The Solemnity of Christ the King
And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him,
"He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!"
And [the other criminal] said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
What kind of King is this, hanging on a cross between two criminals? What kind of King is disrobed, whipped, crowned with piercing thorns, nailed through his flesh to a cross to writhe in pain? What kind of King is helplessly scoffed at? A defeated King? Certainly, a King who is stripped of all riches and honors.
The eyes of faith behold our King. As 2 Samuel suggests, this is the one who is our shepherd. As Colossians suggests, this is the one through whom God delivers us from the domain of darkness into a Kingdom of Light.
Today we celebrate the victory of our God over sin and death. Jesus doesn't just shepherd us by giving us some clever sayings or wisdom to live by. This shepherd leads us into and through the most troubling and fearful part of our lives - death itself. Along the way, there is no darkness, no rejection, no pain, no stripping that he has not first prepared a way through for us.
The believing criminal, similarly nailed to the finality of death, appeals to the King at his side. With Jesus in the surrender of his humiliation and dying, the criminal asks to be with him in his exodus to glory. Being broken as Jesus is, the criminal asks to be transformed as Jesus will be. Having tasted the reign of darkness to its completion, the criminal humbly begs to be with Jesus in the reign of God.
Today, in the face of all that you and I cope with now and fear we will have to cope with in the future, we have a King indeed. Can we let Jesus calm our fears today? He reigns where we feel out of control. He has won a victory in all the places that toss our hearts around. And whenever we find ourselves threatened and stripped and naked, we can turn to Jesus and say, "I sense now that you are with me in this, and I trust that on this path is the fullness of life."
For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are Yours,
now and forever
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