up in Handel's Hallelujah chorus, and unfurl our banners , flags and drums in praise of his presence, here now ,

With us

Emmanuel.