This is a special Sunday, a High Holy Day. If you didn’t know about this Sunday, don’t feel too out of place. “Christ the King Sunday” or “Reign of Christ Sunday” is something that many Churches have been ignored.
How do you picture Jesus? As the Good Shepard of Ezekiel? As a friend of children? The one who stills the storm? The one who heals? The teacher? Do you often picture Jesus as the Judge?
We don’t often imagine Jesus as judge. Perhaps that’s why we don’t often name our churches “Judging Jesus Holy Church”. We think of Jesus as a good friend, as redeemer, as the one who affirms us, but rarely do we think of Jesus as judge.
Possibly we do not speak of Jesus this way because “Jesus as judge” is connected almost exclusively with today’s scripture; the Last Judgment. And the last judgment is something that many people in our time find incomprehensible or offensive. That some would find themselves cast into hell seems inconsistent with a loving God.
However this scripture passage was chosen for this Sunday primarily BECAUSE of recent generation’s hellish experience. This Sunday, “Christ the King Sunday”, was created by the Church just 60-80 years ago.
The text calls us to be, a people who are awake! Eyes open! The first commandment of Jesus is to “be not afraid.”, for if we fear others we will avoid loving them, but perhaps there is something as important. That is being able to see. That is why the Bible tells us that we are blind.
Jesus said, “Those who say they see are blind. And those who say they are blind, see.” There is a prayer, from Singapore “Forgive us Lord when we only see ourselves.” To know you are blind is to begin to see. But then how do the blind see.
Jesus’ judgement shows us the way to see. Those churches who are judged as goats and cast out of God’s kingdom are ones who don’t see Jesus in the poor and the outcast. “When did we see you suffering?” “When did we see you naked?” “When were you a criminal in prison?”
It is interesting that the sheep, the righteous ones, they also don’t see Jesus. These Churches who do good to the hungry and care for the needy, notice that they don’t say, “Amen, Jesus.
Jesus is, the truly human one who sees with love and rules with love. Not the one who sees the suffering of the world and seeks to escape to a distant Heaven. No, this Jesus brings Heaven to the Earth.
The one who rules us, if we will let him, does so not from a distance powerful throne on clouds, away from the pain and terror, but is one who rules amid the suffering on a cross shaped throne. This is the King who enters INTO hell to claim the lost and even call the sinner to share in his cross shaped mission as a beloved friend.
And, God knows that a people of the cross are so much needed in our world in where fear of terror seems to be ruling. However, fear not, and see that there is much Good News in today’s text. A final judgment is coming, and may it come soon. For Christ’s judgment will cast out fear, and war, and terror, and poverty, and inhumanity.
And because that day is surely coming, we can continue to live our lives with hope. Having children and baptizing them into the mission of Christ, sharing with them the stories and the life of faith, so they might tell others that there is indeed a leader who is worthy to give our true allegiance to.
And we may face death with hope, knowing that it is Jesus Christ who will complete the work of the Church and the mission of the Kingdom of God, and that one day, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be raised imperishable, to share in a new Heaven and a New Earth.
For we have faith in the one with the nail pierced hands and feet who walks among those who suffer, pouring out a promise made in his blood, that all of the creation will be set free from slavery to fear and death. Believe in Jesus the Christ, our Judge and our Hope!