The Reign of Christ
What it Means for Christ to be King of All
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. It is not a celebration like Christmas or Easter or even one of the Saints days which goes back to our earliest days but rather came about through a papal decree in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. It was really a political statement. In an era that had just said goodbye to WWI, had seen the rise of a new world order, the rise of communism and nationalism there had been a profound political shift, especially in Europe. So the statement the pope was making was that kingship comes from God and not from earthly authority. Over time, this feast got moved the last Sunday of the liturgical year and it makes sense – before turning our attention to the babe in Bethlehem we remember that Christ is king of all.
What then does it mean for Christ to be king? The notion of king for some is patriarchal and therefore only so useful and for many of us really a concept of a bygone era. That said, I think we know enough about kingship to see what the good pope and the scriptural images were getting at to have some insight this morning. Well first we remember that the word Christ literally means “anointed” and the at we look at Jesus as the anointed one, sent from God. But sent for what? The answer I think is three-fold and has to do with the here and now, things eternal and the very nature of our existence. First, when we look at Jesus as king we see a model for kingship or leadership which we should follow. It recognizes that who our leaders are matter and that many in the world suffer needlessly because they have a self-serving and exploitive understanding of leadership and that the idea of a king or leader who serves the citizens has been lost on them. So when we think of Christ the king we can offer a model of leadership which remembers the needs of the people and recognizes that leadership is really a sacred responsibility. Second, we are reminded today about things eternal. That there is something eternal about Jesus and that he is judge of all. We especially see this in our reading from Revelation where Jesus is described as “The Alpha and Omega” (first and last letters in the Greek alphabet) which speaks to how the nature of Jesus transcends time. This is a reminder of the eternal care of God but also a reminder that how we live matters. There is a sense of both freedom and responsibility with this and an understanding that we live our lives in such a way that indeed we do connect with the divine. The last point I want to bring up this morning is that for Jesus to be king of all means that he speaks to the very nature of our existence. We see this in the gospel this morning when he moves Pilate, at his trial, to such an extent that Pilate asks one of the most profound questions found in scripture “what is truth?” Jesus challenges us to ask this question in our life. What is truth? The pursuit of status, money or pleasure? Is it found in our families, our hobbies or each other? Truth we are told comes from an understanding of Jesus as king – as the one who leads and guides us in all. That realization that indeed all – our world and our lives – are subject to the Christ, the anointed one.
This realization that Christ is king, the anointed one, should impact us on these three levels. It should give us a model of leadership, that we expect from our earthly rulers and that we emulate in our lives. It should remind us that Jesus is eternal and is the judge of all and it should challenge us at the very core of our existence to question the truth that we live by and to see that truth is only found in the Christ.
Thanks be to God. Amen.