Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.” … from the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
This the last Sunday of our Church year, and it is Christ the King Sunday. We heard in the Gospel today that Jesus, the Son of Man, one day will come and sit on his throne.
The concept of a King is not well known in this country, since we rejected the notion of royalty when our country was founded. In other parts of he world, there are kings that may be royal in name only, and do not have true authority over the Kingdom. In Middle East, some countries are still ruled by a King, for example the King of Saudi Arabia, a man named Salman, and his son, the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, are the sovereigns of the nation.
The Crown Prince has been in the news lately, arresting many rich and high ranking men who he believes are corrupt, and amassing wealth for themselves. He is cleaning house.
He also reportedly wants to lead a return to a moderate Islam, and to eradicate extremism. This is good news for the peace and prosperity in the region. And perhaps good news for the millions around the world who are persecuted because of their faith.
The Kingship of Jesus is not of the earthly domain. He is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. His authority does not come from man, but from his Father.
The Kingship of Jesus begins when he sits at the right hand of the Father. In the Revelation to St John the Divine, we can read this description of Jesus:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. 13 He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.
What does it really mean for us to have a King? What does a king do for us? The ideal king provides safety and security. He amasses an army to defend us from attack. He takes care of our needs. In return, we offer him our devotion, and worship. We follow his commands, and we serve in his army, helping to defend and protect the weak, the widows, the orphans, and the lame.
And how is Jesus our King? St. Paul said, “He is the head of the body, the church;” We who are the subjects of the King are the church, the Body of Christ. We are members of his body, his hands and his feet. We are the parts of the body who go and do his will.
St. Paul said, “he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.” The firstborn from the dead refers to his resurrection. He is the first to rise from the dead so that he has the first place in everything. Jesus received his crown in heaven, a coronation more grand than any on earth, ever.
In the Gospel reading today we heard about Jesus prophesying about his return. He talks about sitting on his throne, judging and separating the righteous from the unrighteous.
Then he talks about how that will go.
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
That is a very good list about how Jesus expects us to behave. Notice in each of these instances, the righteous person has not looked to their own needs first. They have looked after the needs of those less fortunate. By this I mean, those without a fortune.
You and I have fortunes. We have homes, and plenty to eat, and we have jobs, perhaps retirement savings, to pay for all of that. Or you may still be young, and are fortunate enough to have someone who loves you and provides for your needs. We are in the minority of this world.
There are many people in this world who are hungry, and thirsty, and who are strangers, who are naked, who are sick, and who are in prison. Our Lord Jesus is calling us to care for these as if we had cared for him.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me,” he says.
St. Paul writes in the letter we heard today about the coming of the Lord, and the resurrection of the dead:
“… then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Death, the last enemy, is to be destroyed. We have no fear of death, when we accept Jesus as our King. Jesus cares for us more than we could ever care for ourselves. And we when we let him care for us, and be our King, then we can know the peace that passes understanding.
I long to hear those words, and I hope you do, too: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Amen.