Jesus will reign. That’s the conviction behind the tragic, bloody story of the cross. Yet there is more. It’s not just that Jesus will sit on a throne in the end. Rather, it’s the nature of that reign that we address. Sure, Jesus is King. But it’s the peculiar matter of Jesus’ kingdom that is so remarkable. Lord Jesus is not content to be our close friend. He wants more than to be our savior. Jesus demands to be our sovereign, commanding king.
What a king! And what a kingdom! In yesterday’s text from Luke, Jesus promises a thief Paradise that day. We are witnessing the great triumph of a thoroughly upside down kingdom where the lowly are lifted up and the high and mighty are brought low. Jesus, who was criticized for eating and drinking with sinners, now talks with and dies with sinners.
Behind the Lukan text lies implied questions for us. Are we ready to embrace citizenship in this peculiar, upside down kingdom where a crucified sovereign reigns, where the Lord comes and welcomes into his kingdom those whom the world despises? And, will we allow this victory of life over death by Jesus to resonate out into the world, into our homes, into our marriages, into our bank accounts? Sweeping claims are being made on Christ the King Sunday. Matters of vast importance are being revealed. Seemingly intractable problems are being defeated. No corner of creation is immune from this widening influx of grace. We are testifying to a shift of power. In Jesus, the kingdoms of this world are being thrown into confusion and death. God’s kingdom is breaking through for all of us to see. Nice way to end the Church year, I’d say!