20th November 2022
(Christ the King Sunday)
Title: Reign of Christ
(Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:1–6 & Luke 23:33–43)
By Heeyoung Lim
Grace and peace to you all. Today is Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday. It brings us full circle in the liturgical year. It means Today is the last Sunday of the church calendar. Next week, we will begin again in Advent, preparing for the birth of the Christ child.
In today’s texts, Jeremiah indicts leaders for not only failing to gather the people but scattering them. However, there is a message of hope in Jeremiah 23. The Lord promises to choose leaders who will care for scattered people like real shepherds. He declares that He will place new shepherds who will lead in accordance with God’s heart. He continues to declare that God’s people will no longer be afraid or terrified, not will any be missing. As in Jeremiah 23, the people scattered by the wrongdoing of their leaders will be brought back under the oversight of God as Shepherd. In Jeremiah, the term “shepherd” means “king”, and the prophet Jeremiah refers to God as a shepherd.
God will gather the scattered sheep from exile and provide a new ruler according to God’s plan. In verse 6, The Lord says, “As long as he is king, Israel will have peace and Judah will live in safety.” The name of this king will be called, “The Lord our Righteous Saviour.” The king will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
God’s promise does not stop at bringing back the scattered ones and putting in place new leaders who will serve the people. This is beyond the past or present; it is a word of restoration that looks forward to the future and belongs to God.
Today’s text takes us from what humans have messed up to what God is able to accomplish. The promise of God comes even in our tough times. God’s word of promise re-creates the people’s trust in God. His word is the word of hope and restoration. Jeremiah 23 speaks as to both what God will do in the future and to what God is doing here and now. It is accomplished through the Servant-King and Good Shepherd Jesus.
We are able to see Jeremiah’s expectations for a righteous king here, and the king cares for all the people as a good shepherd. May we live with the Lord as our king and model what Micah’s call “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Christ is our king.
As our world struggles with war, famine, heat wave, flood, bushfire, and many kinds of tragedies, how do we consider our call to live as God’s people? We long for God’s abundance and blessings in our lives, but we are suffering from something unexpected or difficult. What are our responses to the underlying issues of poverty, health, hunger, violence, and power? How do we get in on God’s restorative justice?
The reign of Christ is the reign of peace. Living under Christ’s reign means we are called to model Christ’s example to love God and neighbour. We are also called to work toward justice and God’s restoration for all people.
In Luke, while the religious leaders worked to destroy life, Jesus worked to save it. As Jesus prayed for forgiveness, the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, took his clothes and casted lots for them. We can see that the word Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled in this act. God knew his Son would die, suffering for the sins of the world (Isa. 53). The crowd and soldiers continued mocking and testing until Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus’ chosen disciples had fled the area in fear while He was on the cross. He watched those who mocked him and crucified him and asked the Father to forgive them. (v. 34) Jesus is shown asking God’s forgiveness for his persecutors. He poured out grace on those who executed him. Jesus’ forgiveness and grace broke through darkness, ridicule, and even death, showing that he is the King of peace and love.
In Luke 22, the people gathered and called for Jesus’ crucifixion. In today’s text, they became bystanders and part of the audience even in front of Jesus’ death. (35) In addition, they challenged Jesus to prove his kingship and to save himself. However, Jesus refused to save himself, he provided salvation for the world. Jesus was not the political messiah people wanted; He was the suffering Servant Messiah who saved others by dying on the cross with life giving love.
“Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (v. 42) The repentant thief wanted to be remembered when Jesus entered his kingdom. The thief did not have to wait even one day, because Jesus’ response was immediate. He did not know all the truth about Jesus, but he had faith to ask to be part of what Jesus was up to. His faith and confession just before his death secured him a place with Jesus. He would be part of Jesus’ kingdom in paradise. Jesus did nothing to deserve a criminal’s death, but He died on the cross so that we might be part of his kingdom.
Jesus showed compassion and grace even on the cross. Salvation and eternal life are God’s gifts given through Jesus who died on the cross. Christ’s promise to the thief extends to all who believe in him. When we acknowledge our sin and seek his salvation, Jesus responds with a word for today. May we experience life in Christ’s kingdom today by believing in him. Living word of Christ will lead us in all circumstances and let us experience the kingdom of God even in this world.
People’ sins led Jesus to the cross, but Jesus gave people opportunities to be saved by faith and places to be entered in His kingdom. Jesus has a place in paradise for believers. The cross revealed the glory of Christ by his obedience to God and his love by his care for other people. May we live a life that is dedicated to God and God’s way of peace, justice, and love above all else.
The reign of Christ for scattered, excluded, and people who are lost will continue in our lives. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, seeking and saving those who are lost. May we praise God for all he has done for us on the cross and live in expectation of the kingdom.
How can we express that God is the ruler of our lives? We are called to look to the Lord as king manifested in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. May we constantly look at Jesus and proclaim to whom we encounter the justice and love of Christ. This Sunday offers us the opportunity to proclaim God’s way and Christ’s reign. We can reflect on the truth that divine love and forgiveness are for each person. Christ’s peaceful reign does not know national boundaries. The reign of Christ holds us together and binds us by grace.
I believe that we will be closer to the Lord and live the life God wants. Just before Advent, may we think of our spiritual life over the past year or last ten years regarding closeness to God. I pray that our church family will be filled with divine love, peace, and justice in the reign of Christ.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)