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Grace Notes: See Christ the King
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The section of God’s Word we’re looking at today is Luke 23:35-43. It’s the story of Christ on the cross. That might seem like an odd section of Scripture to be looking at at this time of the year, but it’s chosen because here at the end of the church year, we have this Sunday called "Christ the King" Sunday. And this text with Jesus on the cross is all about Christ being our King.

I can understand if some of you are saying, "I just don’t see it." He doesn’t necessarily look like a king — all beaten and bloody. Sure, there is that crown of thorns, but that’s mockery. And there’s that sign over his head stating his charge: "This is the King of the Jews."

Everyone is mocking him. They’re killing him. They’re laughing at the notion that he might be a king. That doesn’t look very kingly.

The problem is, we’re looking at this scene through your physical eyes. Take a peek at it through your eyes of faith. Physical eyes can mislead you. God’s word cannot.

Yes, we see him crowned with thorns and insult and humility. But realize the reality behind what we see. It’s our sins he’s paying for. It’s his love for you that caused that. It’s his divine power and will that keeps him on the cross until it is finished rather than releasing him from it for his convenience. That is Christ our King, crowned with thorns so that we may be crowned with glory.

That’s another thing we so often see through our physical eyes. Do you always feel like you are royalty? Through Christ’s work for you, you are.

But our eyes see the cash flow causing stress and making you wish you could see your crown so you could pawn it to pay some bills. Or the relationship makes you feel more like a loser than royalty. That person certainly isn’t treating you like you’ve got the crown, right? Or maybe it’s the health. You don’t feel royal. Or, maybe it’s the loss. The fact that your loved one is gone just doesn’t feel like dominion over death is yours.

All of our stress and worry and anger and revenge, is just one big rebellion against Christ as our king. In those actions, we’re joining in our voices with the voices of the crowd, "You aren’t really a king, Jesus. You can’t fix this."

But look closely. Look with the eyes of faith at this scene in Luke 23. See the man on that cross, crowned with thorns? He’s paying for your rebellion, for your outbursts. That’s Christ, your forgiving, sacrificing, loving, merciful King.

That’s what the thief on the cross finally saw. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that at first, both criminals were mocking him. But then, after watching, after listening, after seeing what was happening through the eyes of faith, one of the criminals changed his tone, and actually rebuked the mocking criminal: "Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:40).

He saw Christ the King. He saw Christ, his King. So he said: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And that day, that day that to anyone else’s physical eyes would have looked like the worst day in that man’s life, became for him sheer glory. Yes, the pain of the crucifixion was still there, and the physical death was still there, and the appearance of shame and loss and humility and destruction was still there.

But look at what was really there, through the miracle of what was happening on that cross right next to him and the miracle of what had happened in his heart…look at what the real picture was, in Verse 43:. Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

And those are the words that our God speaks to you. On the day we finish this world, Jesus says, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." We don’t always see the crowns now, but they are there. Look with the eyes of faith and see Christ your king and see what that means for you. In Christ, Amen.