Christ the King Sunday

November 22, 2020

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word.  Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.

 

M:       We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

C:        Amen

Confession of Sins

M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, by your victory you have broken the power of the evil one.  Fill our hearts with joy and peace as we look with hope to that day when every creature in heaven and on earth will acclaim you King of kings and Lord of lords to your unending praise and glory; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:     Amen

The Word

FIRST LESSON – Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24

As the shepherd gathers his sheep, so the LORD would gather His people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, and ultimately all believers to their heavenly home.

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.  I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.  I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.  I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.  I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.  There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,” declares the Sovereign LORD.  “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.  I will shepherd the flock with justice.  I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.  I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.”  I the LORD have spoken.  (NIV1984)

 

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 47

 Clap your hands, all you nations;

shout to God with cries of joy.

How awesome is the LORD Most High,

the great King over all the earth!

God reigns over the nations;

God is seated on His holy throne.

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,

the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.

Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.

For God is the King of all the earth;

sing to Him a psalm of praise.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit,

            as it was in the beginning,

                        is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

SECOND LESSON – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 (Sermon Text)

At the end of our world, Christ will reign supreme and all believers will rise to live under his loving direction.

 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn; Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, 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.  For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.  (NIV1984)

 VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Alleluia. (Rev 22:13)

CAlleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is

       the Christ, the Son of God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 27:27-31

Jesus is indeed the King of the Jews.  He is the King of kings.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him.  “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.  They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.  After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him away to crucify him.  (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  The End— We Win!

Dear fellow worshipers of Christ, our King,

Genesis 2:  “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”  Genesis 3: “’You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman.  ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”  Genesis 3: “Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?…By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 5:  “And then he died…and then he died…and then he died….”

Thus began a journey that has literally consumed every living thing for thousands upon thousands of years— right down to this very day.  Aside from two notable exceptions— Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11, 12)— the mortality rate of the human race has been consistent at 100%.  As I have taught for many years, while death is not a “natural” part of life, both the reality of sin and the power of sin guarantees that death is an ”inevitable” part of life.  In fact, life has been described as an endless procession to the cemetery.  People may try to avoid it and people may try to minimize it, but death is powerful and death brings with it eternal consequences.

Now as you know, today is Christ the King Sunday.  So, why are we focusing on death this morning?  The reason, my friends, is because of what the apostle Paul tells us in our text for today.  On this Christ the King Sunday Paul says to you and to me, “Then the end will come…the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  With those two thoughts ringing loud and clear in our minds, let’s study our text under the theme:  The End— We Win!

Why do we believe, teach, and confess that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords?  Paul answers that question by placing before us a number of undeniable facts.  Look at what he says in the opening portion of our text, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

The undeniable fact upon which we claim that Christ is our King is found in the words, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.”  As we noted last week, the physical resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday is absolutely essential for absolutely everything that you and I believe!  Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that He has defeated death!  Because Jesus rose from the dead  as the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” we know that Jesus has the power and the authority to grant victory over death to everyone who believes and trusts in Him!  I’m sure we all remember and love Paul’s proclamation at the end of 1 Corinthians 15, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  Yes, the cross on Calvary’s hill assures us of this undeniable truth:  Death lost— He (Pointing to the cross) won!

But didn’t I just say a few moments ago that aside from two notable exceptions the mortality rate of the human race has remained consistent at 100%?  How do we reconcile the mortality rate of the human race with Jesus’ victorious resurrection from the dead?  That question brings us to the second undeniable fact found in this portion of our text:  “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  While Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead guarantees that He has defeated death, the fact that we have all inherited the sinful nature that has been handed down to us by Adam and Eve means that we will all die— but only physically.  The gift of saving faith which God has created in our hearts guarantees us that we are not dead spiritually and we will not die eternally!  “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25, 26).  That is the promise that Christ our King gives to us!

Once Paul has placed us on that rock-solid foundation, he then goes on to speak the words which reveal why this portion of Scripture was assigned to Christ the King Sunday.  Paul writes, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, 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.”

Did you notice how Paul states yet another undeniable fact?  “For he (Jesus) must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet.”  Jesus’ descent into hell to proclaim His Easter victory proved to Satan that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Jesus’ Easter victory also proves to us that Jesus is the One who is now ruling over all things in heaven and on earth— for the good of His Church.  (See Ephesians 1:15-23)  In fact, we can rightfully say that Easter marked “the beginning of the end” of this world as we know it.  We are now in the “last days” of this world’s existence.  (See Hebrews 1:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:20)  While we aren’t always able to see that Jesus is ruling as King over all things, and while we may not always understand what our King is doing— or why He is doing it— we know that our King is the One who is guiding and directing the kingdoms of this world.  We know that our King is patiently allowing the necessary amount of time for all His elect to repent of their sins and be brought into His eternal Kingdom of Grace.  (See 2 Peter 3:89)  Once our King has determined that everything that needs to happen has happened then as Paul says here in our text — “the end will come.”

The word which is translated here as “the end” is one of my favorite Greek words.  Very literally, this word means “the goal.”  It is the noun form of the verb which is translated in John 19:30 as, “It is finished,” or “I have reached My goal.”  Just as our King had a “goal” for coming into this world  (“You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins— John 19:30), so also our King has a “goal” for this world.  When that “goal” has been reached, then “the end will come.”  Until then “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

The verb which is translated here as “destroyed” very literally means, “to render ineffective, to nullify, to cancel, to destroy, to abolish, to do away with.”  Note how beautifully that verb ties in with our King’s “goal” for this world!  When “the end”  comes, when our King returns to this earth in all of His power, majesty and glory, death itself will be “rendered ineffective.”  Death itself will be “nullified.”  Death itself will be “done away with.”  Once our King has achieved His “goal,” once “the end” of this world arrives we will be able to joyfully say for all of eternity:  We win!  We win because our King (Pointing to the cross) won!

That leaves us with the closing verses of this text.  Paul writes, “For he has ‘put everything under his feet.’  Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

At first glance, these words may sound rather confusing.  At first glance, these words may cause a couple of questions to rise in our minds.  What does the Holy Spirit mean when He says, “Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ”?  How are we to understand that on Judgment Day, as our King, the “Son of God himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all”?

What makes these words difficult to understand is that we are trying to wrap our limited, mortal, sinful minds around the eternal, perfect, Triune God!  I look at these words this way:  God the Father sent God the Son into this world as our true flesh-and-blood Brother to serve us as our Savior.  As both the true Son of God and the true Son of Man Jesus could rightfully say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  As the true Son of God and the true Son of Man Jesus could also rightfully say, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).  Because Jesus was and is victorious in completing the Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world, “everything” has indeed been put “under his feet.”  At the same time, from the perspective of the God-Man, when “the end” comes, Jesus’ “goal” includes willingly and humbly placing Himself “under” God the Father.  This willing “submission” on the part of Jesus in no way detracts from the undeniable fact that God the Son is equal to God the Father.  This willing “submission” in no way detracts from the undeniable fact that Jesus will reign for all of eternity side-by-side with God the Father.

I found it helpful to know that the word which is translated here as “the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him” is the very same word that is used in Luke 2:51 where we are told that the eternal Son of God “was obedient” to His earthly parents.  It is also the very same word that is used in Ephesians chapter five where we are told that as Christians we are to willingly submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (verse 21) and Christian wives are to willingly submit to their husbands as to the Lord” (verse 22).  This word does not denote “rank.”  It does not describe different levels of “importance.”  Here in our text this word leads us to marvel at the mystery of the Trinity and to stand in awe of the wonder of the God-Man, our Lord and Savior, Christ our King!

While it is accurate to describe life as an endless procession to the cemetery, we are eternally thankful that Christ is our victorious King!  As our King Christ has not only defeated death by physically rising from His grave on Easter Sunday, but as our King Christ will one day “destroy” death, “abolish” death and “do away” with death— forever!  With Jesus’ victory over death as an undeniable fact we rejoice in knowing that as we wait for “the end” to arrive, as we wait for Jesus to bring about His “goal” for this world, our faith in what Jesus has done for (Pointing to the cross) us gives us the confidence that enables us to say each and every day:  We win!

To God be the glory!

Amen

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

 OFFERING

During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His Anointed One.

“Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, saying,

“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’”  (Psalm 2)

With those words, dear Lord, you reminded your people of old and you remind us, your people today, that you are the God who is in control of all things.  You are the God who rightfully claims the title of being the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  As we bow before you today we humbly bring you our thanks and our praise, our worship and our adoration.  Help us to always remember that purely out of your grace and purely out of your power you established your throne in our hearts by bringing us to faith in you as our only Lord and Savior.  Help us now to boldly and openly live our lives in such a way that everyone can see and hear that Jesus is indeed our King!

As we look around in our world today and as we look around here in our own country it does not always appear that you are ruling as King.  But you are!  We know you are!  Your empty grave and your ascension into heaven are your guarantee to us, your children, that you are ruling over all things in heaven and on earth for the good of your Church!  Your empty grave and your ascension into heaven is your guarantee to us, your children, that you have a plan— a plan for our lives, a plan for our country, a plan for this world.  Help us to trust in your plan— even when it goes far beyond our understanding.  Help us to always acknowledge that you are our Supreme King.

All of this we ask in the Name of Jesus our Lord, who taught us to pray:

C:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

C:        Amen.