Jeremiah 23: 2-6
Psalm 95: 1-7
Colossians 1: 13-20
St. Luke 23: 35-43
“A King Like No Other”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
During the Nazi era, many Germans abandoned faith in Jesus Christ as they joined the Socialist movement that was rising throughout the lands. As they left Christianity for National Progressivism or Fascism, they laughed in the face of Jesus. For you see, the rising powers of the new regime lauded Jesus as a weak spineless person who lost to the first Reich. Jesus didn’t command an army, nor spoke bold strength, but rather spoke in terms of love and gentleness. Jesus wasn’t some mighty force as the Christians confess to believe but was an ineffective water flea; an insignificant maggot that disparate know nothing Jews utilized to create a false religion founded on useless hope. Jesus was so ineffective that the domesticated Pharisees, who can’t hold a candle to the might of Rome, was capable of getting him hung on a cross.
The disrespect from the Nazis was nauseating as they piled filth on top of the Holy Church. They looked at the cross with distain and used their governing authority to target any Lutheran Church that would dare stand up to the Party in the name of Christ. Big Brother Government was God, and no King on Earth or in this “supposed” Heaven will dominate the power of the 3rd Reich. Eventually many Lutherans were thrown into the reeducation camps.
So in response to this growing movement known as Socialism, and all its seasick rot, the Church at large created a new holiday for the church calendar. The Roman Catholics, the Augustinian Catholics (Lutherans), the Orthodox Catholics, the Anglo Catholics (Anglicans), and many others united against the Nazis as they as one preached unanimously of the Kingship of our Lord and Savior. Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the church calendar was a direct response to rampant Socialism. And even in this Church, for Christ the King Sunday, you see on the white linen covering the altar the words in bold red, “Jesus is Lord.”
Jesus is Lord. Nothing on earth can change nor hide the reality of Jesus’ royal divinity. On top of that, Jesus is not just some mere lord, someone unaffiliated to us who so happens to have a rank, but is our Lord. Jesus is our Lord. He is our King. He is our Prince of Peace. He is the one whom we ultimately answer to.
In all reality, that is why the Nazis, and the authoritarian Socialist states that came after such the CCP, cannot stand the presence of Christians. We have a higher power that we answer to which trumps any fealty we may have with the state. No king on earth will ever be able to truly demand more love or adoration or obedience out of us than what we give towards Jesus our Lord. We love Jesus more than any human or human made philosophy. We obey Jesus more than any leader or government. We respect Jesus more than any human-made role or judgement. The real reason why the Nazis hated Jesus is because He was in their way. Yes they laughed at Him and falsely labeled Him as weak, but all of this was to disguise their fear of Jesus and the divine might that is behind His Word.
They, like all other totalitarian maniacs that came before them, attacked Christianity because they knew that if we had to pick between God and politics, then we would always choose God. Why? Because He is our Lord and our King.
Yet what is so interesting is that the arguments of the Nazis and all the other socialists are quiet similar to the arguments made by the Pharisees. The Pharisees wanted mighty political King of the lineage of David who commanded an undefeatable army to rise up suddenly through the grace of God against the Romans who ruled over Israel. They, and many Jews, misunderstood Scripture to mean that the coming Messiah was going to be a political figure and was going to reestablish Israel as the mighty earthly kingdom forevermore. They had earthly grandeur in their eyes, and couldn’t see the reality of Jesus’ true might. To them He was no powerful charismatic figure that could trample the Roman Armies. Instead, he was meek and kind, though at times understandably wrathful and downright rude. He commanded no army, so he was a fake. Therefore they snatched Him in the middle of the night and on the next morning crucified Him as they laughed and mocked Him for dare claiming He was a king.
The Nazis mocked Jesus the same way the Pharisees mocked Jesus. The Nazis and the Pharisees couldn’t stand the sight of Jesus, and their desire for might guided them towards persecution.
In their insistence to rid themselves of this weakling of a false messiah, they nailed Jesus to a tree. The Roman Soldiers mocked Jesus and had a sign that wrote “King of the Jews” above His head. Little did they know how right they were. And to make the point even more nauseatingly obvious, the Soldiers and people proceeded to slander His good name with phrases such as, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One,” and, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself,” and a criminal, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” And almost as if His suffering was proof of their right to mock Jesus they continued to harass their one and only true king. Jesus didn’t fight back; He took every insult and every punishment. The mob took this as justification for their malice. They thought Jesus was weak and had given up, but their eyes were too clouded to see the reality that faced them.
In our Gospel only one person had the fear of God, and that was a criminal also nailed to a cross. He who knew he deserved death, saw an innocent man being berated by all around him. He saw a crowd of sinners attacking their God, and he was terrified of what God the Father might do to them. As for his fate, he was ready, so he looked upon his Lord and King simply asking for remembrance. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And in response, Jesus proved his might and authority which can overcome sin and death by proclaiming to the criminal what can only be aptly described as an act of God, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It wasn’t until after Jesus died and the skies turned black and the earth shook and the curtain of the temple torn in two and many rose from the grave that the despair in knowing what they had done suck in. A mortified centurion present for the public mocking and crucifixion uttered to God, “Certainly this man was innocent!” As for the Jews present, I cannot imagine the horror on their face when they realize that they just murdered their Messiah.
Now all is not lost, and we know this for certain; for our King is not like other Kings, and or Kingdom is not like other Kingdoms, and the war we fight is not like other wars. Yes Jesus is mightiest of all Kings, but not by human standards but by divine standards. He is the King of Kings from which all authority stems. If He liked He could have just annihilated the Roman Army and dismantled Caesar’s throne with a snap, but He is not like other kings. Kings conquer with armies. Jesus conquers by turning the hearts of humans. Kings sends mighty forces to take land. Jesus sends messengers of His word whether human or angel to spread His Kingdom through the Word. Kings command others die to protect themselves. Jesus died to protect everyone.
Jesus is not like other kings, He is far more powerful. He does have to use the power of the sword to spread His Kingdom, He just wills it so.
And His Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. Kingdoms on earth come and go, but Christ’s Kingdom never goes away and is constantly growing, even pass the limits of this earthly plane. Earthly Kingdoms have criminals and must use fear to curb crime. Christ is so mighty that His Kingdom is void of sin completely, not on account of fear but grace. On Earth we starve and suffer want, but in Christ’s Kingdom there is no need to worry about such things for Christ is the Living Bread through whom you will never thirst nor hunger.
And war; the war we fight is radically different than the wars fought by earthly kings. Whereas military Soldiers use blades and bullets to kill the enemy, Christians Soldiers wield the Word of God on our lips to save our enemies. Whereas the wars countries fight is against men. The war Christ has already won is against the Devil and his entire army of demons. You claim my Lord is weak, did your little earthly king defeat the most powerful immortal force of evil and an entire spiritual army with not a single casualty (Christ rose from the grave)? No? I think not! My King is not like your King. He died for me, rose for me, lives eternally for me, and has given to me Heaven. This is why Jesus is my Lord. This is why I will worship Him to the end of my days. This is why nothing on earth will ever trump by love, fear, and obedience to Jesus.
And to the ones who may desire to test my metal, whether it be Nazi or Pharisee, or even the Devil himself, try me. Our Lord is strong, and is with us, and can never be defeated.
Let us pray,
Dear Heaven Father, when the earthly and demonic forces attack us and our divine citizenship, give us the strength to stand firm in your Word, bolding proclaiming that we serve first as servants of the Lord. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.