Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chrisr the King - Year c - Luke 23:33-43

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. The guilty one anticipates the kingdom of the innocent one. Without hesitating Jesus answers the prayer that is a plea with the promise of paradise, today. Of all the stories told of Jesus; walking on water, feeding five thousand, healing the blind, lame, and deaf, exorcising demons and yes, even raising a dead friend, this story at the end of Jesus’ life defines the royal character of Christ the King. “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… I am among you as one who serves.” The one Jesus called Abba said it this way “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” In light of God’s own stated preference how can one continue to hold onto the idea that the righteous rage of Abba could only be appeased by the blood sacrifice of the innocent Son dearly loved? No. In the promise of paradise to a criminal justly condemned, in forgiving those who sure as hell knew what they were doing, the character of God is revealed and by descending to the place of the dead we are guaranteed there will be no where God is not. Jesus. Remember me.


  1. The people who crucified Christ did know what they were doing, in a physical sense. But weren't they fulfilling the prophecy? Didn't they have a role to play? And wasn't part of that role being blind to the truth and not understanding who Jesus was and what he represented? If so, what is our excuse? We know him, we worship him and we profess to follow him and his teaching. But we are guilty of turning a blind eye to the reality of his sacrifice when it interferes with our desires.

    When Jesus was hung on the cross, that was a horrible but common means of torture and death. The people of Jesus day were guilty of his crucifixion, but at least they were there. They stood in the dirt and the growing darkness. They felt the ground shake and heard the roar of the curtain torn in two. They smelled the blood and death, heard the anguished groans and cries. They saw the muscles stretched and torn, the joints twisted out of their sockets, the dry, bleeding mouth gasping for air, and the swollen bloodshot eyes. Today we who call ourselves Christians can hardly bear the images of what a real crucifixion entails. We would rather focus on the risen Christ than the beaten, tortured and crucified Jesus. We are guilty too of worshiping the triumphant King who brings peace and grace on the soft wings of glowing white dove. The one who has risen victorious over sin and death.

    But the truth that we know is that he is both, and the people of his day could not imagine the risen Christ. They did not know what they were doing, and they could not know what they were setting in motion. The few who were beginning to grasp the bigger picture still didn't comprehend the coming resurrection. That's why Lent is so important for us. It puts us back in touch with the crucified Christ. It humbles us and reminds us that we don't deserve his forgiveness any more than the people who shouted for his death, who swung the whip, who pounded the nails into his body and watched him die a torturous death. We need this reminder of his flesh and blood existence and his willingness to suffer and die for stiff-necked people who did not, could not deserve or appreciate his sacrifice. Because without that Christ who, even as he suffered died, looked on us with love and compassion and interceded for us all for all time. We cannot celebrate rebirth into this new life with the risen Christ until we have first sacrificed our old life and died to sin with the crucified Christ.