Check out this sound clip taken from a sermon by Dr. S.M. Lockridge:
“He supplies strength to the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. … He defends the feeble. He serves the unfortunate.”
“Death couldn’t handle him and grave couldn’t hold him!”
Jesus must reign in our hearts! He is our only hope against the devil! Give him complete authority over your life. Place him on the throne of your heart! Call upon him at every moment of trial, give him glory in every moment of joy, and thank him for the life he has given you. Imitate his righteousness by reaching out in love to the poor, the imprisoned, the hungry, the homeless, and the unfortunate among us. Imitate his mercy by forgiving all who have sinned against you.
See how he humbled himself by placing aside his crown of jewels for a crown of thorns. See how he stepped down from his glorious throne in Heaven to be hung on the Cross as a criminal, all so that we may enter into his Heavenly Kingdom at the time of our passing from this life to the next. Without this King, our lives are left to be empty of meaning and purpose. Without this King, we will never know true peace and joy. Without this King, we will not know what it means to truly live:
“I came that they might have life, and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10)
That’s my king!
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
There is something hidden in this passage that the modern day reader doesn’t grasp at first glance, or perhaps even at second or third glances. Of course, there is the obvious mission given from Jesus to the disciples to go out and make more disciples, but that is right there in the text. No, this hidden message requires the reader to place this passage within the entire context of the Gospel.
The passage is comprised of the final five verses of the Gospel of Matthew. After it, there is nothing more written by this Gospel author. Before it, though, is where the hidden message is revealed: Before this passage, Jesus is dead. This isn’t a figurative death, no. Before this passage, the disciples watched as their leader was arrested, scourged, mocked, forced to carry his own cross to his place of death, crucified, and lifted up for the all the world to see his final breath. Finally, his dead body was placed in a tomb and a huge stone was placed in front of the entrance so no one could get in or out.
We can try to imagine what was going through the minds and hearts of the disciples when they saw their King for the first time after his resurrection, but one thing is certain: they finally understood everything. They witnessed their King give everything for their sake, and now he was asking them to go and tell people about it. The hidden message from Jesus is this: Your King has given everything for your sake; now you must give everything for the sake of his Kingdom. This radical new way of life they were to proclaim to the nations was sure to lead to further persecution, mockery, beatings, and martyrdom. They were to imitate Jesus in giving everything they had so that more people might come to know the Good News.
The hidden message in this passage wasn’t meant only for those eleven disciples. It was meant for all disciples of Jesus Christ, even those of us who live in the world 2000 years later. We, too, are meant to give everything for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. We, too, are meant to pour ourselves out just as Jesus poured himself out on the cross. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). St. Paul was a martyr for Jesus Christ. He gave everything for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps we won’t be killed for our faith, but our lives ought to be filled with little “deaths” sprinkled throughout the day. Above all, it means keeping a mentality which seeks to give myself to others rather than to take things for myself, and to do this as a way to love as Jesus loved. Many probably know what this looks like – staying up late with the sick child, patiently working through miscommunications with the spouse, waking up earlier so everyone in the house has time to get themselves for school, work, etc., acknowledging a wrong and seeking forgiveness when pride would rather stick to stubbornness, missing the big game on TV for the sake of spending time with friends or going to Mass, the list can go on and on.
“After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.”
Giving everything is hard and tiring. It can be easy to throw in the proverbial towel and give up on the fight. After all, a person can only give so much. Well, fortunately for us, Jesus also gives us a great blueprint for sustaining a life of self-sacrifice: check out the first part of Matthew 14:23 (the quote above). Jesus knew that prayer would help sustain his life of self-sacrifice. St. Paul knew the same thing. Countless other saints – all of the saints, in fact – knew the same thing and would often spend significant amounts of time in prayer. “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” St. John Paul II had a great line:
“If the path becomes difficult at times and you are overcome by fatigue, rest in the shade of prayer.”
Make disciples. Give everything. Imitate the saints. Rest in the shade of prayer.
That same question has been posed down throughout the centuries.
Who do you say that Jesus is?
“I get my moral code from Him.” – oh, so He is a teacher.
“He told us about God.” – oh, so He is a prophet.
People of all religions can say these things about Jesus.
If someone walked up to you:
s: Who is Jesus?
me: He is a teacher of good things.
s: Who is Jesus?
me: He helps me know God.
That person is going to walk away unaffected and disinterested. There are plenty of people teaching good things and helping to know God.
What does the book of Revelation say?
Jesus Christ, to Him who is a nice teacher and helpful to know about God, to Him be nice words and pathetic statements for ever and ever.
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, making us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen (Rev 1:5-6).
Let’s try again…
s: Who is Jesus?
me: Jesus is the one who has loved me and has freed me from my sins by His blood, and put me into a kingdom where He reigns!
A movie came out about a persecution of Christians in Mexico called “For Greater Glory.”
There is this 14 year old boy who had seen a priest get shot because the priest wouldn’t stop celebrating the Holy Mass. The 14 year old boy gets arrested because he had been going around saying “Viva Cristo Rey” (Long live Christ the King). Those who arrested him were trying to get him to renounce this statement. “Just say ‘Muerte’ (death to Christ the King) and we will let you go.” They were holding guns against him and forcing him, “just say ‘muerte’ and we will let you go.” The 14 year old boy is faced with life and death for himself. After abuse, and force, he must make a decision. Those who arrested him even had his family come and they were pleading to him for his life, “just come to us. Do what you need to do and come to us.” I wonder what went through that boy’s mind. I wonder if that priest who was shot came to his mind. I wonder if a vision of Jesus enthroned in Heaven came to his mind. The 14 year old boy looked at those who would take his life, looked at his family, smiled and said to them “I love you” and then simply said “Viva Cristo Rey.” He was shot dead. 14.
VIVA CRISTO REY!
Jesus Christ is the King of the universe. He is the crucified King of the Church.
There is no benefit for you if he is the King of the universe and the King of the Church, if He is not King enthroned on your heart.
He is the King of the Heavens.
He is the King of the Earth.
He needs to be the King of your heart.
I love the scene from the Avengers, when Loki scares all the people onto a front lawn of some fancy building. Loki is this crazy warmonger with an insatiable appetite for power and glory. After scaring all these people outside, he brings them all to silence.
“KNEEL BEFORE ME!” Nobody moves; they are terrified.
“I SAID KNEEL!” And he forces them to kneel with the scepter in his hand.
He is so right, but with all the wrong intentions. God made you for Himself, that He may be your King. Not for domination; not for fear; not for slavery.
“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, making us into a kingdom.”
LOVE – MERCY – FREEDOM – KINGDOM
But Loki was right: every knee will bow, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth – whether they want to or not. All people will kneel. Some will kneel in adoration and praise. Others will kneel in pain, and in shame, and in eternal torment.
All people will kneel. Some will kneel in adoration and praise.
Others will kneel in pain, and in shame, and in eternal torment.
Is Jesus the King of your heart, individually?
I know He is the King of the Church as a whole, but what about each individual?
3 PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Test it out. What do you say when someone asks you who Jesus is to you? What do you say?
A teacher? A prophet? KING?
Test it out. Pray for 10 minutes every day. Will you? If someone told you to kneel down at you bed for 10 minutes every day and pray, would you? If someone told you to kneel down at your bed for 10 minutes every day and pray, and then they would give you 1000 dollars in 100 dollar bills each day, would you? WHO WOULDN’T?! We do it for money, but will we do it because Jesus is our King? All of the world’s answers are found in the Heart of Jesus, in prayer!
Test it out. Have you spoken against someone? Have you spoken in anger? Have your cursed? Have you lied? Have you been selfish? He is not yet King as He wants to be King. He is not yet King as He needs to be King.
Declare Him King, then depend on Him as King. Submit yourself to His rule, so He can change you, and make you into His kingdom.
To Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the Kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father, to Him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen! – Rev 1:5-6
VICTORIOUS IN HIM
You were slaves and now you are free.
You were walking in a valley of sorrow, now He has brought joy to your steps.
You were living in fear and in darkness, now you are invited to step into the light.
FOR: what happened 2000 years ago didn’t remain there. Tonight we celebrate, not what was, but what is!
If He was born in a manger 2000 years ago, He is born in your hearts tonight.
If He came, God, as man for all mankind back then, He comes for each man, woman, and child, to live, not among, but within.
The invitation is not simply to remember the long past, but for you to invite Him whom you have passed, and have longed for, to invite Him to dwell under your own roof, in the heart of your home, in the sanctuary of your temple, tonight.
There is a story of a poor little blacksmith, who used to watch all the jousting men each day. Each day he would watch, studying every detail of their style, their build, how they rode, how they held their pole, where they were protected, where they were weak. He knew everything about each of them, and would work each evening, fashioning saddles, armor, helmets, poles, custom made for each rider. But none of them knew of him.
These men were always looking for new gear, supplies to make them stronger, more agile, more protected, better than before. They would go from shop to shop and try the products, none of them made to fit, but made none-the-less for them to buy, for them to use. No one came to the shop of the poor little blacksmith, because it wasn’t much of a shop. He wasn’t much of a business. In fact, his things were not for sale.
One day, a young knight ended up near his shop, not knowing he was near, and he saw a simple little sign above a simple little door: “MADE FOR YOU”.
He was going to pass by but decided to drop in. The young man greeted the poor little blacksmith, the man who had been watching his every joust without his knowing. The young knight introduced himself and asked what sort of shop this was.
“I make jousting gear, custom designed for each man, for each knight, to fit like a glove, to protect better than any steel, to strengthen him and give him every advantage in the battle.”
The young man saw the simplicity of the shop, the plainness of the older man, and was about to dismiss the idea completely, when the older man added, “and I don’t charge a penny.”
The young man was finished with the fool. He laughed at the poor little man and politely excused himself from the shop. The older man called to him as he left: “would you not at least like to try yours on?”
“What do you mean?”
“I have yours here, ready to go.”
“How do you…”
“I have been watching you in each battle. I know everything about you: your style, your strength, your weakness.” And he held up a piece of body armor.
The young man tried it all on, each piece fit more perfectly than he could have imagined, lighter, stronger, better. He turned to the man and asked slowly:
“What is the catch, sir? It is free, it all but guarantees me victory, it is made to fit, just for me, and you ask for nothing? How am I the first to know about you?”
“Oh, you are not the first to know about me,” replied the poor little man. “Many knights have come before you. They have found the same armor like yours, amazed at their fortune, and I have seen their starry eyes, thinking of their victories.
“But just as many as have come in have left all the same, leaving their armor with me, or if they take it, they bring it back after a few battles.”
“Because there is a catch, and it is this: they don’t get to take the credit any more for their victories. Their trophies, their prizes, their honors, all have to be given to me. I do not keep any of it; I give it to the needy. But these men cannot stomach it.
“Even though they are better with me, even though they are victorious with me, even though I know everything about their ways and have made each suit to fit them, they go another way, to joust for their own glory, even if it means their defeat.”
Brothers and sisters, there is Someone out there who knows everything about you. He knows your strengths; He knows your weaknesses. He knows everything about you. And He has made a way for you to come to victory. His name is Emmanuel. His name is Jesus. He is the desire of every human heart. No matter what shape the heart is, no matter how big or small, strong or weak, cold or warm, praying or not, loving or not. The fact is that He knows how to fulfill us, and He alone.
We have been searching, running, hoping. We can stop searching. We can stop running. He has come to us, and He says:
I am with you now
Not was; not will be – NOW
I made Myself Who am God to be a baby, small.
Do you not think I can make Myself small enough to fit inside you, to make My home inside your heart?
As easy, and as sure, as breathing in air, so can you bring Me into yourself.
As you open your mouth for air, open your heart for Me, and invite Me!
I desire to be in you. I have already taken you into Me. When I took on flesh, I took all of humanity into Myself. I wasn’t human, but I took on humanity to save you; I took you into Myself – now, take Me to yourself
Tonight is Christmas, and Jesus has come to us. In a manger on that silent night, His desire is to come to your hearts this night. And when we welcome Him we will be victorious. And when we acknowledge Him, we will be victorious. And when we bow to Him, we will be victorious. And when we lay everything down at the feet of Him who loved us to the end, we will be victorious.
This night is Christmas, and the Victor has come to bring us victory. Come, Lord Jesus.