Christ is King!

Luke 23: 3-43

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

  1. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

IS CHRIST KING?

In preparing for this service, I thought it would be interesting to see what other preachers in other churches have to say about Christ the |King. So, I read some sermons on the internet and quickly found a general sense of awkwardness about the idea of Christ as a King, which seems to have two sources. One is political, the other anti-monarchical.   

Many Christians seem to be naturally on the left politically. As we have seen in recent months, this country has become increasingly republican and anti-monarchical. 

The past leader of the Labour Party UK, Jeremy Corbyn, refused to sing the National Anthem or to kneel before the sovereign. There are plenty of people in the Church who share these views. 

I used to work with a URC  minister who was very anti-Royalty. In a sermon, he admitted that he disliked royalty so much he would leave the country to avoid a coronation. He also thought we should celebrate ‘Christ as a democratically-elected President’ rather than ‘Christ the King’, and attested that Jesus was a pure communist.

Whatever view we hold, whatever happens on this wordy plane, monarchy or not, our Jeremiah reading looks forward to the day when Christ is King of heaven and earth, and justice will reign forever.

Jeremiah 23: 3-6

“I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will raise up for David (who was a King)  a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely, and do what is just and right in the land.


In his days Judah will be saved
    and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Saviour

JESUS’ KINGLINESS WAS ALWAYS EVIDENT

In the gospels, the life of Jesus is framed by kingship. At his Nativity, three kings are seeing the newborn King of the Jews. And at the Crucifixion, the notice hammered onto the top of his cross ironically echoes the same unfulfilled promise – ‘This is Jesus, King of the Jews.’ 

What kind of King begins his earthly life in a stable and ends it as the victim of a cruel public execution? His reaction to whether he was a king is, at least to Pilate, elusive. ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ demands Pilate in John’s Gospel. ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight so I should not be delivered to the Jews“.

Here is Jesus the friend of the poor, the non-political figure who proclaimed that every human being is equal in God’s sight. 

Jesus, the rebel who defied authority and overthrew the money changers’ tables in the temple. 

Jesus, born in a stable, entered Jerusalem on a donkey and died the death of a common criminal for our salvation.

This Jesus, who promised the thief hanging next to him that he would be in paradise with him.

But Christ has not always been thought of as a king. In the first century, you wouldn’t find any representations of Christ in physical form at all, but only in signs – groups of letters. Or the sign of the fish. Other early representations are of Christ as the lamb, the true vine, and the Good Shepherd – but not a King.

To the early Christians, the King was the Emperor of Rome, a figure of worldly power who persecuted them, martyred them, and forced them to worship false gods. So, it would have been strange for them to think of Jesus as resembling a Roman Emperor – a King. 

So instead, they imagined Jesus as more like themselves: the suffering servant who was obedient even till death and surrounded themselves with images of the lamb, the dove, the vine, the fish, and the shepherd.

WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

It was in the 4th century when Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity and the image of Jesus as King.

The head (Pontiff) of the Church, Jesus Christ, and the Emperor shared majesty in a typical ‘maiestas‘. The figure of worldly power, the emperor, and the figure of Christ the King were merged into one.

Now, this is a very interesting moment in the history of the Christian Church. But, first, Jesus clarified that he wasn’t a king and never sought worldly authority.

 But in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine, the most potent King on earth, not only legalised Christianity but became himself a Christian. The spread of Christianity between the time of Constantine and 600 AD is astonishing and the map of the Christian world began to resemble an empire.  

Though Christ Himself refused to be a King, the earthly kings protected and spread his gospel by acting on His behalf. The religion of the powerless became the religion of the powerful.

CHRIST THE KING

The important thing to remember is that Christ the King was not introduced by the early Church to promote or support worldly authority but to challenge it, where it is unjust, divided, and discriminatory. It was hoped that the kings of the earth would live by the example of Christ.

The image of Christ in majesty is an image of authority, but the authority of the dove, shepherd, lamb, and vine denotes love and peace and justice. 

The image of Christ as King stands as universal, inclusive, merciful, reconciling, and more loving than any earthly Kingship can ever be.

COLOSSIANS 1:15-20

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

 16 For in him all things were created. Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities have been created through him and for him. 

17 He is before all things; in him, all things hold together.

 18 And he is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that he might have supremacy in everything. 

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 

20 and through him, he reconciles to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

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Combat Spiritual Dryness -How to be joy-full

When you go out for a meal, you order the main thing. Then you may order ‘something on the side’, and other extras may take your fancy. Unfortunately, restaurants offer so many optional extras that it is often hard to choose.

Sometimes as believers, we think that joy is an optional extra. You may accept salvation by grace but think that the ‘Fruits of the Spirit and joy, being one of them, are extra and will come later.

 This view is a distorted view of what salvation does for you. The fruit of joy, like all the five fruits (Galatians 5), is a by-product of your inner change and not an ‘extra option thing.

Not an Optional Extra

Joy is not an optional extra but is evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. 

Joy is not a side order but an essential ingredient of the main Course.

During our most painful losses and sufferings, we discover how deep the supply of Christian joy is. Such joy is not thin, frivolous, and empty but thick, substantive, and complete.

The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1: 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

The joy of the Lord may be peculiar to those who don’t have it. But, for the believer in Christ, the joy of the Lord comes as naturally as grapes on a vine. 

As we abide in Christ, the True Vine is full of His strength and vitality, and the fruit we produce, including joy, is His doing John 15:5.

Keep Joy Alive in You

Philippians 4:4-7

Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll repeat it: Be joyful! Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation, let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

You have inexpressible joy as a result of salvation- so allow it to grow, and nurture it to keep it alive.

Acts 8: 34-39

In this passage, the Ethiopian Eunuch heard, understood and believed the gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ, so he wanted to be baptised and asked Philip to baptise him. However, when they came out of the water, the Holy Spirit caught Philip away, and he disappeared; even so, the Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. (39). This is the Joy of Salvation.

The Joy Of Salvation: What Is It?

Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is an experience that brings deliverance, restoration and preservation, and as a result, you are filled with joy.

Salvation is deliverance from the grip of Satan, a restoration and a U-turn from the pit of hell. 

Salvation and the joy of salvation are closely connected though separable. Joy is the natural fruit of salvation, which you open yourself up to so you experience it.

Joy is a foretaste of heaven (1 Pet. 1:8). Unfortunately, not many people have this joy, including those who attend Church services regularly; this is because they don’t nurture and allow it to dry up.

Spiritual dryness is one of the worst things to happen to a believer. Joy is the water that will bring your life. Joy is the result of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, who is the Living water Revelation 21.

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful. Come back here soon because, In my next post, I will share more about joy and how you can maintain it in your life.

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Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

 Paula Rose Parish💕

Does Your Church Make You Happy, Spiritually Fed- or Fed Up?

I thought i knew the recipe for a successful in a church. Now, I  wonder sometimes, how much we think about our personal purpose with in the church that we are part of. My perspective has changed over the years. I have seen a lot happen that brings me to the conclusion that I now have- so this brings me to the question-

Do you attend church for what you personally get out of it, or do you go to pour yourself into the lives of others?

An Incorrect View of a Church- Does This Church Make ME Happy? 

I often read and respond to questions and comments regarding attending church and engaging in a church. There are so many people who have an incorrect view of why the church (Global and Local) exists.

There are far too many people who go to church for what they receive from attending or being part of a church.

The right way to view is- what can I do for my church? 

The problem is if you’re looking for a church to make you happy, you’ll be always disappointed. With this attitude you end up super judgemental and scrutinise it at every turn.

As soon as that church no longer makes you happy, you become dissatisfied, and end up leaving finding somewhere else to go – or you will stop going altogether. There is NO such thing as a perfect church so you will continue looking and be wander from one church to the next. 

Don’t get me wrong – we need to be discerning about the church leadership and ask the questions,

Is this Church teaching the full gospel of God?

Is this church for me?

Does the Lord want me to be part of this church?

if the answer to these few questions is yes- then you need to ride the rough times that every churches experiences and support it regardless.

Does My Church Feed Me? 

When you are a new Christian, you just accept what comes your way and are so grateful that your sins are forgiven- forever. Sometimes those who have been believers for a long time expect to be fed a certain “spiritual diet”. It seems that big spiritual words that few understand are better along with some Greek and Hebrew! 

 I went to two Christian colleges and university, I learned a lot. However, I don’t believe that I must be constantly fed more and more head knowledge. In fact, I am still learning to live more like Christ day to day and how to put into action more and more of His Word. Living for, and like Christ is far more important than having a head full of deep theology. 

 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 

Many of us have been believers for several years and want to eat this so called “spiritual diet.” The apostle Paul writes about eating meat, versus the milk of the Word, If we view this verse in context, he’s address a rift in the church as they go over and over again the rite of baptism, salvation and the resurrection etc. Paula is telling them to get on with living the gospel and stop trying it into some dead religious exercise.

But today many take this out of contest, and believe the church ‘owes’ them something and they must feel that they are spiritual fed.

But do we have to get fed “meat” at our own local church?  

As I was studying this topic, I came across the verses also about “Am I of Paul, or Apollos or Peter?” in I Corinthians. This passage reminds me that I don’t have to get my spiritual teaching only by my Pastor at my own church. I also need to take responsibly of my own spiritualty and study the Word on my own!  I need to learn to feed myself!

So many resources are available now, such as Christian radio, Podcasts, Books, Seminars and the Internet. We can get fed “spiritual meat”, very easily. Scripture tells us also to encourage each other at church too.

Do you look for what you can get only at church, or do you try to give to newer believers, seekers or anyone who wants to learn, while at your local church? 

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3:13 

Discipleship – is Feeding Others

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 

Again, we must take responsibly of own our spiritualty to be able to make disciples successfully.  

Do you “Pour” into others’ lives? If not, are you willing to? How about investing in a new believer or one who needs to understand the Word of God better?  

Jesus had 12 disciples that He chose to invest in. Do you have someone in your sights or a few people that you can invest in? 

Too many times, we get caught up in buying and gaining more and more, and then we take that world view into our church life. Its a ‘giv-my’ culture instead of laying ones life down for others.