Christ the King
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 2 Samuel 5:1-3
…and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:12-20
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “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 man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:35-43
Jesus Christ is King of the universe. This Gospel reminds us that we are not only accountable to him as individuals, but also as nations, as a society. It is not only personal (as in individual) actions for which we are accountable; it is the social policy, cultural mores, and organizational structures on every level of society for which we also answer to Christ the King. These realities are the result of the accumulated effects of the actions of many people over long periods of time. Sin is always personal, but there are “structures of sin” that embody the wrong choices individuals have made.
In this regard, of course, the word of God has much to say, at the heart of which is the right to life and the dignity of the human person.
Human rulers exercise real authority. Yet it is always the Lord who is the King. In the first reading, we read of Saul and David. Yet in the reading, Israel declares to the Lord, “It was you who led the Israelites,” and God declares that they are his people. Both the people and their king always belong to the Lord. The Gospel shows this in another way. Earthly authority made a terrible mistake in crucifying Jesus, and one of the criminals realized that mistake. Jesus shows himself to be the one with the real power, even while on the cross, as he accepts the criminal’s acknowledgment that he has a kingdom, and as he asserts that he is the way into Paradise.
Jesus’ kingship is based on his identity as God, and on his redemptive act of suffering, dying and rising. It is also based on something else, which comes through clearly in the Second Reading: he is Creator. Although we normally attribute this role to the Father, it remains true that what any person of the Trinity does outside the Trinity is done by all three. In the passage we read today from Colossians 1, Paul is actually commenting on the first words of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created.” He is outlining various nuances of the words “in the beginning,” indicating that that “beginning” is none other than Jesus Christ. He is “the beginning” because he is firstborn of creation, the one through whom all else was made, the one who existed first, the one in whom all things hold together, and so forth.
That is why the Church should be pro-life. That is why followers of Christ cannot find anything in creation that does not deserve a measure of reverence. It all came through Christ and all exists for Christ. To stand with Christ is to stand with life. He is “King” because he is at the very heart of all that is, including the supreme gift of human life, owned only by him, and deserving of unspeakable respect.
Are you looking for life-affirming scripture for a sermon or devotional? Our Life-Affirming Handbook includes a list of (NIV) Bible verses, prayers, liturgies & litanies to emphasize the Sanctity of Life. Use them when speaking or writing about life-affirming issues in sermons, talks, articles, and discussions.
Written by Rev. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life’s National Director and Pastoral Associate of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign co-sponsored by Anglicans for Life and Priests for Life.