Reign of Christ Sunday- Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25:31-46
It’s a surprising place to see Christ. Both the sheep and the goats are surprised by how they’ve interacted with, or ignored, the Lord. ‘We didn’t know you were with those whom we were helping; we didn’t know you were with those whom we ignored.’
God’s favor is on the lowly—not the one we praise as ‘blessed.’ Not the powerful, the rich, the ones with influence or ability. The king, Jesus Christ, identifies and sides with the lowly.
What does it mean that the King of the Universe, the sovereign God’s son, came as a baby born in a barn? That he came not as a warrior, lawmaker, or ruler, but as a teacher, healer, and political protester and as one who identifies with marginalized?
A wise man once held a tablet of stone that had at the top, “I AM the Lord your God, you shall have no other god’s before me.” An even wiser one, when asked what the greatest commandment is answered, “you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind…and love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s hard to keep God at the top. We tend toward putting our trust in more immediate things—in things that seem closer to, or more like unto, ourselves.
God is the ruler, creator, redeemer and director of the universe. And yet we trust ourselves, our own reason and strengths, our own friends and authorities, to rule our lives. In the end, these all fall short. In the end, these lead to injustice and oppression. Trusting ourselves leads to exploiting God’s people—it breaks away at “love your neighbor as yourself” and it quickly erodes “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind.”
The thing is, when trust in God fades, and our trust gets placed on ourselves and on others, we become blind to Christ among us. We become blind to the one’s with whom Christ dwells.
Yet, when we see Christ as Lord, God as the only God, we begin to see others as they are, and we begin to see creation as a beautiful thing.
The reign of Christ is made clear for us when God alone is our God. We see Jesus and his love, when we worship God alone.
When you put aside love of self, and you fear and love God above all things, people become people. The hungry, thirsty, and strangers: you see; the naked, sick, and imprisoned: you recognize and treat as people. When God alone is God, Jesus is embraced in the “least of these” and the ones we’ve pushed to the margins. Jesus’ reign, the kingdom of God, is where he is—thirsting for justice, begging to be noticed, longing for love.
The good news today, God’s wonderful promise, we hear in Ezekiel. God says, “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
God dwells with us, in Jesus Christ—the Son of David, the Messiah. He feeds us with himself, washes us in the miracle of baptism, and gives us new life, renewed vigor, eyes that see him by faith. In him ignorance and injustice for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned are brought to light. In him, where there is death, life springs forth.
You are God’s sheep, God’s beloved one. Jesus, the Christ, who is the Sovereign ruler of the Universe, is with you always. The prince of peace, the light of the world, the crucified and risen king, is your shepherd. Draw to him, as he is always drawing close to you. By faith, see him and embrace him in people: in people who are hungry, thirsty, migrant, naked, sick, or imprisoned.
Christ is with his people. Especially, the “least of these, members of my family.”