Monday, November 26, 2012

Sermon Cliff Note: NOKK

(Not Our Kind of King)
(Readings: Revelation 1.4b-8 & John 18.33-37)

Christ the King greets us.  Who is this King?  This King loves (note the present tense) us . . . the real us, not his idea of us, not our idea of us, but as-we-are us . . . And just as this king loves us, we are to love others . . . Just as this king freed us, we are to free others . . . Just as this king invited us into his service, so too are we to invite others . . . This king loves us . . .
And he is coming . . . or rather coming back . . . and everybody will see him, even those who pierced (killed) him . . . and everybody will wail . . .
That doesn’t sound much like good-news love, does it?
But the one who wrote Revelation knew his Old Testament.  “The ones who pierced him” is a reference to Zecheriah 12.10, “I (God) will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that when they look on me (God) whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child . . .”
The injustices of the people in Zecheriah are likened to the wounding or murder of God’s very self!  The result?  A judgment of compassion and sorrow . . . the people will be brought to their senses and they will mourn for what they have done to others, and realize that what they have done to others, they have done to God’s very self.
Zecheriah doesn’t stop there: on that very day (the day the people are filled with mourning and regret for their sins) “a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them. . .”
In Zecheriah, the day the people kill God is the day of their redeeming by the very God they ‘killed’!  And so too for us!
This is the kind of King we serve!  A King who dies that we might live . . . who is captured that we might be freed . . . who is destroyed that we might be created anew . . .
This is the King who appears before Pontius Pilate after he has already appeared before the religious rulers of his time and place . . .
Both the religious and the political find this King not only wanting, but also dangerous . . . so dangerous that killing him isn’t enough . . . this is the Roman Empire, remember . . . killing was something they did well. . . but for this King, killing alone wouldn’t do . . . there had to be a show trial and mockery and torture . . .
What kind of threat could this man of peace have possibly been to an empire?  He asks nothing of Rome.  Maybe that’s the problem: he doesn’t need Rome, but insists that Rome needs him.
Over and over and over again, Jesus tells us that his Kingship is of a very different kind . . . when, oh when, he asks time and again, will we understand?
When will those among us who crave God’s judgment (as long as it’s on everybody else) understand that Jesus came to save, not condemn the world?
When will we understand that when we try to make Jesus into our image, he runs and hides (read John 6.15, if you doubt me: immediately after feeding the 5,000, the people tried to grab Jesus and force him to be their earthly king.  Jesus’ response?  To flee to the mountains to be alone).
Why do we insist that Jesus’ second coming will be so very different than the first?
Do we really believe that the God who came as an infant, who fled from earthly visions of power and glory, who served others even unto death, who sits as a lamb upon the throne in heaven is coming back like a roaring, flesh-eating lion?
It is important that we understand who our King is that we may understand who we are.  The King we serve is who we become . . .
If we are lions, it is because we have no understanding of the Lamb.
If we are destroyers, it is because this Jesus is NOKK . . . not our kind of king.
Lucky for us, the King who so easily recognizes that we are not his kind of people has claimed us anyway . . . taking the hardness of our hearts and melting it into compassion . . . turning us into God’s kind of people after all . . .
Behold the Lamb upon his Throne!
Behold and be changed!

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