January 19, 2022

Reign of Christ 21-11-2021

21st November 2021
(Christ the King Sunday)
Title: Reign of Christ
(Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:4 – 8; John 18: 33 – 37)
By Heeyoung Lim
Grace and peace to you! Today is Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday. It brings us full circle in the liturgical year. Next week, we will begin again in Advent, preparing for the birth of the Christ child. Today, our texts show us the circle of hope in which our faith is grounded, and our lives transformed. It is about God’s covenant, Christ’s reign, and the Spirit’s abiding presence.
The Book of Revelation begins and ends with grace (1 & 22). The greetings in 1:4 bestowing grace and peace from the God ” who is and who was and who is to come” are connected to the circle of hope in Christ. “Grace and peace” had become a standard Christian greeting by the time John wrote. Grace is the great privilege of the Christian life and peace was the great privilege of the Old Testament age (Num. 6:26), in Hebrew, shalom. Christians share in all the blessings God has to offer. Grace and peace are privileges God extends to all believers.
In the book of Revelation, “Lord Jesus” is more mentioned instead of “Jesus Christ”. Revelation shows the fact that Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth and his sovereign role as King. This was written during the reign of the emperor Domitian. Domitian had instituted a decree that he be addressed as “Lord and God.” Those who refused suffered persecution or death. Christians in those times faced an extraordinary crisis.
The book of Revelation highlights the promissory message it gives and offers hope and encouragement, especially to suffering people. The real authority over their lives is God, revealed in Christ, not earthly kings. Jesus is worthy of all praise because of who he is and what he has done. In today’s text, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega who is the First and the Last. He is the Living One, the firstborn from the dead, the one alive forever, the faithful witness, and the one who holds the keys of death.
Regarding the reign of Christ, Jesus freed us from our sins, made us to be a kingdom and priests and he loves us. His second coming will be glorious and public, because the Lord God Almighty will make it happen. The Almighty One – who is, and who was, and who is to come – encircles us in hope before and beyond all time. His power is seen in the title the Almighty, the one whom none can resist. What truth maintains and shapes your daily living? How does our faith community express its hope in God’s eternal truth both individually and collectively?
Power and authority belong to Christ. Christ’ power, exercised and embodied in love and freedom, is contrasted with the oppressive power confronted by the community of this book. Especially, in verse 6, the verb love is a form that could be translated “keeps on loving.” The verb love is not a past recollection of what had been done on the cross. It is not restricted to the promise of hope that will someday be fulfilled. Christ’s love is continued in our lives. The crises and problems that affected us do not define us. Christ makes us as “kingdom” and as “priests” even in our difficulties as in the expressions of Revelation.
Jesus is King over the kingdom of God, and we can believe that Christ will come again. The public, glorious return of Jesus Christ is the theme of Revelation. We do not know when Jesus will return, but the second coming of Christ will be glorious and public rather than lowly and private, and it would not be hidden, it can be seen in public.
In today’s Gospel reading, Pilate, the imperial governor of Judea, could not imagine this beaten man was the king of the Jews. When Jesus is standing before Pilate, Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” But this is not his real question. The real question is, “What is the truth?” Jesus has come to testify to the truth, so Pilate asks again, “So you are a king?” But through the conversation, Pilate gets one answer, “My kingdom is not from here.”
Earthly kingdoms find their source with sinful humanity, but Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. When we live in his spiritual kingdom of truth rather than worldly kingdom, we recognise the lordship of the King over the lives of his people. Jesus said, “everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Once again Jesus set truth as the dividing standard for right and wrong, but the truth was not all he cared about.
In John 18:38-40, Pilate declared Jesus’ innocent: I find no basis for a charge against him. Nevertheless, to satisfy the Jews, he let them select a prisoner of choice for release at the Passover. Whereby the sinner, Barabbas, which means “son of the father” was released, and Jesus, Son of the heavenly Father, went to death row.
In this chapter we see religious people twisted by hate. Pilate characterized this trial as a religious bickering among these Jews whom he was authorized to control. He tried to get at the truth about Jesus, but on a limited level. He needed to know the truth that Jesus was a completely different being who has genuine authority, but he was just confused and wanted to be rid of religious worries as quickly as possible.
However, Jesus was in control of all events related to his death and resurrection. Christ is, was, and always will be not just a king, but “ruler of the kings of earth,” to use the title from Revelation. Today’s text is model for the faithful witness of the early Christians and Christians today. May we never be caught ourselves at the temptation of Jesus’ enemies. I hope we can remember that all the events surrounding the death of Christ were prophesied in the Old Testament and achieved. May we show that we are committed to truth by obeying Jesus’ words.
The question I have been asked so many times in Australia was “Where are you from?” It can be a great conversation starter. I answered that I am from Seoul, South Korea whenever I have been asked about that. We are all from different kinds of cultures, regions, or countries, but we can be one in Christ because we are God’s people and Christ is our king.
If we are asked now, where are we from, how could we answer? We could say, as followers of Jesus Christ, “We live in a different place, a kingdom not from here.” It is important that we are living here doing our best on the earth, but I hope we could also confess “We are living in reign of Christ together”
We live in God’s kingdom which is not from here, a kingdom of grace and peace where Christ rules our new lives. We seek to live in God’s kingdom where God’s love, peace, and justice reign. We seek to live with innocence and integrity, humility and hope, grace and gratitude, faith, and forgiveness, widening the circle of our lives, for Jesus is not from here.  May we seek to live in the kingdom of God always and praise Christ for who He is and all that He has done. I pray that our faith community will be filled with divine blessings, warm greetings, and praises to Jesus.
Thanks be to God! Amen. 
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)