The Feast of Christ the King, 2015

 

The Epistle. Colossians 1:12-20

The Gospel. John 18:33-37

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

 

Though a relatively new Feast on the Church calendar (1925) compared to those who we commemorate from the first century and shortly after, the Feast of Christ the King is such an important day for us because it gives us two lessons that contain vital information about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

The Gospel lesson comes from John 18:33-37.

 

Jesus before Pilate.  Hours before His death, Jesus stands before the Governor.  A reluctant Governor indeed.  He sees no reason to put this man to death.  He ends up publicly washing his hands proclaiming his innocence to this man’s blood….

…though still handing Jesus over to be executed.

 

Matthew writes: “….while he [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”

(Matthew 27:19 ESV)

 

The dialogue:

Pilate: Are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus: Do you say this of your own accord or did others say it to you about me?

Pilate: Am I a Jew?  Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me.  What have you done?

Jesus: My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would be been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world.

Pilate: So you are a king?

Jesus: You say that I am a king.  For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

Pilate:  What its truth?

What is truth?  The word is found in the bible about 225 times or so. 

 

Jesus says, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Jesus praying for His followers:  “Father, sanctify them in the truth.  Your word is truth.”

 

Paul tells us that those who oppose Christ suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

People exchange the truth for a lie.

 

He says love:  “…does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

(1 Corinthians 13:6 ESV)

      

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

(Ephesians 4:25 ESV)

 

Maybe most importantly, Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life.

 

Pilate was standing in front of …face to face with the truth.  The One who is truth.  The One who defines truth.  But does not see it.

 

So, here is the truth: Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone is the Truth.  No other gods….no other men…no other Words…no other standards…no other faith.

 

Paul says in this morning’s section from his letter to the Colossians that we give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

 

We have been qualified to share in the inheritance.

 

We know that the Scriptures in numerous places state that we are by nature children of wrath and exiles from His Kingdom.

 

We don't like to hear things like this.  But if the words seem to bring discomfort to you, then they are working in you to bring you to a place where you desire to no longer have that designation.

 

Or if you are a Christian…these words are to bring you to a place where thanksgiving and praise is given to God on a daily basis…knowing that through baptism you are no longer a child of wrath and you are now an inheritor of God’s Kingdom.

 

But it is God who has qualified us to enter. 

It is God’s adoption alone that makes us qualified to share in the inheritance with all of God’s saints.

 

God has delivered us from the domain of darkness.

God has transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus Christ, in whom we have redemption.

 

Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life….is our redeemer and the only reason we are members of God’s Kingdom is because we dwell in Him and He in us.

 

So who is this Redeemer?  Who is this living incarnate truth we worship?

 

Paul’s explanation this morning gives us some of the most clear and concise theology on Christ. He almost provides us with a Creed of sorts.

 

He begins: Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

 

Christ being the image of the invisible God tells us that if you see Him, you see God.  In fact it says more than that.  It says that He is God.

 

God, who is otherwise invisible to us, is manifested…is revealed to us in Christ. 

 

John writes: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18 ESV) Jesus Christ, has made God known to man by becoming man…being visible to us.

 

Later in John, Jesus says, “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.”

(John 6:45-46 ESV)

 

God in His naked majesty is invisible, and not only to the eyes, but also to the understanding. He is made known to us and is revealed to us in Christ alone.

 

This is why Christians (orthodox Christians) emphasize Christ so much rather than just using the term God….though there is nothing wrong in saying God.  But Christ has such specificity. 

 

It is He and only He who can show us or reveal to us who God is.  If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.

 

And being the “firstborn of all creation” simply means that He is the preeminent one.  It is not because He is created before all other creatures as the Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly assert.

 

But it means more that He is the substance….the foundation of all things.  To be the firstborn of all creation tells us not what He is in himself, but what He accomplishes in others….in us.

Paul goes on:  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

Self-explanatory.  He is the Creator.  All things come from Him.  Visible and invisible. The world.  The heavens.  The universe.  And He holds all things together.

 

He can leave His eternal position at the right hand of the Father in heaven, come to earth, be born of a young virgin girl, grow up, work miracles, be crucified, die and rise again from the dead and at the same time….He holds the entire universe together.

 

Then we read: “..He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

 

Christ, being the head of the body….the head of the Church establishes Him as its source. 

Just as a human body has a head and from it…from the mind of the person, all other actions take place….Christ being the head of the Church is the source from which we all derive our life.  The life of the Church flows out from Christ who is its head. 

 

Furthermore, Christ is the head of the Church in the fact that He governs it.  The head of state governs the state.  Christ governs the Church.  He has the sole authority to govern it….and it is to Christ that we are to look to for governance.

 

As the leader is to be the unifier and is to be the seat of unity or the symbol of unity in a state or a nation, Christ is the head of the Church and all of us as members look to Him to lead us and govern us.

 

Paul goes on to say: “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.”

 

In this description, Christ as we have already seen is the beginning.  He is the creator and therefore the beginning of all things.

 

And yet, He is said here to be the firstborn from the dead.

 

So He is also the beginning in another way. He is the beginning because He is the firstborn from the dead. 

 

In the resurrection, there is restoration of all things. And in the resurrection, there is therefore, the commencement of a new creation…a new birth. 

 

In Adam, all things had been subjected to sin and decay.  In Christ, the Second Adam, rising from the dead after three days, brings with Him the commencement of the Kingdom of God.

 

He is the beginning of something new and different when it comes to death than ever before.  As He is called the firstborn from the dead, it is not merely, then, because He was the first to rise from the dead, but because He has also restored life to all men.

 

 

 

 

And finally, but not lastly….for the passage goes on… Paul says about Christ, “…in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

 

Here is the Good News of the Gospel for us.  Though already established, Paul reiterates the eternal nature of Christ.  He says again that in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”…calling Him God.

 

In other words, God is in Christ.  Christ is in God.  The fullness of what God is, is displayed to us in Christ.

 

And because Christ is God, all things that are in some way damaged and fallen through Adam, are being renewed and reconciled to God.

 

No more are we aliens and strangers.

No more are we children of wrath and exiles from the Kingdom.

In Christ, we have been brought near, reconciled and restored because He has made peace with God for us by the blood of his cross.

 

Through Christ we have peace with God.

 

That is the Gospel that we are to share with the world.

 

The world does not think or does not know…or hates to be told that it is alienated from God.  It does not appreciate being told and many times flatly rejects the notion that it is not in a right relationship with God.  Many people, by thinking they do good things are in God’s favor and at peace with God.

 

They are not. 

 

Only in Christ can anyone be in God’s favor.  If we are in Christ, and only if we are in Christ, are we reconciled to God.  We cannot be reconciled through any other means than through the blood of the Cross.

 

Christ’s blood poured out on the Cross is the pledge and price of the making up of our peace with God. [1]

 

This is why we refer to Christ as King.  He has more said about Him and more divine attributes than any earthly king. 

 

And as King, none of the things said here this morning could be attributed to anyone else.  “No portion of this praise may be transferred to any other.” [2]

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.



[1] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 149–155). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 149–155). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.