The Eternal Reign
A priest got news about an hour before worship that king Louis XIV of France would be present. He decided to ditch his well prepared sermon and to speak on the virtues of the king. After the service he was expecting to get some kind of recognition for what he said about the king, but there was no comment made. The following week, he received a letter from the palace. With eagerness he opened the envelope. Would it be a word of appreciation from the king or even better...could there be a contribution to the church? But instead it was a word of rebuke. The king wrote, “When you preach about a king always look at the crucifix to your right...and remember Jesus Christ. He is the only King worth mentioning in church.”
Today on Christ The King Sunday the Christian Faith celebrates the wonderful reality of a kingdom and the Name of the King that lasts forever and ever. That’s what the angel Gabriel who appeared to the Virgin Mary spoke about. He told her that she was going to give birth to a son, and look at how this Son is described in Luke 1: 32&33, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” The angel's reference to Jesus as the Eternal King was the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied - “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” Isaiah 9: 7b.
O my friends, far above and beyond any dynasty that this world has seen and what is presently in place there is the eternal throne of Jesus Christ. There were so many who came into power and claimed that theirs was a kingdom to continue forever – that it would be passed on down the line, but they all failed. Their thrones and crowns have gathered up dust and their palaces have been made into ruins. That's why Psalm 146: 3&4 give us the warning “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” There is one throne in heaven that is eternal, with the eternal King on it. He left that throne for a while when He came to this world to become one of us. And He was still the King of all kings when He made Himself lower than the lowest slave. In the season of Advent which begins next Sunday, we again will pause and think that God came to us in Jesus and made us a part of His kingdom.
The first thing we notice from Luke 1: 26-38 is that 1 His Eternal Reign Was Hidden. During His time on earth Jesus gave every proof that He was a King. He would heal people, raise the dead; made a few loaves of bread and 2 fish into a meal for more than 5000 people. Yes, if anyone ever deserved the title king, it was our King Jesus. But our Lord came to hide His glory. He didn't insist on a palace that wouldn't even come close to the comfort and prestige of His heavenly realms. No, He wanted to be the unseen King for people to discover. He hid His glory in the Virgin Mary – He didn't have heralds come down from heaven with a fanfare to announce the coming of the most prominent Person in the history of the world. And then for the King of heaven to come down in His majesty and glory. No, God chose a peasant girl to bear His Son. No one would have ever guessed that she was carrying the King of kings Who would reign forever! On Christmas Eve, God hid His glory in a feeding trough. I know, we all want to say, “Manger - that just sounds better.” There Christ laid – the Commander and Chief of the army of angels. And years later, God hid His glory on a cross. No one would have ever guessed that the man hanging on the middle cross was the Son of the Most High, God Himself. And when He gave up His Spirit the confession came, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” That famous confession from the Roman Centurion in fact said, “Truly, this man is the Eternal King.” God made him to discover Who His Son was, the One they brutally killed.
God still hides His glory today. People want to see extraordinary things. They want God to show the world a thing or two. If only there can be something happening which is above the world and a voice could speak from a cloud or fire like in the Old Testament, then the whole world would bow down before God. But our God is a God Who hides His glory. He tells the world that He could be found in places least expected – a humble hut in a remote village. There where an ordinary woman living by herself bows in prayer before the God of heaven and earth. It's there where she discovered Him. I honestly believe that the Eternal Reign of Christ is still to be discovered by many in the world.
We see in Luke 1: 34 that 2 The Eternal Reign Of Christ Is Questioned. Here was a young woman who had the most extraordinary experience any one could ever have. A visitor came from heaven and he spoke with authority. What he spoke should have been received without any doubt. But Mary reacted like any other normal person. She went with what was reality to her – to conceive a child asked for the involvement of a man and a woman. So when she heard that she was going to be the mother of “...the Son of the Most High...” she responded in honesty, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” But Mary did something more than just looking at the facts. She questioned the Eternal Reign of God. Without anything wicked in her heart and disrespect in the way she responded, she in fact asked the question if God really could bring about what His angel just communicated to her. Mary didn't refuse to make herself available. She just wanted the angel to know - as much as she wanted to be the chosen one for this task, she just couldn't see how this was going to work.” Let's be honest – is the Eternal Reign of Christ still questioned? We have to say yes, because there are so many voices going up in this world saying how much God is not in control, how much God can't make a difference any more. Just this past week someone commented, “Well, it seems things are beyond God's control. We are still in a world pandemic, then came excruciating heat with field fires and now floods and mudslides hit our province. How can God's reign still be in place?” Never my friends, never can that thought be in the heart or mind of any person. If you met Jesus Christ, the Saviour and King of the world, you will believe that He reigns forever above the ruins of this world.
Luke gives us the wonderful reality – 3 The Power Of The Holy Spirit Affirms The Reign of Christ In People's Lives. We read in verse 35, “The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” And it happened just as we confess in the Apostles' Creed – “...conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the Virgin Mary.” That mystery many through the ages couldn't comprehend came into place just as the angel told Mary. The Eternal Reign of Christ didn't depend on the role of a man – it was God Himself Who secured that. How? We don't have the answer, but in faith we believe unconditionally that God placed His Son in the womb of a woman through His Spirit. And you know just when people feel that God just isn't in control anymore, His Spirit open their hearts and minds and remove all resistance and unbelief. Yes, in the midst of disasters and tragedies; in the midst of turmoil and pain; in the midst of deception and hatred, our God reigns. If that wasn't true we would not have been here. What we see in our world can never be an indicator that He isn't in control – it's just showing how bad things are because He isn't accepted as King in people's lives.
Let's rejoice this morning that our King reigns and at the end of time every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord to the glory of God.