Ali Baxter is in training to become an Occasional Preacher at for the Benefice and her first Sunday of preaching was on the festival of Christ the King… here is the text of her Sermon:
God sent Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to rescue us all from our sins. What does this mean for us today?
God spoke directly to His people through the Old Testament prophets, in Jeremiah, the Lord, God of Israel refers to bad and good leaders of His people as shepherds of His flocks – language they could understand. The prophets foretold the coming of a Messiah who would rescue them.
Paul, captive in prison heard that Colossian Christians were starting to turn to other religious teachers who suggested as well as trusting Jesus they could also gain wisdom and power from their other gods. Colossi, a town in Turkey was on a trading route where many people of different religions lived. Because he couldn’t visit in person, Paul wrote them a letter which rebuked these teachers and emphasized Jesus as Lord over all things – including spiritual realms and the material world, as He created them with God, in the beginning. Paul suggested the false teachers focused on achieving fullness through other Gods, so Paul described Jesus as ‘all the fullness of God dwells in him’.
Luke tells us Jesus was mocked by the Jewish leaders and soldiers for not saving himself. The notice put up mockingly referred to Jesus as King of the Jews. He was not their Messiah or Saviour or King. Jesus quietly took this abuse as well as the suffering of dying to save everyone from their sins. All this was done for us once only for then and now.
Some churches have plain crosses in their buildings whilst others also have crosses showing the crucifixion of Christ – some of these crosses are realistic and some not, have a look around you now. What do you have in your homes? – take a look.
As I ask some questions, I will pause to allow you to reflect on them. Do take these questions away with you to ponder on during the week. I have a book and some postcards you may wish to look at after the service, I will leave them at the front.
How do you feel when you gaze upon these crosses?
Is it easier to look at a plain cross – which we identify with as having a risen Christ or the one with Jesus hanging there in agony because of our sins?
How would we have felt standing at the foot of the cross watching our beloved Jesus die a painful slow physical death?
Listen to the words of a song written by Stuart Townend:
Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.
God rescued us and reconciled all things through his Son Jesus, that is – He restored friendly relations between Himself and all His people – when Jesus died on the cross. Every time we sin, we can ask God to forgive us, knowing that He will. This is no licence to sin as we want to, we should do our best to avoid sin. We pray this at least weekly in the Lord’s Prayer – “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” – just as Jesus did on the Cross – “Father forgive them as they know not what they are doing” – even though He knew this was God’s plan. The second criminal knew that they as criminals were justly condemned to die, according to the laws of the time, but knew in his heart Jesus was innocent. He wanted to share in God’s forgiveness through Jesus and was granted this request.
God is always pleased to receive sinners who want and need forgiveness. We as Christians are qualified to share in the Kingdom of the Son. Jesus with God is more powerful than any other being, any other God or thing. Only He has the power to save us and yet amazingly lives within us through the Holy Spirit. Take some time this week to address any areas of sin in your own life. Talk to God in prayer about it. Ask his forgiveness. If you would like to talk to myself or Joanna or Graeme, you are most welcome. We would love to pray with you.
To sum up: God brought back his scattered people into one place, for whom His Shepherd, Jesus, the first born and first raised from the dead, chose not to be saved from the agony of the cross but to save us all from our sins and Jesus, in the fullness of God, now reigns supreme in Heaven with God, and on earth with us.