Last Sunday of the Church Year (B), November 22nd, 2015
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego, CA
“”Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” [John 18:36]
On December 7, 1941, a quiet naval harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese military. After several years of sitting out the war, that was enough to propel our great nation into action. We were at war, and we would defeat the enemy at all costs!
On September 11, 2001 our nation was attacked on three different fronts, by a loose but large confederation of Islamic terrorist known as Al Qaeda. That was enough to begin a war on all terrorist who pose a threat against our country, and indeed democracy throughout the world. Our nation, once again has vowed to win that war at all costs, and even now, that war rages on throughout the world against the same enemy, but now preferring to be called ISIS.
And yet, in our gospel reading, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who alone is our true and eternal King, was about to be brutally beaten and crucified at the hands of an occupying terrorist force in Palestine, known as the Roman Empire. Where was the outrage? Where was the beating of war drums? Why would God the Father allow this to happen? Jesus gives the answer: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
What does that mean? Well simply put, like our King Jesus we do not find our identity here, but in Him we live, breathe, and find our being. We know that in this world of sin, we will find suffering just as our King found suffering. We have learned to accept this truth as our reality while we wait patiently for our King to return. And while we wait, we are not a threat to this physical world.
We live in this world, but we are not of this world. We obey the law, we pay taxes, we do many works of charity, and we give large sums of money to work towards peace in this world, and yet, we suffer for the good we do. Why do we accept this as our reality? Because we know that the time is coming when our true King will come in power for us to make all things new and right, but we also know that He is coming to judge the unfaithful and punish sin.
Until the day of our Lord arrives, we are simply to wait; we are to do nothing disruptive, but simply wait and behave as good citizens under whatever government we find ourselves in. Are we doing anything to prepare for our King Jesus’ return? Are we preparing by committing acts of sedition? No! Are we working to undermine the authority of our rulers? NO! So what are we doing?
We are praying, “Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So, is prayer all that we do to prepare for Christ kingdom? Certainly not; you see we also speak God’s Word, which is God’s power, or God’s means in both opening the gates to Christ Kingdom and closing them to those who rebel against His Kingdom; those who prefer to reject Christ and His Kingdom of grace, will be forever banned from His Kingdom of glory, and instead they will be forever banished into an eternal internment camp, built by the Power of God to forever separate unrepentant rebels from God’s children of faith.
The Kingdom of God is here with us right now; we call it His Kingdom of Grace, but His Kingdom is not yet complete. On the great and terrible day that it comes in full, it will come with power, great power that will not only topple all earthly kingdoms, but it will also destroy both the earth and heaven together. And when it comes, it will usher in a new heaven and earth that will be one under the rule of the Son of God, King Jesus Christ.
Now, as Isaiah reported in our Old Testament reading, our King has set His Word as a true source of justice and divine light for all of the people of the world. It’s righteousness draws nearer every day as His Holy Gospel is proclaimed throughout the world. He has prepared those who will hear His Word to respond to that Word of forgiveness; that is why Isaiah was compelled to write that “the coastlands hope for (their King). [Isaiah 51:4-5] And what we hope for is what we wait for; so we can say that the Kingdom of Jesus, that is His Kingdom of Power is not yet.
And this is where people who are not God’s children of faith have a problem. They have a problem because they will not look up to heaven for answers.
The Kingdom of Power is coming whether you believe in it or not; whether you hope for it or not. The day is coming when the heavens will vanish like smoke and the earth will wear out like a garment, and all will die and all will come back to life. The only question really is, after you die and you are returned to life, where will you spend eternity. And what will answer that question will be the kingdom you are trusting and resting in.
You dear saints, who are resting in the Kingdom of Grace, Christ’s Kingdom are also pursuing righteousness. You are seeking God’s Kingdom and waiting for it to come in power. But waiting in the Kingdom of grace and pursuing that Kingdom of power isn’t easy; in fact it’s impossible without faith.
As we live here in this world of sin, we soon discover that there is very little grace shown to us, and the power we experience seems to be evil and working against the good we try to do. At best here in this world, we seem to have fleeting moments of happiness, but they elude us so quickly and then we fall to sin ourselves and collapse again in guilt, fear, and doubt. We can become frustrated when we discover, that we can’t simply take off our sinful nature and hang it up in the closet or throw it in the trash.
So what are we to do? Well listen of course. We are to hear the word of God and pay attention to it. Listen: “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation (of faith); for a law will go out from me (to you).” What law? The law of grace that can come only through your King of Grace, Jesus Christ.
You see, God knows that you are but flesh; He knows that in your sinfulness, you cannot come into His Kingdom of Grace, so in His Word, He brings that Kingdom to you. What word is that? The Word about Jesus your King; His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is that Word that has been sent out and found you. It is a Word of forgiveness.
Grace to you… grace for you… grace, which is yours right now, if you see a need for it; if you want to be in God’s Kingdom.
God’s unmerited love is yours right now through Jesus who loves you and has set you free from your sins by His blood shed upon the cross. He has done all of the work and simply calls you to come and rest in His kingdom of grace and pursue every day His Kingdom of Power. You pursue His Kingdom of Power as His priests as you do the good He desires and as you go about proclaiming the message of His Kingdom of Grace; the message of your God and Father. And the life we live here in the kingdom of man we live while waiting for the Kingdom of Christ. And the life that we live is how we give glory to God the Father of our King Jesus, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. [Revelations 1:4-8]
At least every Sunday we pray, “Thy Kingdom come” in the Lord’s prayer. What does it mean then to pray those words?
God’s kingdom comes all by itself without our prayer, right? So why must we pray those words? So that His kingdom would be so great within us and among us that others would know that there is a God in Heaven. We pray those words so that we will be the type of child that not only lives in His kingdom but also helps to make that kingdom grow among us! How does that Kingdom grow among us? Through the message from and about our King Jesus, and that message, is the good news that God sent his Son, Christ our Lord, into this sinful world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, to bring us to himself, and to rule us as our King of righteousness. In this kingdom we are given life, and salvation against sin, death, and the devil. It is this message alone that keeps us in His kingdom and delivers His Holy Spirit to us in power, so that we may have faith to continually be saved by his holy Word and Sacraments. These are the only means God has provided to save us and deliver us safely into His Kingdom.
When we talk about God’s Kingdom, when we pray that God would help us rest in His kingdom, we are really asking God to help us praise His name and live a Christian life. We ask this so that those of us who have already entered into the kingdom of grace may remain faithful and grow daily in it and also so that God may use us to help others enter it, and together we may all remain eternally in His kingdom that He has now begun in us and among us!
“The coming of God’s kingdom to us” then takes place in two ways: first, it comes here, in time, through the Word and faith, and second, it comes in eternity, with the end of days. It comes in great power and might, and it is the only way that you can enter the kingdom of God.
Christ has done all of the work. He has given to you His Holy gospel so that you may hear and believe through His gift of faith. He has washed you clean in the waters of your baptism. Not only has he stripped you of your sinful and soiled nature, but he has given you a new nature; a robe of righteousness, which is the very nature of your King Jesus. And what’s more is, He invites you to come to His holy table to have communion with Him and all of the saints that have gone before you. He asks you to dine on His very body and blood for the continued forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of your faith. And all that He asks of you is that you continue to use these things every day and trust in them alone.
Oh yes, there is one more thing He asks of you. He asks that you pray to Him in Heaven that He would continue to keep His name and you holy, and He asks that you pray that His Kingdom would come soon in power and might.
Will you remember to pray that Christ’s Kingdom would come soon? Will you look forward to that Kingdom and let all that is within you work towards ushering in that Kingdom first in you then around you?
I pray that God would continually move our hearts to always ask for His kingdom to come among us. I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!