In Today’s Reading…, Palm Sunday (C) – 2001
April 08, 2001
In today’s reading from Isaiah, God is called Lord and Savior, “to whom every knee shall bow” (Isaiah 45:23). In the Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul applies these attributes to Jesus. The Passion story from St. Luke affirms both the saving power of Jesus and his Kingship, his Lordship over all. What does it mean that Jesus is Savior and Lord of all? We seem to have a very good grasp of our need for salvation, and readily accept that part of our faith; but what about being subjects of someone who is our Master? Is that part of it really necessary?
Many of the prayers in The Book of Common Prayer end with a reference to Jesus as Savior, but most of them end with a reference to Jesus as Lord. Isn’t it interesting that so many Christians spend most of their prayer life acknowledging Jesus as Savior, but give only lip service to the idea of Jesus as Lord. Perhaps it stems from the fact that most modern day Christians are not subject to the absolute authority of any lord or ruler; and really do not understand what it means to have an absolute ruler. Yet that is exactly the life Christians live.
The prophecies of the Old Testament spoke of longing for the reign of the Messiah King, the Savior Lord. John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New Testament prophets, proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus proclaimed himself to be the Messiah King and the Gospels and writings of the New Testament echo that proclamation. If, by his Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ redeemed all of creation and therefore was placed over it as sovereign Lord and King by God the Father, then what we live in now is the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is not perfected for it is not yet complete, but it is moving toward that perfection and will achieve it in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. However, the Kingdom of God does exist and everyone who is baptized into Christ Jesus is baptized into that kingdom. If we live in the kingdom as its citizens through baptism, then we must be subjects of its Lord and Master.
What does it mean for us to be subjects of the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? This is not a limited monarchy–it is absolute! The prophet Daniel wrote,” To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14) In the second reading for today, St. Paul writes that, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). There is no room in Christ’s kingdom for the “loyal opposition.” The only way to live in this kingdom is to continually strive to obey the Lord Jesus, which means not setting our own course, but rather, doing what the Lord Jesus wants us to do. But maybe that is not such a bad thing to have happen. St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans “in all things God works for the good of those who love him. We have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Maybe striving to adhere to God’s purpose for each of us sets us free within the kingdom. Perhaps the freedom that we have in the kingdom is the freedom to seek God through the Lord and King, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Maybe striving to do God’s will is really the best thing for each of us. The writer of Revelation taught that Jesus Christ loves us and “freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.” (Revelation 1:6)
Accepting Jesus as our Savior is only half of the picture of salvation. The other part of it means that in everything we think, do, and feel we should be striving to act in accordance with the will of God that is in Jesus Christ. It means lining up our individual wills with the will of Jesus. The saying, “What would Jesus do?” should be an intimate part of our spiritual life and action. We should not use it in reference to what other people are doing, but rather, in relation to what we are doing, thinking, feeling. In other words, we are to live as kingdom people. To live this way does not mean that we will not have problems, or sorrow, or sin. What it does mean is that we are called to live Christ in us. To live Christ means that at each juncture of our daily lives we are to strive to think, act, feel what Jesus would think, act, feel. To live with Jesus as Lord and Master means that our faith is alive and that we are living our lives in the knowledge of that larger framework of Christ’s redemptive act. It means to dwell in the sure knowledge of God’s unfathomable love for us, in the sure knowledge that we are called to live as God’s sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, and we are called to share in God’s life. It means that we are called to live in the freedom of the kingdom of Christ. The only way to achieve it is by responding to the grace of God in Jesus Christ and by striving to live in the manner that Jesus modeled for us. It is right here, ever since Jesus Christ, it is has been right here, right within our grasp. All we have to do is reach out and let the hand of Christ guide us. Amen.
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