Jesus Christ, King of Glory. King of Hearts?
AFBC 2001 09 02
For The Lord's Table
Reading: John 1: 1- 14
Lu 2:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Ps 24:7 ¶ Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory. Selah
Ps 19:1 ¶ For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
The passage read earlier makes it clear that the person of the triune God who was the immediate agent of creation was Jesus Christ, the Son.
John 1:2 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Thus the glory due to God for creation is first his, though we know from the scripture that he will pass this glory on to the father.
Notice that of angels in the courts of heaven we read: Rev 4: 8 Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
And the redeemed, we hear saying: Rev4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
The writer of the book of Hebrews adds: Heb 1: 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? 8 about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom.
That is to say, Jesus Christ is the King of Glory, high, exalted, holy, majestic—ruling over all the universe he created and sustains. The universal crown and sceptre were his by right of creation and ownership from eternity past—long ages before he chose to lay by a portion of his glory and be born on earth as one of us, to live the perfect life, die a redeeming death to rescue a people for himself, rise from the dead as proof he was finished his war on Satan and death, then ascend into heaven to re-claim the rulership, but now with greater acclaim than ever for the wondrous thing he had done.
Heb1: 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
In the old testament God said through Isaiah: Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.
And this is fulfilled now, as Paul says:
Phil2: 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is the one the Apostle John proclaims in the gospel that bears his name—the one who is the Word. This was a heavily-laden scriptural term in Christ's time, for the Israelites knew God had created by the word of his power, had given his word as promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had pronounced the word of his law to Moses, and then interpreted and expounded that word through his prophets for centuries.
As Peter put it, in a common Biblical expression: 1Pe 1:25 but the word of the Lord stands for ever." And this is the word that was preached to you.
There's more to it than a written word, however. The Greeks honoured ideas and the words in which they were expressed or argued as the very flesh of knowing. By words, properly used in rhetoric, one abstracted ideas into concrete form, gave them life, and brought understanding of truth. True knowledge thus obtained was high and lofty, the best of all knowing—associated with the invisible creator of the universe, whom they worshipped as the unknown and unknowable God—far removed from the toy Gods of Mt. Olympus whom their poets had made up to be like humans writ large.
Logos was indeed the opposite of muthos, for logos was truth and knowledge, not fairly tales. But o what a day it would be when the unknown God sent a revelation of himself, a personal logos to show himself forth truly for who he was—the source of truth and absolute knowledge. He would be "the word made flesh."
We now boldly proclaim with John that the word of the Almighty and holy God, known to Israel, spoken of by the Greeks, and long expected by both, has indeed come in the flesh as a human being to make God known Moreover, Heb 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Well could Jesus declare: John 14 Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. Jesus is the Christ, both man and God, the coming to our physical realm of true knowing, of the Logos revealing to us all that is knowable of who God is.
To make sure we get it, John 1 uses another image:
John1: 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 ¶ There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
We know from Genesis and from John that Christ created light. One of his first logos acts was "let there be light", but there is more to Christ as light than the maker of the physical phenomenon, for we also have
Rev 21: 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
Jesus is our spiritual light, the only way to see God, the only way to enter the presence of God. Joh 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.
Thus in this passage in John 1, we have Christ as the express image of the father, as the light to see the father as the logos of the father, as the origin of life and the source of spiritual life, and 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
Why did this Christ, this Lord of Glory, become the logos of the father, when he knew it meant dying on the cross—the most gruesome, bloody, painful, tortured death we depraved humans have ever invented?
It was to pay the penalty for our sins—a penalty owed to a holy God who hates sin and demands a justice for it that we could not satisfy even in eternal punishment. Christ's death in doing so was to show us the awfulness of our sin and rebellion, to show us the astounding love of God that he would send his son to take the punishment we could not. We see revealed on the cross the true and eternal logos, and in him we see that the pure and holy God, while remaining true to his just demand that sin be punished, yet found a way to be merciful, deflecting the judgement we could not take to his son, who being God himself could effectively handle a judgement of such infinite magnitude, and who, being human, could reasonably stand in for us all. Now, freedom from the penalty due to sin is available to all who believe Jesus is indeed the Christ, Messiah, Saviour, light, and logos, and believing, find all that sin paid for in his death.
Does this include you? Have you seen Jesus as logos and light? Have you acknowledged and repented of sin, accepted his gift of salvation and been freed to serve him as you were made to do? If not, I urge you, see Christ for who he is this very day and accept him as your saviour. Do not leave this place without dealing with God over your sin and coming to him whom to know is life eternal.
Now, the passage in Hebrews 1 goes on to remind us that "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 ¶ So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
That is to say, Jesus the Christ again rules with glory over all his creation, his majesty enhanced and his deeds proclaimed far and wide. Having laid them aside, he chose to earn them back through an act so astounding it increased his already infinite glory even more. The crown and sceptre were his by right; now they are his by virtue of his actions as well.
But this lordship of Christ, too, has consequences. It means that Christians are his people, bought and paid for. We are not free to follow the siren call of the world to live life as we please. We can no longer claim we are masters of our own souls, captains of our own fate (even while truly being slaves to sin), for Jesus Christ has not only freed us, he now sits on the throne of heaven and is Lord of all. We are freed from obsession with self (which is sin) to serve him, and to serve one another.
When we Christians accepted Christ as Saviour, when we acknowledge personal redemption in the symbolic death to sin called Baptism, when we take the bread and announce we see in it Christ's body broken for us, when we take the cup and proclaim Christ's bloody death for us until He comes, we are also saying we perceive and acknowledge him as Lord over all, and in particular as our Lord.
Remember Gen 1: 5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
This remained true. The word "wicked" appears in the OT 352 times. Out of wickedness, we ignored God's law, killed his prophets, and crucified his son. At the root of all wickedness is one thing, Jer 9:3 "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the LORD.
Thus it is critical that the Christian not merely say that Christ is Saviour, but also acknowledge him as lord—not just in theory, but in practice (for otherwise it's only empty words or shallow intellectualism). That is, communion is more than a symbol of Christ's death and of our acceptance of his salvation. It is also a proclamation of his lordship over all, in particular, of his lordship over us personally. The people of God, redeemed from sin by the death of his son, have different priorities, a different focus, a different worship. They know who's in charge of life. Or do they, always?
Do we outwardly proclaim Christ, but harbour some secret sin we have not repented of? Do we resent what some other person has said or done, harbouring anger and bitterness in our hearts? Have we forgiven each other—really forgiven, so we scarcely remember what we were once so upset about? Do we love one another as the lord commands us and energizes us in the Holy Spirit to do?
We have a tendency to make claims like "the church is dead", or more extravagantly "God is dead" which is just an extension of the first, when what we ought to be saying "it's pretty much me that's dead". We need to do more than call a heavenly 911 line; we need to deal with the fact of Christ's lordship and apply it.
All these things I've been talking about centre on Christ's Lordship and are part of perceiving the body of Christ (nice deliberately ambiguous phrase) when we come to communion.
We could also ask, do we spend our money on material things so that we hinder our worship and burden down our journey with stuff we cannot take into God's presence anyway?
What of our time? Communion is a few minutes of worship, but are they our only ones of the week (or of the month)? Lordship demands that our lives be an act of worship, a testimony to his grace, a reflection of Christ's character.
Who is number one in our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations, our actions? Do we regularly bow before God and ask him to direct our lives, our actions, our jobs, our partnerships, our marriages, and our other relationships?
The OT command of Deuteronomy is put this way:
Mr 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Nothing less will do. If there is anything of self, anything of sin, anything that falls short of Christ's lordship over all our being, let us set it aside and enter fully into his fellowship by bowing before him and acknowledging him as lord. Then take communion as a sign and symbol that you fully recognize Christ in all his majesty—recognize him as lord not just of creation around, but of your very life.
Can we look around us and see the body of Christ unambiguously expressed in one another? Christ is God's revelation to us, and he is God's revelation in us. Do we see that revelation when we look around? If not, why not, and what are you going to do about it. Have you forgiven everyone who has offended you? If Have you done it absolutely and without reservation, as the Lord forgave you and as he commands? Will you resolve this moment to go at once to anyone with whom you have unresolved business and deal with it—once and forever?
To take this communion, we acknowledge Christ. Anyone who has never done that, never accepted him in the first place as Saviour and Lord should pass the plate by until first doing so. I recommend that anyone who has not publicly acknowledged Christ's Lordship in Baptism also pass the plate by until that matter of obedience is taken care of. OTOH, anyone who has once accepted Christ, but is otherwise holding back from Christ's Lordship, putting something else first, whether it be money, resentment or bitterness toward another person, or some other sin, must fully repent, resolve to put the matter right and follow God as he demands. Having made that resolution now, you should partake of the Lord's Table joyfully, recognizing both his Lordship, and his body, the church.
Here is bread, symbol of life, here the sign and symbol of the one who is life, the creator, redeemer, and Lord. By eating this bread together, we acknowledge we have repented of sin, we recognize Jesus as our lord and we see each other as part of his redeemed body.
Here is the cup, O lord. As we take it, we acknowledge the blood off Jesus spilled for us, to redeem us as a people to serve you. We renew our commitment to your lordship, and we will seek to serve you with all you have given us. You are the King of Glory. You are Lord over our heart, soul, mind, and body.