“And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” Luke 1:32
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Crown Prince William and his wife Kate were in New York City last week. William will become King of England, once his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth dies, or abdicates, and his father, Prince Charles dies or abdicates. That is probably not going to happen any time soon.
Still, the media was all over the visit of the Royals. Here was a future King, visiting the United States. There is a show, on television called Game of Thrones. It is based on a series of fantasy novels entitled “A Song of ice and Fire,” and is all about fictional Kingdoms and thrones, and intrigues and the like. I have never seen it. It is not recommended viewing. And yet, millions of people are fascinated, apparently, by it.
I do not know who coined the phrase, but when John F. Kennedy became President, somehow, the fictional kingdom of Camelot became equated with his administration Apparently it was his wife Jackie, in an interview with Life magazine, after his assassination, that equated the two.
So obviously, even though we live in a democracy, a democratic republic it is said nowadays, we continue to have a fascination with Kingdoms, even with Kings.
Why? I don’t know. The thought of being born into power? The challenge of holding onto that power through intrigue? Is is living in castles that is so appealing? Whatever. It is probably safe to say, that whatever the reason, for a modern fascination with Kingdoms and Kings, such a fascination comes to a screeching halt, is abandoned, is set aside, when the fact is mentioned that Jesus Christ is a King. He is the King of Kings.
That Jesus Christ sits on the throne of His father David. That all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior from sin and death are citizens, or, even better, subjects, of the Kingdom of Christ.
So our text for this morning: the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary, that Jesus the Son of God, to be born to her, would “sit on the throne of His father David”, and would reign, not just for a few decades, but would rule forever.
How did we become citizens / subjects of this Kingdom?
Luther put it nicely in the meaning to the Second Article of the Apostle’s Creed in the Small Catechism: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord (is my King, my Sovereign, my Liege), who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I might be his own…
(listen up here!) and live under Him in His Kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness”.
So in short, through His death on the cross, Christ Jesus our Lord, redeemed us from sin, death and the devil so that we could be citizens / subjects of His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. That does sound wonderful, doesn’t it?
To be a subject in the Kingdom of Jesus. To have Jesus as our King. Again: to be a subject in the Kingdom of Jesus. To have Jesus as our King.
I mean, the arrival of William and Kate in New York, gives one the thought of living in such a Kingdom, of living in England, perhaps. But then comes to mind, the reason the United States exists today, and that is a rebellion against a King. A revolution against being citizens, being subjects, of a Kingdom.
And yes, even though comparisons were made in the aftermath of the horrific assassination of our 35th president between the Kennedy administration and the ideal Kingdom of Camelot, time has allowed for the acceptance of more sober assessments of that period of Presidential history.
And television shows like Game of Thrones? Well, it can be exciting to imagine being a King, or Queen, ruling over a Kingdom of some sort, but let’s be honest: most of the characters of such shows, as in the actual kingdoms of history, end up being killed in battle, poisoned, imprisoned, banished, assassinated, or even worse. Rarely did the Kings of old, or so it seems, die of old age.
In short, earthly kingdoms, Kingdoms of Men, fictional or not, are lacking and lacking greatly.
That being so, why don’t we simply embrace the truly wondrous Kingdom, the truly glorious Kingdom, the truly eternal Kingdom of which we already are subjects? Why do we not simply rejoice that the baby, to be born of Mary, as proclaimed by the angel Gabriel, has rescued us from sin, death and the devil and through our baptisms into Him, through the work of the Holy Spirit on His behalf, already made us citizens, subjects, of a kingdom in which there are no intrigues, but only Righteousness, Innocence, and Blessedness?
But perhaps that is the problem. Like the disciples of Jesus, before the bestowal of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the appeal of an earthly Kingdom, in which we are King or Queen is that we are reigning. We are ruling, we are having our will fulfilled daily, for good or ill. Like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, it is easy to think, or even to sing (to ourselves) “If I were the King of the Forest” and then complete that thought with our brilliant idea of making everyone around us, do exactly what we want them to do.
But even real kings have discovered that being and earthly King is not all of what it is cracked up to be. And anyone who has been given and wielded real authority and power on this earth knows that the responsibility that comes with such authority can simply be overwhelming.
So we repent, don’t we? Repent of our desires to rule over those around us; our desires to somehow impose our will on others for our own good, of grasping after, power for power’s sake, and rejoice, that the Kingdom of which we are a part, The Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, is a Kingdom or righteousness, and innocence and blessedness:
The Righteousness, Innocence and Blessedness of our King, bestowed upon us, through faith in Him. In this Kingdom, it is really not a matter of lording it over others, but serving others. Not of arrogance but of humility, not of sinfulness but of sinlessness.
What does the Kingdom look like? Does it have a castle? Does it have walls? Does it have an impressive coat of arms? Where do we find this Kingdom? Well of course, the Kingdom of our King Jesus is a Kingdom of hearts, a Kingdom in which he reigns by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
But that being so, it is not as if the Kingdom of our King Jesus cannot be found. Where called ministers of Christ are found, prayer, praise and thanksgiving are heard. Where there is the Holy Word of God, confession and absolution, the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism; where prayer is offered and the Holy Cross is lived-out daily, there you know you have found that Kingdom of hearts, the Kingdom of our King Jesus here on earth.
Sure, on the Last Day, everything will change, everything will be visible. We will see our King! And all of us, who are citizens, subjects, in His Kingdom will identify each other as such; on the Last Day, we will see our Heavenly Kingdom and the places where we will live.
At that time, everything will be visible and known. Until that time everything is hidden and therefore only somewhat perceptible. And so what can be said about the Kingdom of our King Jesus? I mean, that is a great part of Kingdoms in this world. What can be said about them, and what in fact is said about them.
People in the world still citizens of such kingdoms usually are proud that they are. What can be said then about being a citizen / a subject in the Kingdom of our King Jesus? What can we say about it? What can we tell our friends and neighbors?
I posted the following comments from Luther, on the church Facebook page this last week, newly translated remarks on Revelation 3:21… Remarks that give us an idea of what we can think about our citizenship in the Kingdom of our King Jesus:
We should marvel at the gospel to such an extent that it should make us proud and glad. It should make us boast: I am a Christian. I am baptized. Therefore I do not at all doubt that, by the Lord Jesus, I will be and remain a lord over sin and death; that heaven and all creation are to serve me for good. Even if I had the crown of the Turkish emperor, it is nothing compared to the fact that I have a share in Christ’s inheritance and that I am to live with him in eternity. Yet where do you find those who truly believe this and take it to heart? To be sure, we know the right words and can repeat them, but we are quickly convicted of the fact that we do not believe it. For we do not marvel, otherwise we would be not only glad, but then also boastful. For a Christian is a boastful, blessed person who cares about neither the devil nor any misfortune. For he knows that, by Christ, he is a lord over all this.”
You see, at the end of the day, this is the wonder of being a citizen, a subject, within the Kingdom of King Jesus. Through our King, who now reigns over heaven and earth, we too have been granted authority over sin, death, and the devil.
No, we don’t live in a castle surrounded by a wall and moat, keeping away from us all that would harm us, in this world. But we do live in a Spiritual Kingdom, and that is, the Spiritual Kingdom of our King Jesus, in which our King Lives and Reigns, and as His citizens, we will always receive what we need.
This is better than any Earthly Kingdom which exists now or ever has. This is better even than any fictional kingdom like Camelot or fantasy kingdom like that of the Game of Thrones. And what is best about it, is that even now, we are living within it, and will continue to do so for all eternity.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting, Amen.
Image credit: http://www.clker.com/clipart-king-of-hearts.html