Sermon for Last Sunday of Church Year – 11.20.22

+ November 20th, 2022 – Last Sunday of the Church Year +

Series C: Malachi 3:13-18; Colossians 1:13-20; Luke 23:27-43

Beautful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Long Live the King”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

It’s early Friday morning. A rush order has just come into the workshop of a local, Roman woodworker. He takes a slab of wood. Places it on his workbench, and takes out his chisel and hammer. He crafts a sign for the ages. A sign meant to ridicule, yet it rings with truth. This is the King of the Jews.

 

That same Friday morning a contingent of Roman soldiers leave their garrison with boots and belts strapped, armed with spears, hammers, and cold iron Roman nails. Another day. Another criminal. Another cross. They jeer and joke…but yet they’re not entirely wrong. “If you really are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” What they cry out in mockery, Jesus reveals in his humility. He really is the King, which is why he will not save himself. Jesus is crucified to save you.

 

On that Friday afternoon two criminals were led to their death along with Jesus. There at the place called the Skull. One criminal on his left. One on his right. Jesus in the middle. And the words of the psalmist are fulfilled. Jesus is numbered with the transgressors.

 

One of these criminals who were hanged railed at him,[d] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

 

The other criminal, however, saw what Pilate had seen. What we see every time we read the story. Jesus, the innocent one, goes to the cross for the guilty ones.

 

This other criminal rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

 

The crowds, the soldiers, the criminals on the cross, Jesus’ disciples, even his own mother – they are all there as witnesses, at the foot of the cross for the greatest moment of history.

 

To the eyes of the world, the soldiers, the crowds, and many still today, the cross is nothing more than a place of curse and death; an instrument of torture, punishment, and pain; that Friday afternoon is nothing more than unimaginable agony, horrific suffering, and humiliation.

 

It’s true. Jesus’ crucifixion is all of those things. But it is also more.

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, you reign among us by the preaching of your cross.”

 

The cross of Christ crucified is the power to save. God’s power made perfect in weakness, as Paul writes in Corinthians. There is no other power to save, not in you. Not in in me. Not in anyone except the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It was true on that Friday outside the city walls of Jerusalem. It’s true today as we remember and celebrate the end of another church year. And it’s true every day until our Lord Jesus returns.

 

The cross is where Christ is king and where he rules and reigns for you.

 

And of all the people at the cross, it’s the criminal, a condemned and dying thief hanging on his own cross next to Jesus who realizes this, believes this, confesses this.

 

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

 

He asks Jesus to remember him. And in the Scriptures, when someone asks God to remember, it’s not a request for God to do some kind of mental exercise, or memory game; to ask God to remember is to ask God to act. To save. To redeem. To rescue. To do the very thing Jesus is on the cross doing for that criminal and for you. This man’s prayer on the cross is our daily prayer. Our prayer as we long for Jesus to return in glory. Our prayer when life around us feels like the cross, full of suffering, agony, and death. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

 

It’s a beautiful, bold prayer, asking Jesus… remember me when you come into your kingdom.

It’s a prayer that holds no pretentions. No delusions. A prayer that knows we, like the thief on the cross, don’t have a leg to stand on before God. We only have the blood of Jesus. We have nothing to cling to except his cross. And despite all appearances to the contrary, there on the cross, Jesus is ruling and reigning for this criminal and for you. He turns the curse of the cross into great blessing for you. He turns punishment and pain into eternal freedom and joy. He turns our sin, shame, and humiliation into forgiveness, holiness, and glory.

 

He turns death into paradise. And it all happens as his head is crowned with thorns.

 

So can you imagine the complete shock on his face, the pure yet surprising joy when that thief dies and finds himself in the presence of the very same man he had just hung next to on the cross. If an angel had come up to him at the moment he died and went to heaven the angel might ask him, “How did you get in here?” “I don’t know.” Well, surely you must know.” “I don’t. I have no arguments. I have no excuses. No pleas. All I know is this, the man on the middle cross said I could come.”

 

For that thief on the cross, Jesus’ word and promise; Jesus’ death on his behalf was enough. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” The same is true for you as well. Jesus is king on the cross for you. And “where Christ is King, everything is changed. Eyes see differently and the heart no longer beats the same. And in every hard and difficult palce the comforting voice is there and the hand that will not let go upholds us

 

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

When you are baptized and united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. When you daily live in his gifts of repentance and forgiveness of sins. When you walk through this valley of the shadow of death that is so often full of our own burdens, griefs, and crosses to bear. When you pray that the Lord would come again as he promised. In all these things, you rest in the words of Jesus. For the man on the middle cross said so.

 

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977