Posts Tagged ‘Christ the King’

Who Do You Say He Is?

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

First Sunday of Advent-HL,
November 27th, 2016
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church,
http://www.tlcsd.org and
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
http://orlcsd.org

Click here for audio of this message

“And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.” [Jeremiah 23:6b]

img_0040Who do you say Jesus is? This maybe the most important question you could be asked, and it is critical that you not only know the answer, but that you believe it. Today, many people love to give an answer that they feel comfortable with; an answer that won’t offend and offers hope in a way that they feel will be most appreciated. But God will not allow you to be comfortable with any answer but His own. Jesus is not simply your source of strength in trying times; Jesus is not your illustration to prove a political point; Jesus is not your last resource in desperate times. You see, Jesus alone is your only source of righteousness before God the Father; Jesus is our righteousness.

This morning, if you say that Jesus is your King, well very good, but what do you mean by that?

You see, He is more that just someone great who rules over your life. He is more than “your” king. By His birth He is the Son of David, and the people who called out to Him in our Gospel lesson (Matthew 21:1-9), were correct in acknowledging Him as their true King. But He is oh so much more that the King of the Jews.

He is a king indeed, and there is none other like Him; He has a kingdom that is not of this world, and it is the type of Kingship that will last forever. The subjects of other kings must humbly come to them, but this King comes to His subjects, humbly seated upon a donkey. Other kings draw all of their income from their subjects, but this King gives all that He has and is to a people who do not seek Him, nor do they care to know Him as He truly is.

This King has a proper title that also defines His person; He is the Christ. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which we translate as Messiah. Both words mean “the Anointed One,” or if you prefer “the Crowned One,” or better yet, “the King.” It was the Jewish name for the Lord who God had promised through the prophets. It was upon His shoulders that the government would rest, and His Kingdom would be established and upheld “with righteousness for this time forth and forevermore.”

When the people shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13), this was a tribute to the Messiah of God. The church today offers the same tribute to our Lord today, on this first Sunday in Advent, and also on Palm Sunday. The lessons for this Sunday say the same as our own Hosanna: Jesus is the Christ, He is God’s Messiah, the Promised One that will come again, our King, the Lord of the whole creation. He alone is our righteousness!

“So you are a king?” Pilate asked. And Jesus answered: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world.” It was no accident that Jesus was born of the lineage of David, of royal blood. And yet He was not Just a descendant of royalty. He himself says to the Pharisees that even David called Him Lord. This King existed in the time of David, and even before Abraham was, and He is Lord over all. All of history before and after His birth had its goal in Him. Since humankind has risen in defiance of God, God has planned this way—the only possible way of salvation for His children. In the fullness of time God sent His Son. All of the long preparation of Israel has its meaning only because it pointed forward and prepared the way for Christ.

Through the entrance of Christ into the world something decisive took place in history. And it is a this place that every human being is forced to make a decision. To answer the one great question: Who do you say that He is? We can either confess with St. Peter that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God or we can scoff at the question and turn down God’s great invitation to turn to this Christ and His cross for eternal life.

The enemies of Jesus felt that this was a place where commitment was called for. Their chief accusation against Him was: He claims to be the Messiah, a king. For a long time they did their level best to avoid the question of who Jesus is. When they were face to face with the power of His mighty acts they declared that He was in league with the devil and that He practiced sorcery. Finally the high priest asked a direct question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And when Jesus answered that He was, they condemned Him to death. [Mark 14:61] They really had only two choices, the same choices we have; either they must acclaim Him as King and Messiah, or they must declare that He was a liar and a blasphemer. The high priest chose the latter rather than the former. Which do you choose? They would not submit to the power of Jesus, will you?

How you make your choice depends on if you see Jesus as your only source of righteousness; that is if you see Him as the only way you can be acceptable before a perfect and mighty God.

This morning, the psalmist (Psalm 24), asks us a very important question: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” And before we can have time to formulate an answer, He gives it to us: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” Is there any hope for you; can you accomplish these things? Did you know that it is God’s deepest desire for you that you will? God is so serious about having you ascend to His place reserved for you, this paradise restored, that He encourages you with these promised blessings once you arrive: “He (who ascends) will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Is God speaking to you? Yes, He is. Listen: “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” The time is now, and the generation is yours, and all you must do is seek Him in the way He can be found.

This morning, God declares to you that if you can not boldly declare that you are the person who can stand before Him with out guilt or fear, if you are not the person with clean hands and someone who has no deceit in them, then you are almost ready to ascend the holy hill of the Lord. All that you lack is God’s provision to be righteous before Him. And now, hear the good news: Jesus is that provision’ Jesus is your King and source of righteousness.

Jesus is called the King of glory because he is true God and because he has defeated all the enemies of God’s people. He came in glory when he entered the world as a baby, born to die for our sins, but his glory was concealed, except to the eyes of faith. Many of the people of Israel did not recognize Christ’s glory when he came, and they still refuse to welcome him today. When Jesus entered the gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he received a royal welcome, but it was superficial and short-lived—yet he will not be deprived of the honor due him.

When the psalmist urges the gates of Jerusalem to open wide so that the King may enter, he is really inviting all of God’s people to welcome their King with joy when he comes. Jesus comes in glory now through the gospel, and we welcome him with joy when we receive that Word in faith. Jesus’ glory will be more openly displayed when he comes to judge the world. When Jesus returns, the angels will gather all believers so that all of us can welcome him. [1 Thessalonians 4:14] When Jesus returns in glory, He will receive from his people a royal welcome that will last forever.

But how do you know that you are counted as one of His people? Because you have been baptized in His name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And because of this work of God, you have both a desire and an ability given through the Word of God to not only know this King, but to be numbered as one of His beloved. In Holy Baptism, you put on Christ, or rather, He was put on you. On that day the Holy Spirit of God began to dwell in you richly. And now God, invites you to daily “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, (or) to gratify its desires.” [Romans 13:14] That is everyday, you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life that glorifies and pleases God.

In holy baptism Jesus brings you into His rule of righteousness.

The effect of His rule of righteousness is promised to be dramatic. Judah would be saved; Israel would dwell in safety. These are pictures of confidence, certainty, and peace. Such security and well-being are conveyed along with the righteousness of Christ, the forgiveness of sins given to every repentant baptized sinner. This picture describes the peace that the work of Christ brings to the believing child of God. The believer has peace because of the final word of Christ’s promise.

The cause of their peace and its guarantee, its true character, are revealed by the name that the Lord gives to the Messiah: The Lord Our Righteousness. This is the whole gospel, the whole message of Scripture, summed up in a few precious words. The Lord himself is our righteousness. For that to be true, the Lord himself must have become one of us, having taken all that we are upon himself.

These words point us to the Christmas miracle of the incarnation, the Word of God made human flesh. But they also point to that most comforting truth: not only is the Messiah righteous in himself, but through his perfect life of obedience, His suffering and death and rising to life, He won for us justification and reconciliation with God, through the forgiveness of sins. What He is and what He has done, he has done for us, and it is given to us a gift, the gift of righteousness, a righteousness that we could never have gained for ourselves. Here is the way that allows you to ascend God’s Holy hill; here is the door that opens paradise and keeps it open: The Lord is our righteousness; yes, the Lord is my righteousness; the Lord is your righteousness. What He did, He did for you. And this is what He gives to you in holy baptism: He has made you His own. This is your certainty, your hope, your confidence: the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Now that you know God’s only answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”, it is time for you to answer for yourself. What God has spoken and done here today is for your own eternal salvation; that is, your eternal salvations depends on the answer that you give. And so Christ asks you here and now: “But who do you say that I am?” [Mark 16:15]

The King’s Judgment is Final!


Monday, November 21st, 2016

Last Sunday of the Church Year-HL, November 20th, 2016
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church,

http://www.tlcsd.org and
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
http://orlcsd.org

Click here for audio of this message

” Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. ” [Matthew 25:1-2]

cross theologyThe Last Sunday of the Church year always gives us hope; hope in the eternal life and the Paradise that is prepared and waiting for us. But inevitably some will always focus on the judgment and condemnation rather than the picture of hope. They seem to bypass the message of joy that awaits us when we join Jesus, our Christ and King, and instead they focus on the foolish or condemned, which is personified in verse 12 of our reading: “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”

So with this in mind let’s address immediately why Jesus says to one group that waits for His return that He does not know them.

Those who wait for eternal life can be divided into two different groups, the foolish and wise. What separates the two? In Jesus story it is the lack of or the presence of oil for their lamps.

Both groups of virgins wanted to be at the wedding banquet. Both had lamps and the desire to use them, but only the ones with working lit lamps actually made it into the banquet. Friends, the oil in the lamp represents God’s grace; His undeserved forgiveness for our many sins. And this oil or grace must be purchased or received only as God has determined. “But isn’t God’s grace free” you may counter? Well certainly it’s free, but you have to have it working for you in order to benefit from it! How?

Well in Jesus story, you had to by oil for your lamp ahead of time. If the oil represents God’s grace then the money to buy the oil represents God’s Word and Sacraments! Friends, in order to live within and under grace we must be in God’s Word, because it is only through His Word that you will be able to believe and live out the truth that God’s forgiveness and mercy are truly yours; that you are already judged righteous and worthy to enter Paradise. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of (Jesus) Christ!” [Romans 10:17]

The five wise virgins were proven wise because they acquired and used the oil. What would have happened if they bought the oil, but never used it? They too would have remained outside, separated from the wedding banquet. They would have been just as foolish as the other five. So the oil, or faith in Jesus is the evidence that your mansion in paradise is waiting for you. To understand what Paradise will be like let’s allow the Prophet Isaiah to show us.

Through Isaiah, God has given each of us a glimpse at His new heavens and earth; it’s a paradise that is so unique, so beautiful, so wondrous, that the “former things (of this world) shall not be remembered” (Is 65:17).

In this new creation, neither the sound of weeping nor the cries of fear nor pain will be heard (v 19). This glorious new life in Christ will never be cut short by death. Predator and prey will dwell together in harmony: “the wolf and the lamb shall graze together” (v 25). Carnivores would once again be herbivores: “the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (v 25). Once again, animals will live together in peace. People will live in peace. People and animals will once again walk together without fear of each other. Just as God had created the original creation, so there will be no destruction or violence in this new world. There will be no crime or terrorism. “They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,’ says the Lord” (v 25). In this creation, God will preserve mankind and the angels from falling into sin. Never again will sin, Satan, or death threaten God’s creation.

This new creation isn’t just a future hope, but it’s also a present reality. Christ has completed the work of the new creation upon the cross. Already, right now, you are a new creation. You’re no longer bound by sin and death. With new life created by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament, the old has passed away for you. St Paul says it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

We live in the time of “now, but not yet.” God’s new creation is a present reality for us, but the totality of His new creation has not yet been revealed to us. As a result, the old sinful Adam still lives alongside your new baptized nature in a constant daily struggle. We can plainly see that we live in a world ripe with the consequences of sin, a world engulfed with the division and suffering that won’t exist in the new world. And as we experience the consequences of sin—sickness, suffering, pain, and death—all of creation groans right along with us as we await the redemption of our bodies. [Romans 8:22–23]

What the Lord describes through Isaiah is simply the mixing of the New Testament church in this world with the church triumphant in eternity. Old Testament prophets often viewed the future without distinctly specifying the first or second coming of the Messiah. It’s as if Isaiah saw the church as a great mansion with a massive courtyard around it. The mansion itself represents the home of the church triumphant and at rest, the eternal Jerusalem that waits for all believers. The courtyard is gated and walled because the Lord protects all within. Yet those in the courtyard have not yet entered the mansion. They wait because they represent the church in action, believers who still live in this world. God’s prophets see them both at once. But once we leave this broken sinful world where the courtyard exists and enter the King’s mansion in paradise, we won’t remember the former troubles and difficulties that we leave behind. We will be glad and rejoice forever! We know that this new Paradise restored exists and is waiting for us because God has said so. Although we wonder about it and sometimes have doubts while we wait in the courtyard, God has devised a way to help us wait in confidence. We wait by faith, which is always created by God’s Word and Sacraments and sustained in prayer.

We live sustained by the Word of God and prayer. We listen to the Lord as he speaks to us in His Word. When we face trouble, heartache, and danger, we don’t wait alone, but we wait together as the church, as a congregation, and we wait in prayer. Verse 24 provides powerful encouragement to pray; listen: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” As we believers wait in God’s courtyard, we call out to Him in every trouble. And He promises to hear our prayer and respond!

But as we wait we also have one eye always on the judgment of Christ the King. This judgment will always loom with a degree of fear, but God does not desire us to be afraid or uncertain about our own judgment but instead we are to be afraid for those who do not wait in the same faith that sustains us. This is why we gladly give our witness of God’s love to all who are willing to hear. So what does God’s Word say about the final judgment? Well…

The Final Judgment is just that… final!

There will be a day of judgment, “because (God) has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed.” [Acts 17:31] It will come for all of us, and on that day, Jesus the Son of Man “will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations.” [Matthew 25:31] Before Him will be gathered all peoples and all ethnicities. And all who are in their graves will arise and be gathered before Him.

This will be the final judgment. None beyond this will be held. There is no higher court so to speak, that a person may appeal to. That day “when God has endured with much patience” all the evil of the world will come to an end. There will be a separation forever from God for those who would not come to Christ, and the door to paradise will be closed forever.

And what about the judgment? Well, it will be carried out in accordance with the deeds we have done. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one (of us) may receive good or evil, according to what (we have done) in the body.” [2 Corinthians 5:10] But scripture also states that this judgment will be given out according to our faith in Jesus. For Jesus clearly says, “… he who believes in (Me) has eternal life.” [John 3:15] Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish and will not be brought to condemnation.

There is no contradiction in this. Our deeds are the kind of work that we do by faith. Our works reveal whether there is faith or not. And among those things that God seeks of us and expects of us is that we should believe in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ Whom He has sent. When we ask what should we do to do the works of God, Jesus answers, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.” [John 6:29] And to love God above all else, which is the chief commandment; this can only be done through Jesus Christ.

But we must remember that neither our love for God nor our love for our neighbor will ever be so strong that we can stand innocent of guilt before the judgment seat of God. This is why in Christ, God has atoned for all of our sins and has made it possible for us by faith in Christ to be partakers both of forgiveness and eternal life. To be found with faith in Christ then is first and foremost.

With Christ, life and good deeds will always follow. The thief on the cross could no longer do good, yet he was saved. But the person who has an opportunity to serve his neighbor for the sake of Christ will always do just that; it will simply be natural. A person of faith doesn’t think highly of his own deeds, and you won’t even bring it up on the day of judgment. You will be surprised and shocked when you hear about all of your good works that God was pleased with. But for now, we simply live life here in the courtyard as poor sinners who hope for mercy for the sake of Christ. And because of this grace centered thinking that is focused “on Christ,” we dear saints remember that in Christ there is no condemnation. [Romans 8:1]

And so we wait with one foot in the courtyard, which we can call the “church in action” and another foot in the King’s mansion, which we can call paradise, or the church triumphant and at rest. And while we wait, we are ever watchful because we do not know the hour that our King and Lord Jesus Christ will call us home and speak the judgment: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy (and rest) of your Master.” [Matthew 25:21]

The Peace of Christ’s Kingdom

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

26th Sunday after Pentecost C, November 21, 2010
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Click here for audio of this message

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  But what is the Kingdom of God and how is God’s will done?  First, we must understand that God’s Kingdom certainly does come with or without our power.  In fact, for the last few weeks we have been reading about His Kingdom of Power, when Christ shall come to judge and recreate all of creation into a new Kingdom, a Kingdom of Glory.  And there is yet another Kingdom, a Kingdom of Grace, which you dear saints are held secure in by God’s Power and His glory.  It is this Kingdom of grace which brings you God’s will for your life, and that is peace!  Peace seems to be well out of sight, and yet God’s Word clearly teaches us that we do have peace right now?  But how?  Well let’s allow God’s Word to answer that.  In Psalm 34 we are encouraged to “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” We are told that “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” [Psalm 34:8] 

Did you know that before I came to Trinity as your pastor I had never tasted sweet potato pie?!   Coming from the Midwest, we eat pumpkin pie.  To me, sweet potato pie was a crude imitation of good old pumpkin pie.  No sir, you would never get me to eat that sweet potato pie; “Uh ah, aint gonna happen!” I said.  But one day right here at Trinity, at a pot luck dinner, I picked up what I thought was pumpkin pie, and I had a big old slice.  I remember telling my wife that that particular piece of pumpkin pie was the best I ever tasted.  Well my wife smiled at me and said, “Dear that is sweet potato pie!”  Ever since then, as we say around these parts, “I can eat me some sweet potato pie!”  Oh taste and see dear saints, that the Lord is good!  Don’t you know friends that you have to be in the Word of God in order to know His goodness; in order to know the peace that he brings?  So we see peace with God and peace with ourselves and our neighbors always comes through the Word of God!

But some people don’t want to taste the Lord; they don’t want to be in His Word because they’ve heard that it says that a man who was born in a manger and died like a thief upon a cross is the King of all creation.  They’ve heard tell about portions of scripture like our epistle lesson this morning, that say Jesus is God!  Listen: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” [Colossians 1:15-20]  Sadly for some the very thought of Jesus being King and God, their King and God is just too much.  Like me and the sweet potato pie, they will not taste and see that the Lord is good! 

In our gospel reading this morning, we discover three groups of people and two different reactions to Jesus, who is Christ the King. 

Our first group of people are the women of Jerusalem.  As Jesus is led out carrying His own cross to Golgotha, our reading says that a great multitude of people and many women were there along the roadside mourning and lamenting for him.  And Jesus, exhausted and in great pain turns and says, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” [vs. 29] Now that seems strange.  First if it were you or me carrying that cross, we wouldn’t have the strength to say anything, let alone give an encrypted warning.  But Jesus is not just like you and me.  Oh he is human flesh to be sure, but he is also something so much more… He is God!  And God is always concerned about our eternal salvation.  God does not wish that anyone should perish, but that all would turn to the Lord, taste the Lord, and experience His peace and live!  These women sobbed for Jesus as a good man in pain who would soon be dead; they were moved by their emotions and the passion and suffering of Jesus the man!  But they failed to hear in His teachings that He is the God-man, their creator; the author and perfecter of their faith.  Such tears are a complete waste to Jesus, so He orders them, “Stop weeping over me and weep over yourselves and your children.”  Jesus knew that these women weren’t weeping over the sins of their leaders, they weren’t weeping for the sins of the crowd that demanded His death, and they weren’t weeping over their own sins that God said demanded death.  Jesus knew that they would never have this kind of sorrow and repentance unless they first saw their sins and then knew Him as God’s only means of forgiveness; they needed to see Him as their Savior and King!   

Well, the next group of people we must look at are the very ones that brought Jesus to this painful torture and death.  They are the religious leaders of the Jewish society, the Sanhedrin.  They wanted a leader and a king alright, but not one that would replace their authority.  They wanted a king that would destroy Roman rule and set them up as the true authority.  But this “man” Jesus only wanted to talk about the rule and authority of God.  He kept insinuating that He was God!  No He must be removed so that someone they could control could come and destroy Roman rule.  So they instructed the crowd to scream, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” And the Roman Governor of Judea heard and answered.  He answered by complying with their request.  It seems that this is another group of people that would not and could not taste and experience the peace of God!  But Jesus, God the Son who could have struck them dead does just the opposite… He prays for them.  “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [vs. 34]  If they only would have really listened to God speak to them in Scripture and Heard Jesus Word’s they would have known who Jesus is. Jesus prays forgiveness yes, but He also prays that they will have life by knowing God’s grace.

Soon, when Jesus rose from the dead, they would know the truth about who He was and is, and then they alone would bear the responsibility for their many sins.  But Jesus wanted so badly for them and us to know that through His cross they could truly find forgiveness and peace with God!  Would they know, would they receive the truth that as Jesus hung upon the very cross that they placed Him on He was bringing forth the very means that would bring them eternal life?  Would they taste the Lord and know the peace of His kingdom of grace?

Well the next class of people that we need to look at are the two thieves that were hung on the cross next to Jesus!  For a moment in your minds eye, picture hundreds of people gathered around Jesus’ cross and the two thieves next to Him on either side, and then hear the crowd and the thieves taunting Him by saying something like, “So there hangs Jesus, King of the Jews huh?  Hey Jesus, you saved others so let’s see you save yourself!”  They couldn’t spit on Him anymore, but they could taunt Him and attack Him with their vicious and cowardly tongues!  And after one of the thieves heard the crowd and leaders shouting about how Jesus saved people, he thought as only a desperate man will think, “Maybe he’ll save me too from this painful and certain death.  It’s worth a try!”  And so he shouts at Jesus saying, “(Aren’t) you the Christ (that they’re talking about)?  (Well then) save yourself and save us!” 

This first thief who speaks is a big mouth; unrepentant sinners always are!  He wanted Jesus to be his Savior, but he wanted Him to be a Savior on his terms.  He wanted Jesus to free him from the agony of the cross.  He wanted life, but he wanted his old life, not the new kind of life that Jesus promised.  Why?  So he could go right back to his life of sin!  In essence, he wanted to cheat justice!  He wanted temporary salvation.

But the second thief doesn’t join in with the other’s taunts; instead he rebukes the loud mouth next to him with the fear of God.  Listen: “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed (deserve it), for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Why did this thief rebuke the first thief this way?  May I be so bold as to say that if we were to list the good works of this man’s life, this would be first on the list?  And what was this work?  It was the work of repentance; a turning to Jesus for life and salvation.  You see friends, when you turn to Jesus you also turn away from your sin!  One thief is unrepentant and will pay for his many sins and the other is repentant.  And this repentance always leads to confession and salvation.  Do you remember his confession?  He said, “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds!”  In other words, he is saying “We have sinned!”  But after his confession comes a powerful prayer; the sinner’s prayer: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  In these Words, this repentant thief is saying, “Remember me O Heavenly King; include me and do not bar me from your presence because of my many sins when you come into your kingdom!”  And to this confession and request for forgiveness, Jesus declares the absolution: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 

Yes friends, it was faith in the real Jesus, the Son of God that moved this thief above his fear and suffering to believe that Jesus was his King, the only King that could bring God’s peace.  But how did this happen?  How did he in such a short time taste and know the peace of God?  Well, how does faith always come?  It comes through God’s means, His Holy Word and the cross of Jesus Christ!  Think of how many sinners over the centuries have echoed that thief’s prayer, “Remember me!”  Faith, that wonderful gift from God has always come through the Word and it alone enables sinners to rest in that prayer.  On the cross that day, God the Father handed his dying Son a prize of victory in the repentance and salvation of this thief.  The dying soul of a sinner was refreshed by the King who came to seek and save the lost!

Oh friends, by faith through the Living Word of God continue to come to God’s Word and taste and see, taste and know that the Lord is good! In His Word taste and know the Kingdom of God and the peace of God, a peace that surpasses all understanding and let every part of your life be transformed by that peace.  Take all of your pain, suffering and fear, and lay them at the foot of the cross.  Bring them into the light of God’s love, and like the repentant thief you too will be with your King Jesus in Paradise.  May we daily hunger for this peace, and I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!