This Sunday's worship marks the last Sunday of the Christian year and centers around the theme of ‘Christ the King.’ With the passing of this day, our hearts and minds turn toward Advent, when the Christian worship year begins again. So what of this day we call ‘Christ the King?’ What is God’s good word for those of us who worship this, the last Sunday before we journey to Bethlehem?
Of the four Gospel writers, only Luke records the detailed conversations that took place between our Lord and the two thieves who died with him that day on Calvary. Through Luke, you hear the mocking of the crowd and the derision of the soldiers. But only Luke includes a verse not found in some of our oldest Bibles, the verse that records Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” At that time, and place, of horrific human suffering, where abandonment meets death, Jesus dies on a rough-hewn cross beneath a darkened sky.
It is here that our Lord, hoisted above the ground and pegged to a cross between two thieves, is enthroned as the forgiving King. It is here, that Jesus, if you please, holds court before a crowd of insulting bystanders and a corps of profane soldiers. Here, that Jesus hangs on a splintered throne, the instrument of his death, with two lost sons of God who stole and murdered their way to Calvary. It is here, that Jesus dies … not so much as ‘King of the Jews,’ ... but as ‘Christ the King,’ full of mercy and love.
As we honor Christ the King on this day, I invite you to remember again with me this: that God offers the power to changes lives and alter history through the power of forgiving love. So, no matter how insensitive another has treated you … or how cruelly you have treated yourself … you are given life in the midst of death … hope in the face of despair … all from our splintered King’s throne. And remember, as we journey through life’s difficulties and joys, we should live with an awareness that no matter what happens to you or others … we live with hope. And in living with hope, we live in Christ’s kingdom.