Rev Julie Wagstaff
Sunday 22nd November
Christ the King (John
Lord, help us to
hear the call of Christ the King and to follow in his service.
The Feast of
Christ the King – not Christ the Good Shepherd, not Christ the Lamb of God, not
the Messiah, Saviour, Redeemer, Son of God – but Christ the King.
describes this king in the book of Revelation -
His head and his hair were white
as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his
feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like
the sound of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars,
and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun
shining with full force.
a sight which made the disciple, - the one whom Jesus loved remember, fall at
his feet as though dead...... such was the impact of his appearance......Jesus,
who John had known so well.
our reading from Daniel tells us ‘To him
was given dominion and glory and kingship that all peoples, nations, and
languages should serve him. And what
is more, ‘His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away and
his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed’.
He was, and is and always will be.
if we still have any doubts, in chapter 11 of the Revelation we are told:
the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven,
saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his
Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now has
come the salvation and the power and
the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah”’
Not exactly gentle
Jesus meek and mild is it, this awesome, all powerful King.
But then we come to our Gospel
reading.........and if you had happened to arrive late and come in to hear this
reading, you could have been forgiven for thinking you’d lost a couple of months
somewhere and walked into a service in Holy Week.
Jesus is standing before Pilate,
being interrogated by the one who would ultimately send him to his
death.....what’s that got to do with Christ the King?
It has everything to do with it.
know that the world’s idea of kingship
– the power to dominate and subjugate people – to rule over them, to have them
be subservient – is the opposite of God’s purpose and intention for his
creation. We do
But do we
really understand what it means?
We live in a world where it is easy to recognize Pilate’s power.
Sadly it is all too recognizable.
Two millennia later, with Christianity the world’s biggest religion,
claiming over 2 billion followers and yet the nature of God’s kingdom is still
not recognized as being the only true way.
Jesus told Pilate ‘I am king
because I was born for the purpose; I came into the world to bear witness to the
Pilate asked him ‘what is
truth.........?’ but he didn’t wait around for an answer.
Well God is Truth, all truth,
truth throughout the universe. God is Reality. Revelation
calls it ‘the Alpha and Omega, who was and is and is to come’.
So, if the actual reality of the world, from its creation to its end, is
like Jesus, then, as Jane Williams puts it, this strange human obsession with
power is an aberration.
It is by bearing witness to the truth – to God - that Jesus deals the
death blow to the power of hell.
George MacDonald describes the one principle of hell as being:
‘I am my own’. My own glory is, and ought to be, my chief care; my right
is – what I desire.
The less I
acknowledge debt or obligation to another; the more I close my eyes to the fact
that I did not make myself.
Jesus, the king, utterly refutes these principles.
is as if he said to Pilate: - 'I ought to know what I’m talking about, because I
have been, from all eternity, the son of him from whom
you are created.
I know all that he thinks and all that he is; and I tell you this - that
my perfect freedom rests on the fact that I have no other will than his.
for his will is right. He is righteousness itself. His very being is love
......... and he insists that his children be as he is himself - creatures of
love, of fairness, of devotion to him and to their fellows.
truth is God; the witness to the truth is Jesus.
All well-being lies in a true relation to God.
question Pilate and all human beings should be asking is 'How am I to be a true
person?’ The Lord is a king because
his life, the life of his thoughts, of his imagination, of his will, of every
smallest action, is true - true first to God in that he is altogether his, true
to himself in that he forgets himself altogether, and true to his fellows in
that he endured anything they did to him, always declaring himself to be the son
and messenger and likeness of God.
They will kill him, but the truth remains - just as he says!
challenge to Pilate’s type of power is too slow for many people.
They want to use worldly power to force victory for God – but this type
of power has no ability to create, to redeem, to rectify – it simple destroys,
Jesus is the truth, then any other way is falsehood, and will fail - as history
can attest to – the terrible, terrible things that have been committed in his
name – actually against fellow Christians – burning people alive, disembowelling
them because they each claimed that their way was the true way.
But, in fact, the truth wasn’t in them they weren’t following the
kingship of the Jesus they claimed to follow but the kingship of Pilate, worldly
it were only all in the past!
Christians today might not be burning each other at the stake
but many are still being vicious to one another arguing and insisting that they
are right, that their way is the only way and in doing so, not only hurting each
other but creating great stumbling stones and putting up barriers that prevent
others recognising God. Recognising
the God who is love because in his place they portray a God made in their own
is the only true way because God is truth.
Jesus is witness to that truth and we must follow his way.
The way that led to the cross, rather than vengeance, the cross rather
than triumphing over his accusers.
It is ultimately the only way to enjoy his victory.
Christ the King is to reign in our lives then we must – as George Macdonald said
– be as he is himself. We must be
people of truth, of love who are mindful of others and careless of ourselves.
The Lord's is a kingdom in which nobody seeks to be above another.
We won’t always be kept from
suffering or facing awful times but we can be confident that no awful times, no
matter how bad, can ultimately triumph over God’s truth, God’s reality, God’s
power to save us and give us new life.
is King! He sits alongside the
Father and has been given dominion over all creation.
At the final resurrection he will be judge of all........
blessed we are that he is the Good Shepherd, our Saviour, our Redeemer – that he