This was the cry of many Hispanic martyrs put before firing squads by socialist dictators.
“Long live Christ the King!“
I thoroughly agree with all that Chalcedon said in his reflections Sunday. While he writes from his Catholic perspective, I find them valid for us all. Is there any amongst us whose church doesn’t have similar problems?
But for us, as for the Catholics, last Sunday was Christ the King, and it is perhaps happenstance that we have been speaking recently of the two kingdoms, or perhaps it is not. One thing we do know is who reigns and rules in both Kingdoms. The reading Sunday was Luke 23:33-43, and I want to emphasize a bit of it.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
If you can’t see yourself in the first thief, well I surely can in my mirror.
On this Last Sunday of the Church Year, the Day of Fulfillment, the focus of our readings is “Christ the King.” In Jeremiah 23 God denounced the kings of Judah as “shepherds” who had scattered God’s sheep. But God also promised to “raise up for David a righteous Branch,” who “shall reign as king and deal wisely.”
In Luke 23 we see how this King would be revealed to the world: dying on the cross for the sins of the world. How hidden from the world is the wisdom of God! It is seen only by faith. The hostile religious leaders sneered and scoffed: “A Messiah (the long-promised King) who can’t save himself!” The pagan soldiers mockingly challenged him to save himself. Pontius Pilate wrote a contemptuous yet official (and profoundly true!) superscription, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals derisively called for proof of his messiahship. But the other thief, admitting his guilt, looked to the tortured, dying Jesus and by faith saw Him for who He was: the King who could save him. And Jesus promised that he would be with Him in paradise today. Jesus is the the merciful King who forgives even those killing Him and grants eternal life to a repentant sinner.
Still Christ our King comes among us, bringing the reign of God into our ordinary lives; not in dazzling spectacle but in the ordinary things He has commanded and in which He promised to be present to forgive, save, and give life: water, word, bread, and wine.
One day, at Jesus’ second appearing, the veil will be lifted and Christ the King’s reign will no longer be hidden to human eyes, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11). But for the time being the same Lord Jesus Christ brings the reign of God to us in humble ways, and looking to Christ Crucified we can joyfully say: “This is my King.”