Monday, December 16, 2013

NOV 24 - Christ The King Sunday

CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
NOV 24, 2013
FR. PHILIP EBERHART




This morning I want to start out by looking again closely at the words from our epistle of Paul to the Colossian church.  This section of the letter is very important for us to get a handle on, for it contains the keys to understanding Jesus and His centrality in the plan of God, the Father and His centrality in the salvation of mankind.  Just look again with me for a moment at the reading.  

Not the whole, but I want to pick out the pronouns and accompanying words that refer to Jesus.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for himHe himself is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherHe is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

So, let's take a minute or two and just count up...
15 times in 10 verses - he, his, him, himself, He himself!   Who is is this about principally?  

Last half of the last line in the first paragraph:   HIS BELOVED SON, IN WHOM WE HAVE REDEMPTION, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

It's all about Jesus!  Just listen to the pronouns and their surrounding words...

His glorious power... 
     He has rescued us ... 
         [He has] transferred us ... 
             His Beloved Son ... 
                 He is the image ...
in Him all things ... 
     created through him and for him.  
           He himself is before all ... 
                 in Him all things hold together ...
He is the head ... 
     He is the beginning ...  
          In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell ... 
                through Him God was pleased  to reconcile to himself all things.

Now I want you to notice two more words in the center:  SO THAT ...   this is kind of like 'therefore.'  The whole point of the passage here turns on those two words:  

SO THAT HE MIGHT COME TO HAVE FIRST PLACE IN EVERYTHING.

DOES JESUS HAVE FIRST PLACE IN EVERYTHING - FOR YOU - FOR ME - FOR US - FOR OUR WORLD, OUR LIFE?
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

This morning is the last Sunday after Pentecost - the Sunday of Christ, the King!  Next Sunday begins our new year in the church, the first Sunday of Advent.  We change colors, we change liturgies, we change emphases in anticipation of His birth and His second coming.

But today is very important for us as we consider Jesus.  I love the words of the writer to the Hebrews in the 12th chapter after the famous Olympic metaphor of running the race, he simply says, "Consider Jesus..."
Friends, THAT is what I want to do for these moments this morning:   CONSIDER JESUS!

This section of the letter of Paul to Colosse and the Church there and in the surrounding area, and eventually to all of Christ's followers everywhere through all of time ... this section is a key to our vision of and understanding of Jesus as the Son of God and to our Christology - our study and learning of Christ - more than almost any passage in the New Testament.  

It stands along side the passage in Philippians 2 that we refer to as the KENOSIS - the passage about the self-emptying of Christ in order to come and be among us as a servant and to die the death he died on the cross. I want to consider both of those realities this morning as they are both central to our understanding of Jesus, as God and as Man.
For another three centuries after these letters were written by Paul, the church continued to struggle with "considering Jesus."  Who was he and how is it possible to consider that he was who He clearly said He was!???
Some say that Jesus never said He was God.  And it's true that He did not say those exact words:  I AM GOD.

But if you leave off the word GOD he did say the rest!  And in the Jewish context the words "I AM" had a particular and very specific meaning.  They represented the very NAME of God given to Moses at the encounter with the presence of God in the burning bush in Sinai.  "I AM THAT I AM"
Jesus knew the import of those words in the context where He spoke them - at his trial before Caiphas leading up to his crucifixion.  The reason he was on trial was his statements and deeds that aggravated their Jewish blasphemy laws... forgiving sins ... upsetting the temple business ... calling God his Father ... and so forth.  It is clear that the Jewish leaders who brought Jesus to trial, understood clearly his claim to be God and rejected it.

But let's look at this passage from Paul again for a moment:
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for himHe himself is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherHe is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Paul is praying here.  Listen to the two verses just before this: vss 9 and 10:

     So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you.  We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.  Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  All the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

 So the context of this passage about Jesus Christ is set in the midst of a prayer.  Our reading continues with the words, MAY YOU be made strong and MAY YOU be prepared to endure, and He has ENABLED YOU to share in the inheritance - rescued US and transferred US - and WE have redemption!
 

Though we cannot say it is all about US we must say it is about US in relationship to HIM.  
So let us Consider Jesus a bit further:
Who HE is and then What HE has done...

He is The IMAGE - the ICON - of the invisible God .  Jesus Christ is the exact image - if you want to see God, look at Jesus!  If you want to know anything about God, look at Jesus!  If you want to see the Creator, look at Jesus!  If you want to see the Sustainer of the universe, look at Jesus!  If you want to see the Savior of the World, look at Jesus!    If you need a rescuer, look to Jesus! If you need to me transferred from darkness to light, look to Jesus!  If you need power in your life, look to Jesus!  If you want to gain your inheritance - your destiny in God - look to JESUS!  

He is the firstborn, the preeminent ONE In all creation!  He is the Word that was WITH God and that WAS GOD!  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, From Whom and Through Whom and For Whom all things came into being - and He is the ONE IN WHOM all things find their being and sustinance.

Paul starts his long sentence at the beginning of his Ephesian letter with these words:  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ!"
Paul goes on in the Colossian letter:   HE IS THE HEAD of HIS Body, the Church.  Jesus is the ONE from whom all of this ... flows.  Our life, our oneness, our unity, our exaltation, our empowerment, our giftings, our peace, love, joy, faith ... it all comes from one SOURCE>  JESUS.

He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing!
ISN'T THAT YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Well..... (long silence)
Why not?

It's because we need what he offered us from His only Throne here on earth.  The only throne Jesus ever mounted while he was on the earth was in the shape of a cross!!
Paul said it best in Philippians:  "He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross!"

Turn back with me to the gospel reading in our morning bulletin.
I just want you to see three very important little words as we close.

How do we get there from here?  We acknowledge that we have an experience gap!  We hear all these great things from Paul and wonder at the beauty of Jesus Christ and his power and that he is the very image and fullness of God.  We think about his being the Head of the body and from him flow all the blessings He has given us in the heavenly realms.  We are seated with Him in heavenly realms.

But there is an experience gap!  How do we get there from here?

Three very important little words of Jesus , spoken from the cross, that provide the way for us to come, through the power of the blood he shed there in those moments.  For us to come to Father and be reconciled forever.  For us to be transferred from the darkness of our intellect and our earthly thinking and experience into the glorious light of His kingdom - of the Saints in Light!

There is only one way friends for us to come.  And it is through these three little words.  Spoken by the King of the Universe as He hung on the Cross for us, in our place, so we can, as Paul said, have "redemption, the forgiveness of our sins."

The three little words were a prayer for us from the cross:
"Father, forgive them."

Let us pray:
Father, never have so few words meant so much to so many.  We come this morning amazed at your glory and the majesty of your presence.  Filled with wonder at the beauty of your Son, Jesus and his gift of salvation to us.  Thank you, Father, for sending your Son Jesus.
Lord Jesus, we stand amazed in your presence.  Look down on us again from your Cross/Throne with your thorny crown and say to us again, "Father, forgive them."  We receive your forgiveness and we enter into all you have provided for us in those words and through your sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary.  Help us move in our experience, toward You and toward all that you have for us.

Holy Spirit, come now and breathe this life - the life of Jesus into us.  We wait on you, and open our hearts and lives to your love.  

You are our all in all, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God.  Now and forever.
Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment