November 21, 2021
Pastor John Hering
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood 6 and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him. Yes. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.
Did you say this was “Christ the King Sunday?” King of what? Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “Okay, but pastor, but this doesn’t make any sense. You should look at our world and you might reconsider the idea of Christ being in complete control. They are predicting major environmental changes that don’t sound so good. What about the runaway inflation? How long do you think it will be when the Stock Market crashes again? What about Covid? Booster or no booster? And what about the roads! You can’t even drive around DFW without wondering when it will be your turn to get into a major accident with all the crazy drivers. And maybe you haven’t noticed, but people don’t really care about each other much anymore. Life is really in the pits these days. Who is going to rescue us from this broken world? Jesus, the King?”
Can’t you just see the smirks on the faces of people today when you tell them that Jesus is the King who is in complete control? Like the gospel today when Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?… My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:33, 36). Jesus sure was a king, but not the kind Pilate was thinking of. What his eyes saw and what his ears heard didn’t make any sense—this tied up, beaten and bleeding Rabbi didn’t look like much of a king! Seems Pilate was all too eager to take advantage of Jesus and after having his soldiers mock Jesus Pilate had Jesus dragged out to the crowd and said, “Behold Your King!” (John 19:5). The sneering abuse of Jesus continued to the cross and the sign Pilate had written over Jesus’ head, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
Today we are meditating on Revelation. This letter was written by St John about 40 years after the events of Jesus to Christian congregations near the west coast of Asia Minor. The sneering of Christians who follow Christ was continuing. We can well imagine those who hated Christians saying, “You’re a Christian? Ha! Nobody in his right mind would put their hopes in a man who died on a cross to be their Savior and way to heaven! If your Savior Jesus was such a great king, then why are you Christians so poor? How come your churches are so small? How come the government says your religion is illegal?” What those Christians heard with their ears didn’t match what they could see through their eyes of faith. Here’s the challenge: Was there really any hope, any comfort, anybody that could raise them from the pits of following Jesus? The Apostle John gives us the same answer he gave those Christians in this letter called “The Revelation of St John.” He tells them and us,
Behold Your King
He Rescues Sinners
The president of the United States surrounds himself with advisors so he’s in the know. Ancient Kings did the same thing, so they know what’s going on. But, sadly, there is often one thing a typical king doesn’t know much about—Who is the true God. Some kings grew up with idols and statues in their cities, or even claimed they were the gods people should worship. Makes me wonder what sort of conversations the average people had about gods in John’s day without smart phones, TVs or even local churches. No wonder the people were so skeptical about gods and left them with the haunting question: Who is the true God? John reminds his readers what that answer is: “To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming.”
Conversations about who the true God is continues today. I’m not suggesting that at every coffee break, every back yard party, or every sporting event the conversation has to drift into talking about God, but every once in a while people get into conversations about God, religion and church. Maybe you mention an event at church (food drive, Thanksgiving Auction for missionaries, worship, etc.) and they ask, “What church do you go to?” You say, “Divine Peace.” It happened to me this past week when I stopped to pick up some firewood in downtown Garland. He asked, “What denomination?” I said, “Lutheran – but we’re the conversative ones who still believe what the Bible says.” He said, “Isn’t every religion about the same anyway?” That’s what’s on the minds of so many people. They believe all religions pretty much serve the same purpose. That’s the same concept at AA meetings—suggesting that members need to turn their life over to some “higher power.”
St John would beg to differ. Our God “is who was and who is coming.” There is only one true saving King who Rescues Sinners. John makes this clear in his opening greeting: “To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace to you and peace.” It all starts with grace. This is God’s undeserved love for you that sent Jesus to save you from the curse of sin. Those who believe in Jesus has “peace.” Peace sums up the result of God’s love. You know you’re forgiven. You know you’re going to heaven. You are at peace with “[Our God who] is who was and who is coming.” In Greek these are proper nouns, you know, names. God the Father has been from all eternity, is with us now, and will be with us forever. And look how we are blessed to believe in the true God: “and from the seven spirits that are before his throne.” Isaiah lists seven blessings which the Holy Spirit brings into our lives: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, Fear of the Lord (Is 11:1-3). The Holy Spirit enriches our lives with these godly characteristics. Then John records, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Jesus gave faithful testimony regarding his purpose and mission. Jesus is the Firstborn in rank, not time. Jesus is the King of Kings! So, when religion comes up in your conversations, memorize Rev 1: 4-5 and you’ll have tons to talk about how God Came to Rescue Sinners!
Do you want something to talk about? Then talk about our King who came to rescue us. It’s like a king who leaves his throne and walks down into the dungeon and sees criminals, burglars, cheaters, drunks, prostitutes and murderers. Jesus the king came and he sees you. He shouldn’t pardon any of us. Your friends might say, “Speak for yourself. I’ve never murdered anyone, robbed a bank, dealt drugs or slept with a prostitute.” Maybe you think that of yourself. But, you know in God’s eyes sins are not just bad actions, but also bad thoughts. What if your weeks’ worth of activities and thoughts were projected on the jumbotron for all to see? Are you ready to say you don’t need rescuing and face the Judge on the Last Day? The Bible says just one sin is enough to condemn us all to hell. We were all in need of rescue.
But, did you hear what John wrote? “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood.” These are facts! Jesus’ love for us is ongoing, never ending, faithful and unchanging. What Jesus promised 2000 years ago is still true today—you have been freed and washed from the curse of sin by the sacrificial blood Jesus shed for you on the cross! What king would die for the people in the dungeon? None! Except Jesus. Therefore, Behold Your King who Came To Rescue Sinners! Jesus has restored your status before God and as forgiven sinners Jesus
[He] Raises Our Sights
The Good News that Jesus our King has rescued us from the curse of sin is wonderful enough. But, there’s more. Jesus “made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.” Jesus has given us an exalted position in his kingdom! Who am I looking at? People who have been made kings and queens by Jesus to God the Father! Really? Maybe you’re like me and have more days that you feel like dirt than a king?! But, that’s because I’m looking at myself with the infected eyes of sin. All our eyes have this infection since our first parents fell into sin. When we look at ourselves through our own eyes we see it all too clearly. But, when Jesus Raises our Sights and we look at ourselves with the same perception with which the Father looks at us, you’ll see what God the Father sees through Jesus—Kings and Queens of his kingdom! Miracles of miracles! Behold Your King who Rescued you, Restored your Status and Raised your Sights to a heavenly level! With this gracious declaration of forgiveness, we are also called “priests to God his Father.” We are raised to a priestly status to serve God with our offerings of time, talents, treasures and testimony.
Behold Your King! We all know people who are good kings and leaders who have provided a vision for the people they serve. Our whole American political system records lots of candidates who have made tons of promises. But, we also know how many of those promises have been broken. No earthly king can raise the sights of people that guarantee the future 100%. But Jesus can and does. “7 Look, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him. Yes. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.” The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is using this picture to tell us he is our All In All. He is everything to us. He is the one who is in control of all things for the good of his Kingdom. The day will come when every person—believer and unbeliever—will acknowledge that Jesus is the King of Kings. All will acknowledge Jesus to be our Savior and King.
What our natural eyes see and our ears hear in the world around us sure doesn’t make it seem that Jesus is the King of Kings. But, then you get an email from a friends that says, “Dad’s cancer has taken a turn for the worse, but he is looking forward to glory with Jesus.” That’s what our eyes and ears of faith see and hear that the unbelieving world is blind and deaf to. We have a handle on the message of John’s Book of Revelation that says, “Jesus wins! He is the King of Kings. John calls Jesus true God when he writes, He is the “Lord God, the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.” Behold the King! He Rescues us Sinners and Raises our Sights to heaven. Behold the King! And Crown Him With Many Crowns! Amen!