Worship Helps for Christ the King

Title: Resurrection of the Flesh
Artist: Luca Signorelli

This is a very interesting painting. It is based on St. Paul’s great resurrection chapter in 1 Corinthians 15. The painting is especially founded upon this particular Bible verse: “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). 

In the painting, two angels are blasting their long trumpets from the sky. There is action upon the earth. Skeletons are rising from the ground. Flesh and muscle and sinew are returning to their bodies. There is laughter and joy at the great reunion of flesh and bones; the great reunion of body and soul; and the great reunion of God’s saints embracing one another.

Worship Theme: Lord, keep us joyful in Christ our King! On this last Sunday of the Church Year, we rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation through Christ our King. And we rejoice because our Christ our King reigns—the king who once came as a sacrifice; the king who still shepherds us day by day; the king who one day will conquer all our enemies. Rejoice in his reign and look forward to the day when every knee will bow with us before the king of kings and lord of Lords!

Old Testament: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24
"'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. … 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

1. In the verses that directly precede this lesson, God rebukes the shepherds, i.e., the kings, leaders and priests of Israel for not being taking care of his sheep. According to God, our Shepherd-King, how will he deal with his sheep?

2. These verses were written hundreds of years after the reign of King David. So, who is this “servant David” that God would raise up to rule over his people?

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

3. Explain the comparison between Adam and Christ in these verses.

4. What does it mean that Christ is the “firstfruits” of those who have been raised?

5. Evaluate. Verse 28 is telling us that Jesus is somehow inferior to God the Father.

Gospel: Matthew 27:27-31
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

6. How did the King of kings show his love for us his subjects?

7. As we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, how can we be joyful as we see Jesus dying on a cross as a criminal?

1. He promises to seek out and rescue the lost, to gather his sheep from every nation, to provide for all their needs and to strengthen them when they are weak.

2. This is a prophecy about the coming Messiah. God had promised that a descendant of David would rise up to sit on his throne. The Messiah would be the greatest king in the history of Israel. Jesus, a blood descendant of King David, is that king. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Since the time of David, Israel had called her kings “shepherds.” The men who followed in David’s line, however, did not shepherd Israel in the paths of God. So God made a promise: the Sovereign LORD would shepherd his people. Notice the first person pronouns in this lesson—we rejoice because we have a King who acts on behalf of his people, like a shepherd for sheep. God says, “I will guide them; I will guard them; I will seek them; I will find them.” Most importantly, God promised to raise up King David’s greater Son to be the prince of his people and their Good Shepherd. Rejoice in the Christ the King who shepherds his flock day by day!

3. Through Adam and Eve’s sin, all mankind fell and became subject to death. We are born dead spiritually. We will all face physical death someday. Because of our sins we all deserve eternal death in hell. But in Jesus we have been made alive. With his suffering and death, the payment of sin was made. His resurrection is proof that we too will be raised and will live forever with him in heaven.

4. Christ has indeed been raised, and that means he is the firstfruits of the dead. When the Israelites brought the firstfruit offering to the Lord, they confessed that the whole harvest belonged to God, and they rejoiced at the greater harvest that was coming. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God promised that a field full of souls will follow the firstfruits from death to life. Until then, Christ will reign as king until the Great Day comes when he reverses everything Adam ruined and destroys every enemy that stands against the Church. Then our joy will be complete, and God will be all in all. Rejoice in Christ the King who will conquer all our enemies!

5. Verse 28 is a difficult verse. The Bible states clearly in many places that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in power, glory and authority (John 10:30). No one is superior to the other. Jesus however humbled himself to come to earth and obey the will of his Father (John 14:28). How can this be? As Professor Carleton Toppe once wrote: “Such is the mystery and wonder of the Trinity and of the God-man Jesus Christ” (The People’s Bible: 1 Corinthians, p.148).

6. Our King did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus showed his love for us in this: that as King of the universe he allowed himself to be mocked and tortured by a handful of ignorant unbelieving soldiers. In love, he allowed himself to suffer the physical agony of the cross. In love, he willing suffered the punishment of sin in our place. Our King truly deserves our honor, service and praise!

7. This scene is joyful because we know how it ends. The picture of our King wearing a crown of thorns is not tragic, but rather it is full of grace. We have a King in Christ who left his heavenly throne and regnavit a ligno crucis (“reigned from the wood of the cross”, Justin Martyr; Augustine). Rejoice in Christ the King who came as our sacrifice!

Putting your faith into action

A reading from the Book of Concord for Christ the King
Baptism promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts.  In short, Baptism is so far beyond us that if timid nature could realize this, it might well doubt whether it could be true.  Think about it.  Imagine there was a doctor somewhere who understood the art of saving people from death or, even though they died, could restore them quickly to life so that they would afterward live forever.  The world would pour in money like snow and rain.  No one could find access to him because of the throng of the rich!  But here in Baptism there is freely brought to everyone’s door such a treasure and medicine that it utterly destroys death and preserves all people alive.

We must think this way about Baptism and make it profitable for ourselves.  So when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say, “Nevertheless, I am baptized.  And if I am baptized, it is promised to me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”  For that is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism: the body is sprinkled and the Word is spoken for the soul to grasp.  The soul lives through the Word, which it believes, but the body lives because it is united with the soul.  By Baptism we are made holy and are saved.  No other kind of life, no work on earth, can do this. – Large Catechism, Part IV, Baptism (paragraphs 41-46)

Text of Hymn of the Day: 731  The King Will Come at Age’s End
1  The King will come at age’s end,
The trumpets trill, the heavens rend,
Unveiling new Jerusalem. Alleluia!

2  The book of life will name its names,
Each bought by cross’s bitter pain,          
Each inked in blood and sealed in flame. Alleluia!

3  All-glorious on his gleaming throne,
The King will claim his saints, his own,
And with them dwell and make a home. Alleluia!

4  And nights of tears, though late and long,
Will disappear in splendid dawn,
And deeps of death will all be gone. Alleluia!

5  Amen, amen! Lord Jesus, come!
My Savior fair, come bear me home.
For you are King of kings alone! Alleluia!

Text: Laurie F. Gauger, b. 1965 © 2004 Laurie F. Gauger. 


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