daily biblical sermons


Jesus inaugurates the longed for universal kingdom of peace on earth of which he is the King
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, November 24, 2019
2 Samuel 5:1-3, Psalm 121, Colossians 1:12-20, Luke 23:35-43


 

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews’” (Luke 23:35-38).

 

 

Jesus preached the kingdom of God, of which he himself is the king, and this is how we honor him today on this solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. At the end of the Church year our thoughts turn to the glorious return of Jesus Christ on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to judge the living and the dead and to consummate all things. This will be the fullness of the kingdom of God, which Jesus so frequently preached, going about Galilee, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

 

 

Repentance and belief in the gospel are essential to enter into the kingdom of God, which Jesus inaugurated in the world by his coming and his atoning, redemptive death on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. The key to entering into the kingdom is faith in Jesus, which includes genuine repentance and the intention of immediately amending our life by ceasing to sin gravely.

 

 

Once one puts his faith in Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and abandons them, God declares him righteous for the simple reason that all his sins have been paid for by the death of Christ on the cross, and once we put our faith in Christ, his suffering and death is credited by God to our personal account as paying our debt of suffering and death that we have with God in punishment for our sins. Hence once we put our faith in Jesus Christ, our death sentence for our sins is considered by God as already suffered for us, and so the divine judge declares us acquitted and free to go. This is justification by faith, which enables us to enter the kingdom of God, as it now exists on earth.

 

 

The kingdom of God on earth is a matter of the heart, for Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20b-21 NKJV). Without the eyes of faith, no one can see the kingdom of God, for it is within the hearts of all who believe in Christ.

 

 

Being in the kingdom makes us a “new man” (Ephesians 4:22-24), a new creature, a new creation, for the risen Lord says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). And St. Paul says, “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the kingdom as it exists in the world today. It is the community of Jesus’ disciples who have been transformed into new creatures by being justified by God through their faith in Jesus Christ, because of his reparation-making, atoning death on the cross for the sins of the world, for “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

 

 

Being in the kingdom gives us new life and means living in a new way in this world, doing God’s will, living in accord with his normative biblically revealed moral law, which the grace of our justification now enables and obliges us to keep. And we will grow in holiness (sanctification) by living this new life of good works in accord with God’s normative biblically revealed moral law. This is the present state of kingdom living that the prophets looked forward to.

 

 

We ourselves also look forward to the final state of the kingdom of God at Christ’s second coming, when he will sit as King and judge the living and the dead, as Jesus told us: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:31-34).

 

 

Then indeed Jesus will be the King of the universe in power and glory, and all peoples and nations will serve him, and his kingdom will have no end, as Daniel prophesied, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man … And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). We are to live in this kingdom now in its present state, and we are to long for its full manifestation at the Parousia, when Christ will come again in glory. Then his kingdom will be fully manifest in all its majesty.

 

 

The angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that her son would be the King of the longed for kingdom of God on earth, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

 

 

Isaiah prophesied the kingdom of God that is now with us, saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; and those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). We now live in that great light if we are in the kingdom of God by our faith, living a life of good works in accord with God’s will, as revealed to us in his normative biblically revealed moral law.

 

 

God will establish a universal reign of peace on earth that will last forever (2 Peter 3:13), and those that submit to him in faith begin to live already in that kingdom, for God has reconciled them with himself, crediting Christ’s death to their account as sufficient suffering in punishment for their sins, thereby removing their guilt and reckoning to them Christ’s own righteousness, by their faith in him (Romans 4:22-24).

 

 

We therefore live as righteous people, with our shame and guilt removed from us, and with the righteousness of God himself shining in us, through our faith in him.

 

 

Isaiah longed for his coming and called him the Prince of Peace and said, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore” (Isaiah 9:7).

 

 

In his days there will be heavenly peace on earth in the hearts of all that have accepted him with faith and now live a new life in accord with his normative biblically revealed moral law. Isaiah describes the peace of this kingdom, which is now in our hearts: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:6-7). We will have conflicts in the world, but in Christ we will have peace if we have faith in him.

 

 

St. Paul describes the kingdom of God, of which Christ is the King, saying, The Father “has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-13). It is because of Christ that this kingdom exists, for through him God was pleased “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20).

 

 

It is the blood of Jesus’ cross that reconciles us ungodly sinners with God, for “in him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8). This was the blood of Christ’s sacrifice, whereby he took our sins upon himself and died on the cross to serve our death sentence for our sins for us, as our substitute, so that all who put their faith in him might have his suffering and death on the cross credited to their personal account as full payment of the debt of suffering and death that they owe God in punishment for their sins. Hence the all-just God can justly acquit us and declare us righteous as members of his kingdom in this world.

 

 

Christ is indeed our peace, and he is great unto the ends of the earth, wherever people put their faith in him and genuinely repent of their sins. He is the one about whom Micah prophesied, “He shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And this shall be peace” (Micah 5:4-5).

 

 

Yes, Jesus Christ is the King of peace, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Zechariah prophesied his coming like this, “Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass … And he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9, 10b). We are living in that kingdom now in our hearts through faith, and we too, like the Jews, are still longing for its fullest coming in majesty, when Jesus Christ returns on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 

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