As we continue our bible study in Luke’s gospel, this morning we cover Luke 13:22-35.
This is the sermon for Last Sunday of End Time—Christ the King. The sermon text is: Matthew 27:27-31. The sermon theme is: Let Us Bow Before Our King.
Let Us Bow Before Our King
We don’t bow anymore. Have you ever noticed that? It used to be, that when people were introduced to each other they would bow to each other out of respect. It used to be that when people were congratulated for something they did well, they bowed. And today, we are so very much not used to this at all that we have forgotten how to bow and when to bow. I remember when I was in high school and had a voice recital. And at the end the people clapped. And suddenly, at that moment I realized that I was supposed to bow. And I didn’t know now to. I did the best I could. But it looked ugly. People used to bow to each other at various times and occasions. But long ago, the time when they would really bow was when their King entered the room. It didn’t matter who you were. When your king entered the room, your face found the floor. People did this out of respect. This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. It is the very last day of the Christian Church Year. It is the day when we celebrate the fact that just as we bow before Jesus together Sunday after Sunday here, we will bow before Jesus forever in heaven. And, in order to focus on that fact we read the words in Matthew 27: “27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Prætorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.” (Matt 27:27–29 NIV)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, look at the irony. Irony is when you expect it go one way, but it goes in a different direction. These soldiers pretended that Jesus was a king to humiliate him. But how could they know that he wasn’t just a king—He was the King of kings? And so, as we travel through these words we see one irony after another. First, all the soldiers gather around Jesus. The entire cohort gathered around Jesus.1 How ironic it is that the entire world will gather around Jesus on the Last Day. Second, they put on him a red robe. How ironic it is that on the Last Day he will wear a robe of righteousness and all the world will see it. Third, they put a stick made of reeds into his hands to be his scepter and thorns to be his crown. How ironic that on the Last Day he will have and show that scepter of justice and the crown of glory. Finally, they bowed before him. How ironic that they bow before him to torture him when, on the Last Day, those soldiers who continued in unbelief will bow before him in terror.
On this day, the last day of the year, we gather together to bow before Jesus as our King. But it’s good for us to look at the soldiers here bowing before Jesus. For just as the soldiers tortured and bowed down before Jesus as a joke, so also does the world around us today. If the world wants someone to blame for the evil of the world, it curses Jesus. If the world wants something good, it demands it from Jesus all the while acting as if they were the ones who created it. If the world mentions Jesus, it’s as a punchline to a joke or a curse against someone else. But never do we see what we should. Never do we see people bowing down before the King of kings with humility in their hearts.
And when we see this, it makes us angry, doesn’t it? But before we get too angry, let’s realize that it’s not just the world out there that bows before Jesus as a joke. We too do the same. We do the same with our tongues, don’t we? In the book of James we read these words: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:10 NIV) How can you praise Jesus here on Sunday morning and then use his name to curse others throughout the week? We bow before him as a joke with our tongues. But we also do the same with our actions. We all love to be served as if we were kings. But when it comes to serving others we pretend that that part of the bible didn’t exist. And so we make ourselves into selfish kings. And in so doing we turn Jesus’ name into a joke.
And as we see this in our hearts we realize that we don’t belong there. We read in our second lesson what heaven looks like. There in heaven all the saints will be gathered around Jesus, the Lamb of God, bowing before him and praising him for eternity—and we don’t belong there. We don’t deserve it because we treat our King and his name as a joke by our words and actions.
And that leads us to a question: How can I be sure that I will have heaven on that Last Day? To answer that question, let us travel back just a little bit in these words from Matthew. When those soldiers tortured Jesus they took off his clothes and put a mantle on him. But it wasn’t a purple cloak. It wasn’t a purple cloak because it very, very difficult to make a purple cloak. You could only get purple clothing from the shells of crushed up sea creatures—very difficult to find enough; very difficult to make into dye. The most the soldiers could do was to turn the cloak from red to a deep, dark red—the color of blood. How ironic it is that they clothed Jesus in a mantle of blood. For that is exactly what we read about in our final verses: “After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” (Matt 27:31 NIV)
They clothed him in blood in the barracks. And then after they whipped him and hung him on the cross they clothed him in blood again. Only this time it was his own blood. That, my brothers and sisters in Christ is a bitter irony. But it’s also a beautiful one. For Jesus was the Lamb that was slain for us—to take away our sins. All the times our tongues made the name of our King a joke—all the times we acted like the King of kings demanding others serve us—they are forgiven. They are washed away there on the cross. And through his word that forgiveness is brought to us today.
The result of this is that now we can bow before Jesus not with terror, but with joy. Because our sin is forgiven. Now we can bow before him because we have the promise that we will see our King and bow before him and worship him forever in heaven. And that’s why what you are doing here is so very important. It is true that the first and most important thing that happens in worship is that Jesus, our King comes to us. Through his word he comes to us and takes away our sin. But there is also something else that happens in worship. Here in worship we bow before our King in our hearts preparing for that day when we will bow before him so humbly and joyfully in heaven.
So then, every time you come to worship remember this. Every time we gather together in these small numbers we confess the fact that someday soon we will gather together with millions. Every time we gather together and sing with voices that don’t sound as good as they should or as good as they used to, we have the promise that we will gather with angels and sing to our King on that Last Day. And every time we receive the Lord’s Supper we receive the promise not just that our sins are forgiven, but that also we will see our King in heaven. Let us bow before our king. Let us do so humbly and joyfully, now and forever. Amen.
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