Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from the King of Kings, Christ, our dear Lord. Brothers and sisters in Christ,
the text for this morning comes from that Gospel reading.
While trying to mind my own business, I heard a young
captain discuss about the horrendous nature of the culture of Islam, about how
they treat their women, and about horrible things they do to one another, and
how the United States of America was a far greater place. Not to disagree with
the horrendous acts, but to keep things in perspective, I said to him,
"And yet our country, the one about which we boast, has for over 36 years
given the nod of approval, as a government, to the mutilation and murder of
unborn children." Which culture really is the more grotesque and
horrendous? One that openly does it to those outside the womb, or the other?
There is not a perfect nation under the sun, and there never
has been a perfect nation under the sun, but man has continually attempted to
merge all things of God and of this world into a utopian society, and each time
it has been tried, it has been shown to be full of hypocrisy and full of saying
one thing and doing another.
And yet, our Old Testament reading says very clearly that
Christ is the King of all, that He reigns from the right hand of God the Father
Almighty, that nothing can be raised up or put down in this world over the
course of the history of this world without Him the King allowing it, and that
raises a lot of paradoxical questions.
If Christ is benevolent, loving, merciful, and gracious, and
He is the King of all, and nothing can be raised up or brought down without
Him, why then does He allow such things to occur in this world? Even at the
height of Israel's great time, the wisest king in the world, Solomon, was not
as pure as the driven snow either, and neither was the nation.
Injustices have been done to us, and we have perpetrated
them upon others, all for the sake of justice. We say we're giving a woman a
right over her own body; that's “justice”. They say we're allowing the religion
to be “purified” by exterminating these people. And what does our Lord say? Our
Lord says, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it was of this world, they
would have fought to prevent Me from being taken by the Jews, but now, as I say
to you, My kingdom is not of this world."
And so, the mistaken notion that has been perpetuated
through time, that there will be this utopian society of a thousand-year reign
of Christ, the millennium, where He will reign from the city of Jerusalem, is
truly a false teaching, and is not in line with Scripture, for God's kingdom is
not seen in this world, and will never be seen in this world in a manner that’s
recognizable to an unbeliever.
His kingdom reigns, and His kingdom moves forward
imperceptible to this world's eyes, and His kingdom has come unto you. You have
been ushered into this kingdom upon your baptism. You have been made a member
of this kingdom. You have hearkened unto the voice of the Shepherd who speaks
truth to you, and your spirit resonates with the Holy Spirit because of that
Holy Spirit, and says "Yeah and Amen" to such truth.
But it sure doesn't look like it, and it will never look
like it in this world. Look at your family, look at my family. None of us are
without an embarrassing thing, whatever it may be. None of us are devoid of
having made wrong decisions and living with consequences of such decisions.
None of us are without sin being perpetuated upon us and us sinning upon
another, all for the sake of justice and an appearance of worldly
Break the notion, brothers and sisters, for this world
offers you and me nothing. And our Lord knows this world is dead and dying and
shall be nothing. We are continually drawn into the vortex of the hypocrisy
that says there is a need to keep one foot in this world and one foot in
heaven. "My kingdom is not of this world."
That’s why Pilate got into the conversation with Jesus.
"So you're a king?" His idea, his concept of king, as one who has
truly drank deep at the cup of this worldly wisdom, says to himself and to all,
"Then if you are a king, let us figure out how to solve this problem. For I
perceive you…" this is Pilate talking…"that you are not worthy of
death. You're a radical. You're a complete left- or right-wing, however you
wish to be described. You are a half a bubble off, but you are not worthy of
death. So, let's discuss this."
Jesus does not discuss it because it is not a matter up for
discussion. It is His destiny to die. It is the only time the Father has willed
death. Did you hear that? It is the only time the Father has willed death. Not
yours, mind you, never yours. His Son's for your sake. And He obediently says,
"Amen, Father," and walks that way to the Cross to usher in His
kingdom to you.
The world listens to this tripe…from the world's
perspective…the world listens to this tripe and says, "This is
radical," or "This is left or right," or, "This is
completely a half a bubble off." And that is what you're fed every time
you leave here, for the voice of the Shepherd is not in this world; it is here.
The truth that brings comfort and peace on your dying day is not out there;
it's here. It's being given to you, laid upon your ears, fed to you where the
voice of the Shepherd says, "This is truth." Let it not be taken from
"For this purpose I was born, for this purpose I have
come into the world…" and that is? "…to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice." That’s why you're here.
By God's grace, your ears have been made to be hearing. Your eyes to be seeing.
You have been brought by the One who has brought such healing to you, and you
come here to hear such truth, to be built up, to be strengthened, for you know
not when that day or hour shall come when He says, "Today is your day to
be with Me in glory."
For Bernie, it was yesterday. We know not when it will come for
you or me. We wait for that coming day when Christ will finally set free this
world that is dead and dying, and all of the creatures who have been waiting
for that day, who are alive on that day. But until then, we pray, "Come,
Lord Jesus, come. Free us. Take us home. There is only truth in You." This
world offers nothing but a very bitter end. There is no kingdom to be found of
joy and nirvana and utopia. It is not! It is here where the voice of the
Shepherd speaks truth and says as you and I wait, "Here is where you will
find such solace in your waiting."
Next Sunday, we step into the season of Advent, which is our
preparation for the celebration of Christ's first coming, when Truth became
incarnate, and the voice of the Shepherd was heard with living ears from the
Shepherd's own lips. But while we celebrate His first coming, we are always
aware that He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. And
His coming may be met with our being alive on that day, and His coming may be
met with us being alone in our meeting Him that day.
You have heard the voice of your Shepherd, and you are here
to continually hear such a voice that speaks truth. His hand is one that holds
you close and does not let go of you. He takes your doubts and embraces them
with His truth. He takes your concerns and fears and completely covers them
with His truth. He bathes you in such truth!
He takes the sins perpetuated upon you and the injustices that
you have endured and have given to others, and frees you of the guilt, and
cleanses you as white as snow with that truth from His lips. And He feeds you
such things at that rail that only He can feed you. Truth you can touch, taste,
and see; and truth that has and will ever set you free. In His name, the King
of Kings, your King and mine, Jesus, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life eternal, Amen.