Home > Piles in my office > Christ’s Kingdom. Advent Midweek 3, 2015

Christ’s Kingdom. Advent Midweek 3, 2015


Advent Midweek 3

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Psalm 72

December 16, 2015

“Christ’s Kingdom”

 

Iesu Iuva

Psalm 72 describes the kingdom of the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ. As we have heard, God had been promising His anointed One all throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, from the time Adam and Eve first fell into sin. He promised Abraham that the whole earth would be blessed through His offspring. He promised King David that one of his offspring would reign on David’s throne. In Psalm 72 Solomon prays for this king to come and prophesies about His Kingdom.

 

The Messiah’s Kingdom will be a kingdom of righteousness and justice. It will extend over all the earth, and it will never end.

 

In the first two verses of the Psalm, Solomon prays, Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! (v. 1-2) You may remember how, at the beginning of his reign, Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom, that he might rule the Israelites with justice. And the Scriptures tell us that Solomon’s father David was a man after God’s own heart. He not only hungered and thirsted for righteousness for himself, but he endeavored to rule and shepherd the people of Israel in righteousness and justice.

 

But David and Solomon were not the promised Messiah. They were men. They were sinners. David caused a plague to come upon the people of Israel when he disobeyed God and tried to have a census of the nation. Solomon was turned away from the Lord to the worship of idols by his many foreign wives. Though God worked through their reigns to preserve the nation of Israel and even blessed the nation through them, they did not judge God’s people in His perfect righteousness. They did not establish the justice of God on earth.

 

But God has answered Solomon’s prayer. He has sent His righteous One to be the King of Israel, and to rule His people with justice and righteousness. As another prophet proclaims to us in the Old Testament reading for Christmas Eve: Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end; [He will reign] on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. (Is. 9:7)

 

And that King is the one that Gabriel proclaimed to Mary, the Son of God who was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit working through the angel’s word. He is the king who ushers in a kingdom in which God’s righteousness reigns.

 

How does this King, Jesus, set up this kingdom in which God’s righteousness reigns? Verse 4 of the Psalm says: May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! The whole human race, of course, is poor, needy, and oppressed. We are by nature poor, needy, and destitute. The glory, life, and riches that God created us to have has been lost and squandered, like the prodigal son’s inheritance. We were created to bear God’s image, to reign over creation, to see His face. But since the disobedience in the Garden of Eden we have been cut off from the face of God. We are born in bondage to the devil, who deceived us. We are by nature slaves of sin, under the power of the grave, bound for the eternal torments of hell, and unable to free ourselves.

 

But now the King promised to Mary has defended the cause of the poor, given deliverance to the children of the needy, and crushed the oppressor.

 

He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. He laid aside His glory and was born a man, born in the likeness of a man enslaved to sin and death. He put away His glory and put on the image of our mortality and weakness. He did this so that He might stand before God as our defender, covering us with His righteousness, presenting us justified before God in the face of the devil’s accusations. He made our sin and weakness, our death and hell His covering when He became man, and He gives us His righteousness and glory as a free gift in the Gospel and in Baptism.

 

In doing this He has delivered us from our sins and from the oppression of the ancient serpent. He has crushed the serpent’s head by taking away his power to accuse us before God. All our sins He made His own. His holy obedience to God’s law, His righteousness is reckoned to us.

 

Thus in His Kingdom righteousness reigns. Everyone who is in His Kingdom is clothed and covered with the righteousness of Christ. Everyone who believes in Jesus, the Son of God, that he is righteous because of Jesus’ obedience, is in Christ’s Kingdom. That kingdom is invisible to our eyes now. It comes to us in the Word and Sacraments, but those who possess Christ’s Kingdom are those who believe the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. That faith is invisible. But soon the kingdom of Jesus will be visible, when He appears again in His glory. Then those who belong to His Kingdom, who believe in Him, will also be visible. For you have died, and your life is in hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:3-4) That is why we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” We are praying that Jesus’ Kingdom would extend to more people, that they would believe the gracious news of the Gospel. But we are also praying that Jesus would come, reveal His face, and let His Church appear as it really is—as sons and heirs of God.

 

Jesus’ Kingdom is a Kingdom of Righteousness. Everyone who is in His kingdom is righteous before God. And His Kingdom is not a little, weak kingdom, although it appears that way in this world. His grace extends through the whole earth. Wherever the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection is preached, His kingdom sprouts there. Believers in Christ are born by the Holy Spirit. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth (v.6)! That is what Christ’s Gospel does. It is like a rain cloud passing across the earth. Wherever it drops down its moisture it brings life. And that is our comfort as members of His church when our numbers seem few and we seem weak and miserable. Actually we are members of a great nation, which no one can number, of every tribe and language and people and nation. Throughout the last two thousand years, all across the world, Christ has been gathering people into His Kingdom, the Church. We are united with all believers in Christ who have ever lived, including those who are in heaven. We are not bound together by ideas or common interests like the organizations of this world. We are bound together as one body and share one Spirit. We are baptized into one flesh and blood, and we participate, commune in the one body and blood of Jesus the Son of God.

 

Christ’s kingdom is great and wide. It spreads across the whole earth and through all of history, because Jesus is the King of all the earth. The Father has given Him all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28) as He told His disciples before sending them to make disciples of all nations. The whole earth is His and all people are His, because He has redeemed them all by taking up their flesh and being condemned for their sins on the cross. And now is the time of grace, where He extends His gracious offer of salvation to all men through the Gospel. But the day is coming soon when He will return again. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:41-43) On that day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

But even now His kingdom extends to the ends of the earth; men from every tribe and nation and people have been brought into His Kingdom. May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him…Long may He live; may gold of Sheba be given to Him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for Him all the day! (v. 10-11, 15) This prayer has been fulfilled. Christ’s Name has been proclaimed to the ends of the earth, and daily in His Church the nations worship and praise the name of Jesus Christ, from the coastlands of Europe and America, to the lands of Sheba and Seba, present day Ethiopia, to the desert tribes, to the farthest regions of Asia. Christ’s kingdom of righteousness extends over all the earth.

 

And His Kingdom will never end. It will endure forever. Not even the gates of hell—the power of Satan and his demons, with all their fury and hatred—will prevail against Christ’s Kingdom, the Church. This is a great comfort to us as our members pass into glory and our numbers grow smaller in this congregation. Not the world, not secularism, not all the forces of godlessness in this age, not even Satan with all his rage will destroy the Kingdom of Jesus, which we have a share in through faith in Him.

 

Throughout history nations and kingdoms have risen and fallen. One nation rises up and rules for a century or two and then fades away into obscurity. But the Kingdom of the Christ, the Son of David, will never end, as the angel Gabriel announced to Mary: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:31-33 And the Psalm says In his days…may peace abound, till the moon be no more…may his name endure forever, his fame as continue as long as the sun (v. 7, 17)

 

Christ’s kingdom will endure to the end of this age; the Church will abound in peace and righteousness through the Gospel and Sacraments in which Jesus bestows on us righteousness and peace with God. The enemies of His Kingdom will never overthrow Him nor plunder and destroy the citizens of His kingdom.

 

And when the moon is no more, the sun grows dark in the heavens, and the stars fall from the sky, when everything in this present age is destroyed by fire, the Kingdom of Jesus will still endure. It will stand forever. Then the King will appear in His glory. And we who are sons and heirs of God will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of the heavenly Father. For this reason we pray continually with the whole church of Christ, “Thy Kingdom Come!”

 

Amen.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Categories: Piles in my office
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