Sermon for Sunday November 25th, 2018, the Festival of Christ the King

 

The Lessons: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:4b-8; St. John 18:33-37

The Text: Revelation 1:4b-8

The Topic: The Certainty of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ

INTRODUCTION

Evangelist Luis Palau tells of a wealthy European family that decided to have their newborn baby baptized. Dozens of guests were invited to the elaborate affair, and they all arrived at the mansion dressed to the nines. After depositing their elegant wraps on a bed in an upstairs room, the guests were entertained royally.

Soon the time came for the main event — the infant’s baptism. But where was the baby? No one seemed to know. The child’s governess ran upstairs and returned with a desperate look on her face. Everyone searched around frantically. Finally, someone recalled having seen him asleep on one of the beds.

The baby was buried beneath a pile of coats, jackets, and furs. The object of that day’s celebration had been forgotten, neglected, and nearly smothered.

The baby whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas may also be hidden beneath the piles of stuff we load up during the season. We need to enter every Advent asking, “Where’s the baby?”

— Greg Asimakoupoulos, Mercer Island, Washington [1]

Not only do we need to enter every Advent asking, “Where’s the baby,” but also we must ask ourselves, “Am I ready for the Second Coming of Christ the King?” In all the busy preparations for Christmas, many fail to realize fully not only the importance of the first advent of the Lord Jesus Christ as a child, but even his second advent as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

REVELATION 1:7: BEHOLD HE COMES WITH THE CLOUDS

Many centuries have passed since the eleven Apostles, gazing up as the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, as a cloud “received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9b, KJV), were told by two men in white clothing that Jesus would come again in the same way that they had seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11). That promise we still believe despite the passing of many years, for every Sunday when we affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed, we recite the words, “And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.”

Our Lesson from the first chapter of the Book of Revelation highlights the truth of Christ’s second coming as its theme in the quotations from Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10 that we find together in Revelation 1:7 (KJV):

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

 

The addition of the Greek word for “even so,” or “indeed,” to “amen,” the Hebrew word for “so be it,” emphasizes the certainty of Christ’s second coming, and its importance for people of all nations and languages.

THE NEED FOR CLARITY ABOUT CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

Towards the end of the first century, during the persecution Christians faced in the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD), it was necessary for Christians to be refreshed in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his second coming. St. John, whether he was St. John the Apostle, or another St. John called by church tradition “the Divine” or “Theologos,” had been exiled to the remote island of Patmos on account of his faith in Christ (Rev. 1:9).

The beginning of our Lesson takes the form of a greeting used in ancient Christian Greek letters: “Grace to you and peace….” (Rev. 1:4a). The grace and peace comes from God, who is described as “he who is, and he who was, and he who is to come” (Rev. 1:4), from the seven spirits which are before God’s throne, and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:4-5). The seven spirits are either the seven angels of God’s presence, or the Holy Spirit, understood as having sevenfold virtues (according to Isaiah 11:2-3). It is from the Faithful Witness that God’s people receive their inspiration and strength to stand firm under trial. The grace and peace come from the Holy Trinity, who is blessed forever, to all of God’s people, symbolized by the seven churches of the Roman province of Asia. There follows an ascription of glory and power to the Lord Jesus Christ who “has loved us and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

Whatever trials Christians were facing in the time of Domitian, or in any era, or whatever trials they are facing in any country of the world now, it is necessary for them never to lose sight of the wonderful love the Lord Jesus Christ has shown them and the precious salvation he has given them by his redeeming death on the cross.

Because the Lord loves his saints, he will come again with glory. His second coming is not like the arrival of an ordinary citizen at an airport, who is only noticed by his family friends, or colleagues who look out for him. The certainty is that Jesus will come in such a way that everyone shall see him come, including those responsible for crucifying him, and all the nations of the world except those who have believed in Christ will mourn his coming, because it signals the end of uncontrolled sin and evil in the world.

The announcement of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming as the theme of the Book of Revelation is followed, just as it was preceded, by the proclamation of the eternal existence of God:

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

 

(Rev. 1:8, KJV)

This amounts to proclaiming that the certainty of Christ’s second coming is guaranteed by God himself, who is the beginning and the end, encompassing all of life and time.

CONCLUSION

In view of Christ’s second coming as King, how are we to live? We are to love God wholeheartedly and love others as we love ourselves, following God’s commandments, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, and purifying ourselves as He is pure, so that we may be ready to meet with the Lord Jesus Christ whenever he comes.

I end with these words from St Thomas à Kempis:

“He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace.” [2]



[1] p. 381, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

[2] p. 66, Aloysius Croft & Harry F. Bolton (transl.): Thomas à Kempis: The Imitation of Christ. Milwaukee, USA: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1962.

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