St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Friday, November 19, 2021

Christ the King part 5
Revelation 1:4b-8

Revelation 1:4b-8
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega.” says the Lord God who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

“He is coming with the clouds”
Do you remember this from Daniel 7, also included in the Sunday readings for this week?
“…I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Daniel 7:13)

Perhaps you remember that God was present with his people as they left Egypt, “God went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day…”

And Psalm 104:3:”You make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind…”

Where the clouds are, the saving power of almighty God is present – It’s another word-picture, a poetic image, but a good one in times of distress…even times like ours.

Mark also has Jesus quote Daniel when he is before the council before his death:
“Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?
And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right had of the Power; and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

Matthew has Jesus making the same statement, but to a crowd, warning them not to be confused by anyone claiming to be him : “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory.” (Matthew 2430)

It is no wonder that the authorities were enraged. In these Gospel narratives, Jesus clearly identifies himself with God, the King of the Universe.

And you will also remember the Ascension Day reading from Acts 1:1-11:
“…as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him...suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him going into heaven.”

And here it is again at the end of the Bible in Revelation. Christ Jesus coming “with the clouds” : the beginning and the end. the Alpha and the Omega.

“…made us to be a kingdom, priests..”.
This is Daniel, too – although not in our Sunday reading:
“…then judgment was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom.” (7:22)

We saw it already in Exodus 19:6. The people had escaped Egypt and had journeyed into the wilderness. This is God’s message to them: “Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation.”

And in the New Testament we hear this again. The author contrasts the followers of Jesus with those who rejected him.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

And we see it twice more in Revelation.
In the song of praise to the Lamb who was slain (sacrificed), Jesus, the writer sings:
“…you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them a kingdom and priests,
serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” (5:9-10)

And finally in Revelation 20:6 we hear:
“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

And this is why the Christus Rex – the image of Christ the King – that hangs in our sanctuary, shows Jesus reigning from the cross, crowned and wearing priestly garments.
But we see him reigning from the cross. That is his eternally royal throne.
That is why the cross is forever honored; it is where Jesus’ kingship and his priesthood are most clearly revealed.

This IS what God’s Kingship looks like.
This IS what Jesus’ priesthood looks like.
And ours looks the same.

“Offer yourselves, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” – as I urge us all every single Sunday.

God revealed in Jesus is not King of kings and Lord of lords by domination, or by cruelty, or by force, but by unending sacrificial love. Christ the King reigns eternally by rescuing, redeeming, freeing the whole universe – everything and everyone. This is the truth to which Jesus came into the world to testify.
And it is our immense privilege to share in that royal priesthood, if only we will dare to do it.



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