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March 2014 - The Crucified King

The Crucified King

When it comes to exalted nicknames, some kings hit the jackpot. Who wouldn’t want to be remembered with a glorious name similar to “Alexander the Great” or “William the Conqueror” or “Richard the Lion-heart?” “Wise King Solomon” and “Good King Hezekiah” are two biblical examples that are not too shabby as well.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the evangelist paints with words the portrait of a royal figure—our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings. But Jesus is not presented in a way most kings would want to be remembered. He is not presented as “Jesus the Great” or “Jesus the Mighty.” Instead, St. Matthew presents to us a lowly king who is rejected and betrayed. A king who is denied and condemned. A king who is mocked, forsaken, crucified and buried. If you had to give him a king’s nickname based on St. Matthew’s portrayal of Him in the Gospel, The Crucified King would certainly be appropriate.

That’s good to hear because that’s exactly the kind of king we need him to be. Ever since the fall, we all might be described as “Wannabe kings.” We’ve rebelled against this King, putting ourselves first and God last. We have this king-sized inclination to be served rather than to serve. Our greatest need is not for a king whose glory is shown in His impressive power or strength, but chiefly in showing mercy to sinners. And that’s exactly the kind of king St. Matthew presents.

The theme for this year’s Lenten series derives from one of the ideas dominant in St. Matthew’s Gospel—that Jesus is the King. Lent is a penitential season where God’s baptized people celebrate their Baptism through repentance and faith in this King. It is a season where we prepare with joy for the Paschal Feast (Easter) that celebrates this King being raised from the dead for our justification. Jesus is God’s greatness in the flesh, the ultimate conqueror, who is truly God’s Lion-hearted One. Yet He is willing to be a king despised and dishonored, that we might be considered great in God’s Kingdom. He desired that we be eternally crowned with glory, so His head was pierced with sharp thorns. He was willing to be devoured by jaws of eternal death and rise again, so that you might joyfully eat His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation and be glorified with this King’s own majestic glory.

In the beginning of the Gospel, the Magi came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews?” They asked because it wasn’t obvious. He was where human reason would never expect Him—in a humble home, in a humble town, served by His humble mother. Toward the end of the Gospel, Pilate also must ask Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He asks because it wasn’t obvious. But so that we don’t miss Him and all His benefits, St. Matthew identifies our merciful King of kings and Lord of lords, who goes where human reason would never expect a king to go—high and lifted up on a cross, bearing away the sin of the world, so that He could triumph over it in the resurrection. All so that you might be baptized and received the exalted title of “Sons of God.”

Pastor

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