the Kingship of Christ

Posted on November 26, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Today is the Sunday before Advent, the Sunday when we focus on the Kingship of Christ. Our Lord, as you know, told Pontius Pilate at his trial that his 'kingdom was not of this world.' By this we may understand that in this age his kingdom may be regarded as a hidden thing. During this life we are expected to live our lives under his kingship and proclaim to the world that he is its true and only king – but he will force nothing on us. We have been granted free will and our Sovereign and our Saviour will not interfere with that.


However, at the end of the ages all that will change. Christ will come again in his glory with his angels; and we will be held to account by our Ruler and Judge for the choices we have made in this life. How have we employed that free will we were given? Have we used it well; or have we used it badly? And our eternal destiny hangs in the balance based on how Jesus, true God and true man, decides how that question is to be answered.


Now, there are some commentators who try to argue that the passage which speaks of this, our Gospel reading today, should be seen as a parable and that therefore what our Lord is describing here is to be taken figuratively. However, to do so is to ignore everything what the Church Fathers have written about what Jesus says here; it is also to ignore what the Church that Christ founded has taught based on this passage down through the ages; and it is to ignore the clear and unambiguous words our Lord uses to begin this section of Sacred Scripture. He says a 'when the Son of Man comes in his glory.' This is not figurative language. There are two other parables in this chapter of St Matthew's Gospel; all concern the end of days; and they do not begin like this. The first begins with the words 'Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten virgins …' and the next with 'For it will be as when a man going on a journey …' Our Lord leaves his listeners in no doubt whatsoever that he is not speaking literally; and we can be sure, therefore, that he is undoubtedly speaking literally when he says 'when the Son of Man comes in his glory.'


So let us consider some of the implications of what is that God himself is telling us about what will happen at the end of the ages. The first is that Christ indeed will come again. We are almost into the season of Advent; a time for looking back to the time when he first came into our world; but also a time for preparing ourselves for that day when he will come again. It is therefore important not to use this time only as a time for rejoicing, thinking of his Nativity, and how he was born to save us from our sins; and certainly not to only use it as time for joining in all the secular celebrations of those in the world around who not only do not accept him as their King, but actively mock his teachings, his Church, and those who follow him; but to make space during that season to consider whether we are ready for when he returns … and how we may make ourselves ready if we are not.


Next, when he comes, he will come as king and judge. And he will hold us to account for how we have treated our brothers and sisters. Have we cared for those in need – have we fed the hungry; have we clothed the naked? And also, have we looked to their spiritual needs? For, as St Jerome reminds us concerning this passage, the poor are not only those who do not have food or drink or shelter … there are also those who are poor in spirit. Indeed, perhaps there has never been a time in the modern era where there have been so many who have poor in this way. And this is a far greater poverty than the material kind. For if you are poor when it comes to the good things of this life it is only a temporary thing; but if you are poor when it comes to spiritual riches then the harm you suffer as a result can be eternal. We must not neglect the needs of those who are poor in this way; and if we do not do our very best to alleviate this poverty which afflicts their very souls, then we may expect to be held to account for it ourselves.


And the last thing to consider this morning is this: hell is real, people go there, and they go there for all eternity. This may seem harsh in our modern era when the most wicked criminals often receive little more than a slap on the wrist compared with the enormity of their offences. However, divine justice works differently; and just as our free will is respected by God in this life, so it is respected by him in the next. And even as he will not force us to accept him as King in this age, neither will he force those who have rejected him as King on earth to serve him as King in heaven. They have chosen hell by their actions. The man who throws himself off a cliff may regret his decision when he sees the rocks below rushing up towards him; but he has already made his choice and his regrets will not alter the laws of gravity. Our chance to accept Christ as King comes in this life; and it is too late to do so in the next.


However, Christ does not tell us all this to alarm us or to frighten us. He informs us as to what will happen the next time he comes into the world for the very same reason he came into it the first time – so that all men might be saved. It is his greatest desire that all should one day join him in heaven; he wants it so much that he was willing to die on a cross in order that it would be possible. We have a king that loves us that much; and all he asks is that we love him in return and show that love by the way we live our our lives on this earth. Those who do so will receive the greatest reward any king ever has or ever could bestow upon his subjects; to be placed by him at his right hand on the last day and be welcomed by him into eternal life; a welcome that I pray all here will receive - in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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