Sermon on Luke 23:35-43
Last Sunday of the Church Year – Christ the King Sunday
Behold Your King
1. His attire
2. His attributes
3. His accomplishments
Text: Luke 23:35-43
Democracy is gone. Voting doesn’t exist. No one gets any say but you. Just pretend for a moment that you have divine power and control. No Republicans. No Democrats. No political ads. No campaigning. No mud-slinging. (How nice would that be!) Imagine that you have absolute control of all things and you alone get to choose your leader—the leader of the free world. Whom would you pick? What would your qualifications be?
Well you probably would want someone that is the best of the best in every way. He would be a leader who is strikingly handsome, like a Brad Pitt or a George Clooney. He would be athletic and muscular—strong like Arnold Schwarzenegger yet able to slam dunk like Michael Jordan. He would be dashing, dapper, and debonair like James Bond. He would be respected and trustworthy like Abraham Lincoln, yet feared and revered like Winston Churchill. He would be a great military leader like Napoleon. He would be a visionary like Alexander the Great.
Ah yes, if you could choose the leader of all, he wouldn’t be a sleazebag or a slime ball. He would be great. He would be majestic. He would be honorable. He would be powerful. He would be victorious. He would be the king of all.
Behold Your King. He’s not wearing Gucci shoes. He’s not wearing a $1,000 Armani power suit. He’s not dressed like Wall Street Tycoon. He’s not dressed like an ad for The Gap. He’s not even dressed like he shops at Kohl’s.
Behold Your King and his attire. His royal robes are purple cloths found lying around in some back corner of the Praetorium—the color of royalty but the intention of mockery. His royal scepter is but a wood staff. No gold leafing. No gems on the end. Only wood. And only held until it is ripped from his hands and used to bash his own skull. His crown is no royal diadem. It isn’t covered in diamonds. It will never be on display in the royal museum. It’s a handmade crown fashioned from the thorny branches of bush—not custom made for comfort but custom made for pain and blood.
Behold Your King and his attire. The faux royal garb is stripped off and his other garments stolen and divided by lot. Now laid bare, his only coverings are the black and blue bruises all over his body, the gashes from his tortured back, and the blood splattered everywhere.
Behold Your King and his attire, for he wears a covering you cannot even see. Beneath the bruised and bloodied mess he bears a myriad of wrongs. He wears your blood-curdling cursing and your private passions. He’s covered with your anger, your revenge, your hatred. He bears your guilt, your godlessness, your greed. Laid bare for all to see and nailed to a cross with a mocking notice above his head, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS,” his true attire is our sin. He is clothed with punishment. He is adorned with the flames of hell. Behold Your King and his attire.
Behold Your King. He isn’t bold and brash like the roughneck Teddy Roosevelt. He doesn’t command the spotlight and ooze excitement like Steve Jobs. He isn’t followed by his posse, he isn’t hounded by paparazzi. The world doesn’t wait on his next move. It doesn’t even respect any of his moves.
Behold Your King and his attributes. He stands silent before his accusers, like a sheep going to the slaughter. He neglects to defend himself. Meekly and mildly he absorbs the fists bashing his face and only turns the cheek for more abuse. He doesn’t even wipe the spit he’s drenched in.
Behold Your King and his attributes. Timidly he acquiesces to the wrongful death sentence. He obliges the demands to carry his own execution equipment. He refuses to squirm as his arms stretched out for nails to be driven through is hands. He doesn’t respond to the taunts—“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself . . . Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Behold Your King and his attributes. Like a willing servant he accepts the accusation and the sentence that were not his. Humbly he allows gross injustice to take place. Even a vile criminal could see the corrupt crime, “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this ma has done nothing wrong.” Indeed, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him.” He had done nothing. We have done everything. Yet he bled. He suffered. He died. Behold Your King and his attributes.
Behold Your King. He didn’t fix the economy. He didn’t bring back the value of your home. He didn’t put a Lexus in every driveway, or even bread on every table. He didn’t overthrow the Romans. He hasn’t overthrown the Muslims. He couldn’t even defeat those who didn’t like him.
Behold Your King and his accomplishments. All the bold preaching and all the brave teaching only won the ire and contempt of his own people. He never restored the kingdom. Even a murderer and adulterer like David had a bigger kingdom. Even an adulterous, greedy pig like Solomon had more power. All he won were shouts and cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Behold Your King and his accomplishments. He didn’t climb upon a throne of gold. He was nailed to a cross of wood. He didn’t live a long and accomplished life. He was executed preemptively in his 30s. He was buried under a massive mountain of sin. He was tortured with divine enmity. He experienced the God-forsaken depths of hell. Then he was actually buried—in the empty tomb of a Jewish aristocrat. Behold Your King and his accomplishments.
Behold Your King. He’s not wearing Gucci shoes. He’s not wearing a $1,000 Armani power suit. But he’s not wearing the robes of mockery either. He’s not stripped bare. He’s not drenched in blood. He’s not even wearing grave clothes.
Behold Your King and his attire. The blood has dried. The wounds have healed. The holes have been closed, leaving only scars to put your fingers in. He lives and breathes as always before and as always in the future.
Behold Your King and his attire. He is dressed in glory and in honor. He wears a crown of victory. His divine robe alone fills the holy temple of God in the new Jerusalem. He holds the scepter which he always had, yet only set aside for a time. He lifts his feet and plants them permanently on his footstool—those whom he calls his enemies.
Behold Your King and his attire. His radiant glory beams throughout the heavens giving light and life to all. He fills the earth, the seas, the heavens and all which he himself made. He is dressed in power. He is dressed in glory. He is dressed in life. He is dressed in victory. Behold Your King and his attire.
Behold Your King. He still doesn’t receive the world’s spotlight. Nor does he physically speak from the world’s soapbox. The world still does not wait on his next move, or even respect any of his moves for that matter. Yet no longer is he the humble servant who is obedient, even to death on a cross.
Behold Your King and his attributes. He is the God who is over all and through all and in all. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the God who promised that he would come, did come, and will come back.
Behold Your King and his attributes. He is the same yesterday and today and forever. His compassion is never ceasing. His mercy is never changing. His grace is never ending. His forgiveness is never failing. We may not see him. The world may deny him. He may only speak through his powerful Word. Yet he holds all. He watches all. He rules all. And he will come back to judge all. Behold Your King and his attributes.
Behold Your King. He still hasn’t fixed the economy. He still hasn’t put equity into your home. He still hasn’t put a Lexus in every driveway or even bread on every table. He still hasn’t defeated the Muslims. Yet his victories span all time and all the universe. His victories extend beyond what human eyes can see or minds can even comprehend.
Behold Your King and his accomplishments. He washed away all sins with the flood of his own blood. He erased the filth of all your wrongs. He cleansed the dirtied and the stained. He crushed the head of that slithering snake Satan. He shattered the shackles of hell. He burst forth from the grave with new life.
Behold Your King and his accomplishments. He promised salvation. He won salvation. He gives salvation. He promised life. He rose to life. He gives everlasting life. He has the power to promise, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” and to follow through. So, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Death has been swallowed up in victory. He lives that death may die. He lives that we may never die.
Behold Your King and his accomplishments. See his power which works through his holy Word. See his power which offers life and forgiveness through the washing called Baptism. See his power which offers forgiveness and strengthens faith through his holy Supper called Communion. See his power which will finally and eternally be revealed when he returns in glory so that at his name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Behold Your King and his accomplishments.
If we had to choose, we would never choose the right or perfect leader. Thankfully, the perfect King has chosen us. What a King he is! He is a King who has such great love that for a time he even gave up his authority and power. He is a King that has such great power that he could defeat Satan and destroy death and hell. He is a King that has such great glory that he fills the entire universe which he made. He is a King that has such great grace that he will take you to be with him and dwell in his kingdom.
So Lift High the Cross and Crown Him with Many Crowns and All Hail the Power of Jesus Name. Behold the King. He is your king. He is Christ the King.
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