Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankful for a King (Matthew 2, 21, 27; Revelation 17.14)

Sermon by: Robert Austell - November 24, 2013
Text: Matthew 2:1-6; 21:1-11; 27:27-44; Revelation 17:14
Christ the King Sunday

:: Sermon Audio (link) - manuscript not available for today; I am posting a sermon from 2008 from which today's sermon was based, so there are some of the same core ideas. But you'll need to listen to the audio for what was said in worship today.

Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell."

:: Some Music Used
Gathering Music: ""Variations on 'O Worship the King'" (Michael Burkhardt)

Hymn of Praise: "Crown Him with Many Crowns" (DIADEMATA)
Song of Praise: "Lion of Judah" (Robin Mark)

Word in Music: "Coronation" (Craig Courtney)
Offering of Music: "Only You, Lord" (David Crowder)
Hymn of Sending: "Behold Our God" (Sovereign Grace - Bairds, Altrogge)
Postlude: "Crown Him with Many Crowns (Michael Burkhardt)

:: Sermon Manuscript
As mentioned above, this manuscript is actually from 2008 and formed the basis of today's sermon, but I do not have a closer transcription of what I actually preached. You'll have to listen to the audio for that.

Today is what is called “Christ the King Sunday.”  As you may know, the Christian Church has organized the calendar year in such a way as to tell the biblical story year after year.  Some individual churches use this church calendar more than others, but almost everyone observes Christmas and Easter and the seasons leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth and resurrection.  Next Sunday we will begin Advent, and will begin looking forward to Christmas.  But today, is really the end and culmination of the church calendar because we celebrate Christ as King.  Next Sunday we start telling the story all over again.

I have chosen a number of scripture lessons today.  The call to worship described the final scene of Christ as King, victorious over the powers of evil and death.  But in another sense, the whole biblical story points towards that ending.  And so I have chosen several texts which name Christ as King, to remind us that at every point in history, and at every point in our own lives, Jesus Christ IS King of kings and Lord of Lords. That is something for which I am so thankful and it is Good News indeed!

Let’s look briefly at each of these texts.

Expected King (Matthew 2)


Matthew 2:1-6 is a familiar text, particularly as we enter into the Christmas season.  Look at that with me.  Matthew tells us that just after Jesus was born, magi (the “wise men”) from the east came to find him. 

The wise me traveled and came to the ruler of Judea, Herod the King.  They asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)  Of course, this led to trouble with Herod; but the point is that Jesus birth was no accident, nor was the arrival of this “King of the Jews.”  He was the fulfillment of God’s promises from the beginning of time.

Promised King (2 Samuel 7)


To understand that expectation, let’s back up and look at its roots. The point I want to make here is that the birth of God’s Messiah as “King” was promised ahead of time.  One approach to Jesus is to believe that he was an ordinary man (and baby) who God blessed in a special way and set apart.  But that is not the biblical story.  From the beginning of time God planned to send His Son into the world to make a way for us to be restored to relationship with God.  From the earliest parts of scripture, in the stories and promises of God’s people, and even as far as these foreign wise men, God’s promise was known.  This promise was implicit in the curse and promise in the Garden.  The promise was there in the covenant with Abraham and explicitly so in the covenant with David.  The Old Testament prophets looked forward to the King’s coming.

Sent King (Matthew 21)


From this account of the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, let’s jump to Matthew 21 to the end of Jesus’ earthly life.  This is the great Palm Sunday text, where the people welcome Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!”  When Jesus sends the disciples to find a donkey, he quotes the prophet Isaiah, “Behold your King is coming to you…” (v. 5).  And indeed, the crowds went on to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as a King and hero, shouting for him to save them.  The people were waiting for a Savior-King, and thought Jesus might just be that one who would set them free from the oppression and rule of the Roman army.

We’ve talked about Palm Sunday before – how the expectations and dreams of a Savior-King were close, but missed the reality of who Jesus was.  People were looking for a political Savior rather than a personal and spiritual Savior.  Nonetheless, this does not take away from the “sentness” of Jesus as the Savior and King promised and sent from God.

The King who Suffered (Matthew 27)


Fast forward just five days in the life of Jesus and you reach the scene in Matthew 27.  There, he is being tortured and crucified, but not before being mocked with purple robes and a crown of thorns as the “King of the Jews.”  This description, which had been with him all his life, was affixed over his head on a sign on the cross.

A while back, we made much of Jesus, the Great High Priest, who suffered and was tempted in every way as we have been, but who did not sin.  Likewise, Jesus our King, suffered and was taken captive and defeated before, as Ephesians 4 describes, he took captivity captive and released us all from our chains.  If you have never seen or read the great depiction of this scene in C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it is well worth doing!

Jesus as suffering King is another reminder of our God, who does not remain hidden and aloof in the far reaches of Heaven, but who has come all the way down to where we are to plunge into the depth of human experience and rescue us, employ us, and bring us home.

The Returning King (Revelation 17)


Finally, I want to point you to Revelation, to the verse that began our service.  It is from Revelation 17:14, which reads, “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”  Not only is Jesus the promised and sent King who has suffered with us and for us; he is also the returning King, who will come to establish God’s reign forever.  And look at that wording – “those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”  Those are all words we have used to describe what it is God saves us for.  That’s part of the whole energy behind the lighthouse/searchlight vision – that God doesn’t just save us for Heaven, but saves us for His work here on earth.  That’s what called and chosen and faithful describes – you and me engaged in the Lord’s work.  That’s what it means to be with Him! 

The King who Saves Us


Christ the King Sunday and these connected texts describing Jesus as King are a fitting last word for the Christian calendar year as well as our struggles, hurts, and fears.  We’ve talked about trouble, discouragement, and doubt – both the steps we can take to draw near to God and the ways that God promises to draw near to us. 

Hear this Good News – Jesus is God’s final Word!  Our trouble, discouragement, and doubt – even our sin and death – have not and do not take God by surprise, though they certainly can take us by surprise.  Sickness, job loss, family issues, nor anything else takes God by surprise, though those things can lay us low.  The Good News is that from the beginning of time, promised from the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed and turned from God, God has purposed to send His Son into the world to face what we face and to emerge victorious over it all with all who believe in tow. 

This is no magic wand for trouble and sorrow; but it is Good News.  God is here; God is not surprised, nor reeling defensively from the things that knock our feet out from under us.  Rather, God has acted with all the foresight, wisdom, and compassion of a Heavenly Father to send us real help in times of real trouble.

Jesus is Savior and King, and at the end of the day, as God’s called, chosen, and faithful ones, there is no better place we could be than with Him at His side.  And there is no better place to put your trust, offer your prayers, and rest your hope, than in the King who saves us.  Amen.




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