Christ the King, Year B: Descending from on High

SUNDAY’S READINGS | November 21, 2021

2 Sam. 23:1-7 or Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14
Ps. 132:1-13 (14-19) or Ps. 93
Rev. 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

“Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever” (BCP). With these words, we acknowledge and welcome “a kingdom not from this world” (John 18:36). We bear witness to a power from beyond this world, high and lifted up, beyond all knowing. We enter a celestial realm beyond this world, where the King of justice and mercy rules over the cosmos.

Entering this new realm, we open our minds to images of glory and wonder. “As I watched,” says the prophet Daniel, “thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire flowed out from his presence” (Dan. 7:9-10). A God of transcendent wonder presides over the universe, the One God: “a thousand thousand served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him” (Dan. 7:10). It is a glorious and otherworldly picture. We can almost hear the Ancient One say, “I Am who I Am” (Ex. 3:14).

“The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God who is seated on high?” (Ps. 113:4-5). Miraculously, the One God, high and lifted up, is also “our God.” God comes to us by creating, sustaining, blessing, redeeming, and restoring all things in his beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. God deigns to be among us. Asking the psalmist’s question again, we listen for a fuller answer. “Who is like the Lord our God who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children” (Ps. 113:5-9).

God has descended in love through his Son. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, stands before Pilate. The kings of this world presume to stand in judgment over the Son of the Living God, the giver of life and salvation. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us’” (Ps. 2:2-3). Who will rid this world of this meddlesome messiah, a would-be king?

Jesus tells Pilate, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). There is no peaceable kingdom without the truth that Jesus Christ is, for his truth brings a peace that passes all understanding. Belonging to the truth, we hear his voice. We know our King. We do not interrogate him but follow him and love him and know ourselves most deeply in union with him.

Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). Jesus is the everlasting King of a kingdom not from this world. And yet the kingdom draws near!

The Lord is high above all nations, and yet the Lord has come to be among us, leaving nothing out, descending even to the grave and hell, marrow and heart.

Look It Up: 2 Samuel 23:3-4

Think About It: The kingship of Jesus is “like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land” (2 Sam. 23:4). Our King is beautiful!


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