Updated: Jan 30
Today is the last Sunday of the Pentecost season. Next week we begin the Advent season, when we read stories that prophesy the coming of Jesus … which we then address during Christmas.
Just as life is a cycle, the Christian calendar passes through seasons … periods of growth and development. We begin a new cycle with the Advent of Christ and we close that cycle with the last Sunday of Pentecost, which is also called Christ the King Sunday.
The cycles appear to be the same, repeating the same themes from a slightly different set of eyes … different prophets prophesying, different authors of important Epistles, and different Gospel perspectives on the life of Jesus Christ. However, there is a difference worth recognizing.
The Year A lectionary is followed by that of Year B, which is then followed by the readings of Year C. The differences symbolize the transitions of life, which parallel the stages of faith development.
As humans we are born, we live, and then we die – or as the Sphinx riddled: We walk on four legs in the morning, two legs in the day, and three legs in the evening. Human life is the same, with differences.
As Christians, we follow this same repeating model, in the sense that we learn, then we mimic what we learned, and then we own the lessons taught us, from the experience of life and from true faith. You can only have ownership through having proved something’s worth and applied that worth to one’s belief system.
Because we are not the focus of faith … God is … the cycle continues. We are supposed to be part of a spread, like the arms of a hurricane sweeping out from the eye, only as a gentle force – not destructive. As such, Christianity grows because there is the force of those who are truly faithful, who move forth to teach the beginning learners.
We are all expected to grow in our faith, just as children are expected to grow into mature adulthood.
Life goes on the same, with slight differences.
That brings us to the aspect of Christ the King, which is recognized on the last Sunday of Pentecost … when the death of a cycle is upon us. We need to understand “Christ the King” in order to continue the cycles of Christianity.
As Americans we have no firsthand experience of living under a king. To us, a king is like a president. To other Westerners, a king is like a prime minister or chancellor. To those in Eastern lands, a king is like a political party or supreme religious leader.
I remember when Jerry Seinfeld was being interviewed about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He was asked about who the possible successor to Queen Elizabeth’s throne would be. He quipped, “Who are these royal people? Who made them royal? Who gave them the right to be rulers?”
This attitude mistakes a king for one who is elected … as one who is chosen due to popularity … as one who is known to be the strongest or richest. To many people like Jerry Seinfeld, a “king” is one who has the majority backing of the people (or the most powerful segment of the people).
We can even see how this attitude was present when Jesus of Nazareth was being tried in Jerusalem, when asked by Pilate, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Pilate was doing his “stand-up comic” routine, when he asked Jesus (tongue in cheek), “I am not a Jew, am I?”
Just as Jerry Seinfeld could not understand what made the kings and queens of England be those simply by birth – because “He was not British, was he?” – Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king; because, if so, he best have the votes and support of a lot of Jews. Otherwise, Caesar’s followers would destroy Jesus and his army of supporters.
Pilate was asking Jesus, “Who are you to make people think you are royal? Who touched you with a sword and made you the highest ruler? Who gave you the right to rule over people who want you dead?”
Now, Pilate was a Roman provincial governor of Judaea, the “fifth perfect” there, serving under Emperor Tiberius. Thus, he was like all of us here (and even Jerry Seinfeld), in the fact that he was not a king. Still, Pilate did not want to kill Jesus and then find out he had stirred a hornet’s nest by doing so. He had to test the claims of others by directly asking Jesus, because a true king would never deny his royal birth status.
He saw a king as not an ordinary kind of guy, not of common birth and origin. We are like that too, when we hear the word “king.” As such, none of us here would ever seriously present ourselves as royalty, deserving of special attention and respect. For Christians, that would be an insult to God … and no one wants to be struck by lightning.
When we rationalize that almost innate sense of commonality we all share, that means we hear the words “Christ the King” and think, “That means I am a subject of Christ as a Christian and Jesus is the king who all Christians serve.”
Unfortunately, thoughts like that are misplaced and wrong.
We become Pilate in the Gospel reading, by making the same common error he made. The Big Brain Syndrome strikes yet again.
The wrong comes from seeing Jesus as an entity that is impossible for us to EVER aspire to be. We immediately shy away from being Jesus, even though we like to pretend we are Christian flies on the wall, watching the scene unfold. As those professing our faith in Jesus Christ, we would NEVER pretend to be the the governor, Pilate; but we are forever rooting for Jesus to convince Pilate that he is indeed a king, only in heaven.
<in tiny, buzzing “fly” voice> “Pppppleeeeeease Pppppilaaaate, beeeeeelieeeeve Jeeeeeesuuuus” we cry out like the little voice in “The Fly” – Vincent Price or Jeff Goldblum versions.
But, Jesus is just like US, as a human being, mortal and made of all the cells of death that common people AND rulers all have. But, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit of God, thus his mind was filled with the arm of God that is the Christ.
Jesus was not the Christ … not the Messiah … per se … as much as the Christ appeared in the form of Jesus. Jesus spoke the words of God, the Father, not the concepts, philosophies and ideas of the common man named Jesus, born in Nazareth to a woman named Mary.
If you remember the movie The Exorcist, the priest called out the spirit who was possessing the girl played by Linda Blair – named Regan. When the demon spoke, it was not speaking the mind of the girl, it was speaking the mind of the possessing spirit.
While exactly opposite – such that Jesus was not possessed against his will, but born into a body with a holy soul completely welcoming the Spirit of Christ to inhabit him – just like the girl, Regan in The Exorcist, Jesus did not respond to Pilate when asked questions.
The Christ spirit spoke through Jesus. “My kingdom is not from here,” said the Messiah of God.
That answer spoke the truth; but Pilate heard “here” and thought “Judaea.” He did not think “here” meant the earthly … a concept exceeding the lands and territories controlled by the Roman Empire. Pilate had no idea that “not from here” meant “not from the material-physical realm,” implying the speaker was from the eternal-spiritual.
Pilate could not fathom that because Jesus stood before him as a human being of common presence. Given the opportunity to place ourselves into that scene, where we would be the one before Pilate, we too would project the same frailties and weaknesses of a humbled human form. No one would ever see us as of royal birth.
Still, when we hear John write in The Revelation, “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before the throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth,” we hear “Jesus Christ” and think, “Jesus is THE ONLY Christ.”
Jesus is the earthly Son of God, as the descendant of Adam. The Christ is the spiritual presence within the body of Jesus, as the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. God is the totality of all that has been created, as the Father of all in heaven and on earth. The Trinity is when the Spiritual (God) is joined with the Material (Son), by the hand of God (the Holy Spirit).
That model means Jesus was the Christ host, just as the disciples would become duplications of the Father-Son-Christ Spirit union. That model means the Apostles became reborn to be just as Jesus ministered in his life. That model means we are also called (regardless of our mortal gender) to fill that position as Son of God.
We must feel the same emotion for God as did David, when he asked, “Is not my house like this with God?” Our “house,” as I addressed a couple of Sundays back, is our “bodies,” as “ourselves” being temples unto the LORD.
In his image we are made, meaning we are made to reflect God’s holiness.
We must then feel the emotion of the words, “[God] has made me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure.”
The alternative is the realization that “the godless are all thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand; to touch them one uses an iron bar of the shaft of a spear.”
When you sense that presence of godless thorns and know that the same godlessness would soon be wrapped around the head of Jesus, mocking him as an earthly king, you can then see why John quoted Daniel 7:13, saying, “Look! He is coming with the clouds.”
That means the Holy Spirit of Christ is coming, but he cannot be seen because he is hidden by clouds … obscured, unseen … as a Spirit.
Still, “Every eye will see him,” which means all who are filled with the Holy Spirit will have human eyes that can see the truth.
As for Pilate and the godless, who are “those who pierced [Jesus],” rather than listen to the holy words Jesus spoke, “on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.”
“So it is to be.” Either you become the SON OF GOD, connecting the circuit of the Trinity, continuing the cycles of faith, or you become “the godless,” by not being linked to God.
We are called to be knighted as the Son, so we have been recognized as allegiant servants to Christ the King. We are called to play the role of Jesus before Pilate.
We are called to sing, just as David wrote in Psalm 132:
“Let your priests be clothed with righteousness; let your faithful people sing with joy.”
We must all be priests of common origin, who have learned from our mistakes, who have become compliant from memorizing external laws set before us, but who have matured to have ownership of God’s ways.
When we recognize Christ the King has a kingdom that controls all of our physical being, from within, then we will be clothed with righteousness. Then the laws of God will be written on our hearts and our mind, through the Holy Spirit of Christ.
Long live Christ the King!
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