Going Deeper 11-25-19

From our second reading, Paul’s letter to the Colossians, these words: He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him...  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.  Thus far our text.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
There is a significant amount of mystery which remains in terms of our comprehending just how awesome our God is.  As a matter of fact, it is important for us who have grown up in this so-called “age of reasoning” to recapture more of a sense of mystery.  As I like to say, our seeking to comprehend God is similar to an ant trying to comprehend the whole of the Rocky Mountains.
Jesus takes most—but certainly not all—of the mystery out of knowing God.  “He is the image of the invisible God...  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”  Almost everything we need to know about God is revealed in Jesus, and it is through Him that we see that God is love.  
What an interesting Gospel reading for Christ the King Sunday!  If we didn’t know better, it would make sense to reach the logical conclusion that this didn’t seem to be much of a picture of royalty. “When they came to the place that is called the Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals.” Yes, if we didn’t know better, we’d say that Jesus did not look like much of a king.  
He was wearing a crown… of sorts.  A crown of thorns had been forcibly set upon (set into, really) the head of this passive king.  No fighting to defend himself, and-- with the exception of one heart-broken and heart-breaking expression of abandonment by his father-- no crying out against the injustice of it all.  What an odd kind of king! 
One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus joined the crowds in mocking and deriding him. "Are you not the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!"   Really!  If this Jesus is truly a king, isn’t it about time for him to do something kingly.  
It is about time. We soon hear of what made this particular King particularly unusual.  When the other criminal went against the flow, he not only recognized that Jesus was suffering unjustly, he also recognized that Jesus was indeed a King, and he made a request of the King: “When you come into your kingdom… remember me.”   Done!  
That’s all it took.  Jesus took upon himself what the criminal deserved, what we deserve, and granted to him, and to all who believe, forgiveness and life eternal. All he had to do is look to King Jesus and he was granted a place in His eternal kingdom.  A different kind of King indeed!
And it was about time.  It was about time for the King of kings to announce his victory over the most notorious and lethal enemies of all… sin, death, and the devil.  He announced his victory with three simple words: “It is finished!”  Mission accomplished.  
Christ the King.  Christ is King.  He is a King who served, who sacrificed, who saved the world by laying down his life. Now, it’s about time for us to give our full attention to what it means for us to proclaim that Jesus is our King.  For us to proclaim that Jesus is our King, is to commit ourselves to following him.  Jesus gave his life for us, now we do our best to return the favor.
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul wrote: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”  What does that look like?  It looks like Jesus!  To be a disciple is to be dedicated to becoming more and more like our teacher.  For us, our gratitude-based desire is to be like Christ, which means, as Philippians points out, that we are to become the kind of people who, empowered by the Spirit of Jesus, “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than ourselves… who look not to our own interests, but to the interests of others.”
That’s the mind of Christ.  We really should not be shocked that Jesus demonstrated such an odd kind of kingship upon the cross.  After all, consider what this Messiah/King did the evening before, when he took upon himself one of the dirtiest, most disgusting tasks of His time… He took a basin and a towel, got down on His knees, and He washed the feet of His disciples.  Once again: what a odd kind of King?
Ah, yes, a different kind of King for sure.  And a King who came to establish a different kind of Kingdom, one comprised of exceedingly grateful people who are seeking to emulate the King who they love so much, a King who loved and loves them with a nearly incomprehensible kind of love.  A King willing to wash feet, a King willing to lay down His very life, to suffer incredibly and to die a most miserable and humiliating death.  What a King!
And now this King comes to us, having cleansed and healed us with His grace, and He bids us follow Him, bids us to follow His example of sacrificial love and service.  Our King has given us a new commandment: to love as He has loved.  We are called to have the mind of Christ, the mindset of servanthood.  And with the calling comes his promise: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
As I do every year on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, I had an extraordinarily blessed day this past week.  It began with watching kids at our local schools get out of their cars that morning loaded down with turkeys and others gifts of food.  Child after child, family after family, demonstrating generosity, all with big smiles on their faces.  They were experiencing the truth that it is truly better to give than to receive.  
Later I jumped in with dozens of other volunteers, all with big smiles on our faces, experiencing that same truth. As I watched somewhere around 100 families receiving boxes full of food, along with those donated turkeys and all of the necessary fixings, I had to fight back the tears.  That is what it is all about.  That is the joyful duty of God’s children, to love in action.  Jesus said,“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  Yep!  To care of those whose lives have been impacted by tragedy and sickness, those who are physically disabled, and seniors who simply do not have enough financial resource, as well as others whose lives have somewhere along the line gotten off course—perhaps by fault of their own, but perhaps not—that’s a very important part of our calling.
We are here to receive from our King, blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace.  We are here to be touched by His love.  We are here to be blessed to be blessings, to share the abundant grace we have received, and to love as we have been loved.  “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  Amen.