Keep Us Joyful in Christ Our King
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of End Time—Christ the King.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
The almighty King of the universe, in his great love, laid down his life for his people. The Lord of all things allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, and crucified for his subjects. Then with his resurrection from the dead, he demonstrated his true power and glory as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
First Lesson – Ezekiel 34:11-16,23,24
In the verses that directly precede this lesson, God rebukes the shepherds—the kings, leaders, and priest of Israel—for not taking care of his sheep. According to God, our Shepherd-King, how will he deal with his sheep?
He promises to seek out and rescue the lost, to gather his sheep from every nation, to provide for all their needs, and to strengthen them when they are weak.
These verses were written hundreds of years after the reign of King David. So, who is the “servant David” that God would raise up to rule over his people?
This is a prophecy about the coming Messiah. God had promised that a descendant of David would rise up to sit on his throne. The Messiah would be the greatest king in the history of Israel. Jesus, a blood descendant of King David, is that king. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Explain the comparison between Adam and Christ in these verses.
Through Adam and Eve’s sin, all mankind fell and became subject to death. We are born dead spiritually. We will all face physical death someday. Because of our sins, we all deserve eternal death in hell. But in Jesus, we have been made alive. With his suffering and death, the payment of sin was made. His resurrection is proof that we too will be raised and will live forever with him in heaven.
Evaluate. Verse 28 is telling us that Jesus is somehow inferior to God the Father.
Verse 28 is a difficult verse. The Bible states clearly in many places that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal in power, glory, and authority. (See John 10:30.) No one is superior to the other. However, Jesus humbled himself to come to earth and obey the will of his Father. (See John 14:28.) How can this be? As Professor Carleton Toppe once wrote: “Such is the mystery and wonder of the Trinity and of the God-man Jesus Christ” (The People’s Bible: 1 Corinthians, p. 148).
Gospel – Matthew 27:27-31
How did the King of kings show his love for us his subjects?
Our King did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus showed his love for us in this: that as King of the universe, he allowed himself to be mocked and tortured by a handful of ignorant unbelieving soldiers. In love, he allowed himself to suffer the physical agony of the cross. In love, he willingly suffered the punishment of sin in our place. Our King truly deserves our honor, service, and praise!
How can this scene make us rejoice?
The scene would seem like bad satire if not for its sad reality. Petty little men in a tiny little fortress bully the One who created light from darkness and divided land from sea. He deserved the finest crown, but look what man gave! He deserved the noblest scepter, but look what man handed him! He deserved the sincerest devotion, but look what man offered! He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. The King of heaven came to earth, and look at what man gave him! He could have swept them all away; he could have condemned us like he had the fallen angels. Man deserved nothing more but look at what he gave! He gave his holiness for our sin and his death for our life. This scene is joyful because we know how it ends. The picture of our King wearing a crown of thorns is not tragic, but rather it is full of grace. Rejoice in Christ the King who came as our sacrifice!