Proper 29B (OT 34) Christ the King




298: November 25, 2018


Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

142: November 22, 2015


Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

John 18:33-37

Initial Thoughts

  • Christ the King Sunday

    • Established in 1925 by Pope Pius the 11th in his encyclical Quas Primas in order to:

      1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).

      2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).m

      3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).

    • “Not enough to simply claim that Jesus is your savior, but is Jesus your Lord?” - Tony Campolo

    • What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord and Savior?

  • Connections between readings and Christ the King (Or Reign of Christ)

    • Great misunderstanding about what it means to be Lord or King

      1. misunderstood by the Israelites, misunderstood by Saul, misunderstood by David, misunderstood by the disciples, misunderstood by Pilate

      2. To be King is to be a servant of all

      3. Not about power over, but about power through love and grace

    • “Although the scene from Jesus’ trial before Pilate may seem strangely out of place just before Advent, the confrontation there between the world’s understanding of Pilate and that of Jesus admirably completes this series of texts. Pilate, who thinks he has power, in fact has little, and the power he does have (to put Christ to death) will be overturned. Jesus, who appears utterly powerless, is the only one who knows where power comes from and what it means.” (Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 597)

Bible Study

  • Classic hellenistic battle of wits between Jesus and Pilate:

    • Are you the King of the Jews? - Do you ask this on your own or did others tell you about me?

      • Are you really in charge or are you acting on behest of someone(s) else?

      • Pilate admits that he is not really in charge- he is acting on the wishes of others- he is “powerless” (not really though, he is just a coward)

    • What have you done? - Jesus refuses to answer

      • The kingdom of God is what matters, not earthly kings

    • So you are a King? - You say that I am

      • For the third time Jesus refuses to directly answer but instead redirects to the Kingdom of God

  • V. 37 - Jesus’ response

    • “You say that I am king.” is separate from what comes afterward: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

    • For this I was born is not connected to the king discussion but to the truth.

  • Truth

    • Not about the black-white or right-wrong authoritarian notion of truth but rather a way of being and living in the world

    • Pilate thinks of truth in terms of what is empirically or rationally correct whereas Jesus reveals the truth of the Kingdom of God which is typically irrational and culminating, but not yet fully realized.

      • Pilate: truth as intellectual understanding

      • Jesus: truth as revelation

    • Jesus’ entire ministry is about revealing the true nature of the world

    • Dorothy Soelle, Beyond Mere Obedience

      • Discerning obedience: "an obedience which has its eyes wide open, which first discovers God's will in the situation."

      • Emilie Townes, Feasting on the Word, [For Soelle] “freedom, change, and spontaneity coalesce so that we not only accept responsibility for the world around us but seek to be a part of God's transformation of the world. Freedom, restored through the liberatory power of Jesus, begins this process for Soelle. The power we need to change things is found in spontaneity that then inspires new freedom. In discerning obedience, we practice freedom daily through seeking to understand and live anew the truth found in Christ, which sets us free to discover God's will in a future that is open to possibilities.”

  • Christ as King

    • To declare a king is to acknowledge belonging to a certain tribe, group or clan - think Lions and Wolves in Game of Thrones

    • When we claim Christ as King it is not as groveling peasants but a declaration that we belong to Christ and Christ’s words hold authority for us

    • Claiming Christ as King says that Christ’s truth (forgive, love, share) is our truth

Thoughts and Questions

  • How can we invite people into a relationship with Jesus as Lord? That is to say Jesus as the authoritative figure in their lives. Not an overbearing oppressor but one who “speaks with authority”

  • In the era of fake news, the battle of free press, and political debate, the issue of truth seems to be heightened. Much can be said about what is or is not true. How do sources of truth shape our worldview and values? How can we have this conversation without denigrating others? How can we invite people into discerning what the truth is that Jesus reveals?

Revelation 1:4-8

Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • John of Patmos

    • Most likely not the same as the Gospel writer

      • Greek is very different

      • Theology is very different- especially Christology

        • John- Jesus = the Divine Word

        • Rev. - Jesus = first born of the dead, but is subjugated to God

        • Rev. - Jesus is the inheritor of God, the successor, but not equal

  • Message of hope

    • The worldly powers? They will not have the last word

    • Crying, death and oppression - won’t have the last word

    • Spending a ridiculous amount of energy on red cups while 9 year old children are being executed - will not be the last word

    • the Word will have the last word. The Word which is welcome, forgiveness, grace and love is built into the very essence of creation (John 1)- Alpha and will continue through to the end - Omega - despite appearances.

  • The return of Jesus- coming in clouds

    • Jesus will return in the same way he departed

    • Daniel 7:13 -  As I continued to watch this night vision of mine, I suddenly saw one like a human being coming with the heavenly clouds. He came to the ancient one and was presented before him.

    • Zechariah 12:10 - but I will pour out a spirit of grace and mercy on David's house and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They will look to me concerning the one whom they pierced; they will mourn over him like the mourning for an only child. They will mourn bitterly over him like the bitter mourning over the death of an oldest child.

    • Wailing - despair, judgment in the face of the change that Jesus will bring

  • The Seven Churches of Asia Minor

    • Named later in chapter 2

    • Perhaps representative of all the churches in Asia minor

    • Declaration that God’s authority (not Rome’s) is ultimate - throne of God, Alpha and Omega, etc

  • Culmination of the Good News: Christ is Lord, the beginning, the ending and all that is

  • What does it mean to declare that Christ is alpha and omega?

    • Call back to YAHWEH- I am that I am, I was who I was and I will be who I will be

    • Eternal, but not transcendent instead incarnate and in relationship with us

  • God - the one who is and who was and who is to come - echoes Exodus 3:14

    • God of salvation and liberation

    • Also not a one-and-done event

    • God continues to lead God’s people and call them back to faithfulness for generations

  • The work of Christ is not done yet

    • Interpreting the past, present and future in light of Christmas, Cross, and Easter

      • Christ has died- Christ is risen- Christ will come again

    • Christ’s birth, life and death is not a one-and-done kind of event, but part of a continual unfolding of God’s redemptive work bringing all of Creation into the Kingdom of Justice and Peace

    • God is the first and the last- and the last hasn’t come yet

    • God has done this, God is doing this, God will do this

  • “Eastertide is not the eschaton, and the meaning of Easter is not the elimination of suffering.” - Lauren Winner Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

Thoughts and Questions

  • What is the ongoing work of Easter (redemption, triumph of life over death, etc.) in your congregation?

  • Explore with your church what God is and will do. What Does proclaiming God as Alpha and Omega say about the political season? Fear and anxiety? About pride?

  • Easter is not the end, but the beginning - how does the church live into Easter?

    • If Jesus’ resurrection and second coming are “visible, decisive, and world changing” then how is that embodied in the church?

  • Proclaim Eastertide! Easter is not only one day, but every Sunday!

Every day is Easter

When Thomas touched the wounds

and set himself free

it was Easter day

When Peter’s three “yes’s” to Jesus

finished his three denials

it was Easter day

When Mary ready to embalm the dead

ran in fear from the empty tomb

it was Easter day

When the disciples looked from afar

at a breakfast of fish on the beach

it was Easter day

When Emmaus became synonymous with welcome

and the breaking of bread with strangers

it was Easter day

When Paul was blinded by the light

and recognised the voice niggling in his head

it was Easter day

When the hungry are fed at the table

the same table as the rich

it is Easter day

When weapons are beaten to ploughshares

and peace is a word to be shouted

it is Easter day

When the stranger is welcomed in community

and the lonely are restored to relationship

it is Easter day...

2 Samuel 23:1-7

Initial Thoughts

  • David’s last words, except they aren’t

    • Chapter 24 is the story of David taking a census

    • 1 Kings starts with David alive

    • His last words were actually to Solomon, telling him to kill all his enemies.

    • Perhaps even in his two sets of “Last Words” we see the competing ideas of who David is. Man of God and Shrewd Ruler.

Bible Study

  • Intro

    • David self-identifies as:

      • Son of Jesse

      • Man raised high

      • Anointed by God of Jacob

      • Favored by the strong one of Israel

      • “The Lord’s spirit speaks through me; his word is on my tongue.

      • David is someone God has lifted up anointed, and is now prophet.

  • Right Rule = Godly Rule

    • Rule with the fear of God. Result is:

    • Qualities of a Good King: 1. Righteous, 2. Fear God, 3. End of list

      • “The first word, righteousness, lies at the very heart of what it means to be a follower of YHWH. As Amos so memorably puts it: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a perennial stream" (Amos 5:24). That prophet contrasts his people's desire for showy worship with God's desire instead for a community characterized by equality, fairness, concern for the other, especially those on the margin. And what is true for every Israelite follower of YHWH is doubly true for the king.” (John Holbert, Patheos)

      • The second word/phrase is "fear of God." We are often quick to say that this Hebrew word does not really mean "terror," or "to be fearful" in ways we often use the word. But surely the word does include some of that in its meaning. "Fear" can mean "worship" or "awe," but included in both those translations is some sense of being afraid, afraid of disappointing, afraid of transgressing, or afraid merely of standing in the presence of such a God. (John Holbert, Patheos)

      • Righteousness - Accountable to people.

      • Fear of God - Accountable to God.

    • Light of sunrise on a morning with no clouds, like the bright gleam after the rain that brings grass from the ground.

      • A good King is life-giving as the sun and rain.

  • Eternal Covenant

    • Is David’s covenant conditional? What does Kingship mean?

      • David’s dynasty did not last two generations. By the time his son is dead, the kingdom is divided. Jerusalem’s centricity is challenged. Within 500 years, both kingdoms are destroyed.

      • Song itself provides an out - the “despicable people are like thorns, all of them good for nothing… They must be burned up with fire on the spot.” David’s covenant is to last only as he rules rightly over his people, and rules with the fear of God.

      • God gives victories, and causes the wicked to lose. It seems to suggest that the God who gives David victory can also withhold hit from later generations.

      • Kingship is conditional on God’s will

  • Compared to Hannah’s Song (at opening of 1 Samuel and last week)

    • Hannah’s Song

      • No one is holy like God

      • There is no rock like our God

      • Bows of warriors shattered

      • God raises poor from the dust

      • His enemies are terrified

    • David’s Latter Words

      • Compares God to a rock.

      • King is life giving

      • God gives King victories

      • Wicked are despised and left untouchable or destroyed by God.

Thoughts and Questions

  • Three motifs make up the Royal Theology. (Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation: Samuel,  p. 347):

    • God’s sovereign power

    • God’s moral expectation

    • God’s abiding fidelity

  • These are the motifs upon which the Kingship of Christ are built. They are not dependent upon the times. These are eternal truths that are not bound by current political machinations or war games. David, who is anointed by God (or messiah or Christ) lays the foundation upon which Jesus’ kingship is built.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.