Lesson of the Week
This Week’s Message
Sermon: Ascension Day – May 10, 2018 LSB: Series B
Texts: Ps.110:1, 4-5 Ps. 47:5: Acts 1:1-11; Eph. 1:15-23; Lk. 24:44-53
Title: “Supreme Monarch”
“… and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead an seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come…”
Dear body of Christ, ruled by God’s Son in this age, so that you may glorify your King now and join His eternal kingdom in the age to come.
I have been watching a very interesting show, produced by Netflix, the streaming TV service, titled “The Crown”. Do any of you watch this? It follows the rise to the monarchy of England by its current Queen Elizabeth. Being an American I have never been much interested in following the British monarchy and its goings on. Sorry if you were a Princess Diana follower or fan, but I always thought it a little silly how much media coverage was given to her before she married Prince Charles, at their wedding, during their marriage and then subsequently after their break up allegedly because of Prince Charles’ infidelity with his current wife Camilla.
We, as Americans, usually show a great disdain for kings and queens, since the time of the Revolution during which King George III ruled. It is interesting to note that Queen Elizabeth’s father whose given name was Albert, named himself King George the Sixth when he ascended to the throne. That Elizabeth became Queen of England was quite unexpected. She was third in line for the crown, and her father became king only because his brother King Edward the Eighth abdicated the throne to marry the commoner American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. When I consider the monarchs that have ruled over peoples and nations through the years the most interesting thing I note about them is how “human” they were and are. Some lived their lives more nobly than others, but even the most noble of them all were affected by their lives of power and authority. Every one of them made bad decisions that affected the people they ruled. In fact they even coined a Latin phrase for the times that were the most terrible for these monarchs, annus horribilus, horrible year. Such is not the case for one human monarch though. King Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, who rules with “immeasurable power” is now our King of kings and Lord of lords. On this day we celebrate His Ascension to His heavenly throne, we also what hope, daily hope this brings us even when all the human kingdoms and queendoms around us are crumbling to the ground.
The Apostle Paul reminds the believers in Ephesus and us this night what blessings Christ’s ascension as Holy King and Ruler of His Bride the Church means for us as we live in the crumbling kingdom of this world. If there is one king that we as American Christians are called to acknowledge and “to live under Him in His kingdom” it is our King Jesus. He is the perfect King who makes no mistakes in using His power and authority to rule over us now in this kingdom of grace. Christians are residents now of a kingdom of grace ruled over by King Jesus. What does this mean for you?
First it means that our hope must be in the assurance that our King has not only defeated sin, death, and the devil, but that He still holds power and authority over these enemies of our lives of faith. When I talk about crumbling kingdoms and living in one I am talking about the kingdom of this world in which we live. Yes, as subjects of our almighty King we not only are regularly, daily receiving His grace anew, but are bringing it to bear in the lives of our fellow residents. We certainly know that not all people live in allegiance to our King. We live in a world that still mocks Him, speaks ill of Him and His followers, in fact are busy trying with all their might to tear down His kingdom. I want you to know and believe that even using all their intellect and might they will not overcome Jesus nor His subjects in this kingdom of grace. As our Monarch He loves His bride, that’s you and me, the Church, and cares for us continually as we hear a little later in this letter to the Ephesians as Paul writes, “…as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Yes, the King married Himself to us who are not unlike that American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. We in our sin are scandalous. Yet our King in His kindness and love stepped down from His throne in heaven, in all humility and fought against our masters of sin, Satan, and the evil world, overcoming them in His kingly, sacrificial death. Our King set aside His power and authority and faced punishment and death for His subjects, including those who do not acknowledge His rule. I have to say, I don’t know what King Edward the VIII saw in Wallis Simpson, but he gave up his kingdom for her love. In a greater way King Jesus gave up heaven to face sin and hell for you and me. What a wondrous King.
Our King continues to rule over us through water, Word, bread, wine through the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit using these means to mark us and keep us as blessed subjects of His kingdom. Do you remember from the explanation of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer concerning prayer to God through our King Jesus that we do not have to pray for God’s kingdom of power, because that is always at work in our world. We confess that all things hold together in this world because of the ongoing power of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit that hold all things physical and spiritual together. But we do pray for His kingdom of grace to be at work in our lives each and every day. Our King does bring that grace to bear in us in concrete ways. Tonight as we gather here and join with the angels and archangels in songs of honor and praise of the coronation of our King, He is renewing us in this grace through the power of the Holy Word we are receiving. He reminds us of the power and promises, unbreakable from His direction, He gave us in our Baptism, that our strength of faith and hope may rely on what He has done for us here. He comes to us as victorious, risen and living King tonight and joins Himself in His true body and blood to His bride, sanctifying us with the grand power of His living presence. What a King we have.
We prayed in our collect this evening that our King would set us in the heavenly places even as we live in this dying world. And so we pray that God’s kingdom of glory come to us, that our King would keep us faithful to Him and His kingdom until death parts us from this world. We have our eyes on heaven even as we live our lives here with a living faith. It is our risen and living King who will never disappoint us.
With us always, that is what our loving and ruling, still interceding for us King promises. We are secure in Him who lives and reigns to all eternity. Tonight we join our praises with the angels and all who have gone before us and reside beside the King and His throne. Blessed Lord Jesus, King of our lives and souls, draw us in faith daily to You that we would know and live in the certainty that You reign over us always with Your grace unto life everlasting. Amen.