Joshua 24:15
“If it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua, Yeshua, Jesus… All three are the same name. The best definition seem to be that it means “God delivers” or “God saves”.
Why do I bring this up? Because the only one who can really save us is the King. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. And our King has saved us.
This requires of us a response. And it must be a response in proportion to what has been offered in our salvation. Joshua, from the Old Testament, was the man who succeeded Moses. He is the one who brought the Israelites into the Promised Land. He is the one who led the fight, but it wasn’t much of a fight, against Jericho.
It was seeing the handiwork of God in all of these things that led him to stand before the entire nation of Israel and make the declaration that I just quoted.
In our world today, there are far too many people who seem to be displeased at the idea of serving the Lord. Joshua challenges us today as he challenged the people in his day: “who will you serve… As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Is Jesus worthy of such service and devotion? Is he worthy of being given the title King? Is he worthy of being called our Lord? For 2000 years Christians have made this claim. In the world around us today, it seems far too few people are willing to stand on that simple claim. The story of Blessed Miguel Pro is well known. His final words before the firing squad shot him need to echo in the hearts of all who claim to follow Christ. What were those words?
Long live Christ the King! (Pause) As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
These declarations are no mere slogans. If they do not reach into the depths of your heart, and urge you on to a more powerful devotion to Jesus, then, honestly, I have some concerns for your soul. God knows it doesn’t mean such a devotion will be perfect and never waiver.
It is no small thing to declare that Jesus Christ is King. It is no small thing to name him Lord of your life. It is no small thing to say that you will serve him. No, it is a very great thing. It is the greatest thing in the greatest service that any of us can do.
We have here around this chair (that we have made into a throne) the candles that represent those who have died in this last year that previously were around the altar. Our prayer is that all of them have drawn near to the throne of mercy, the throne of grace. That they have finished their path and are with the glory of God who is Jesus our Risen King.
And we pray that they will pray for us as we seek to serve the Lord with all our hearts; to make him live as Christ the King in the core of our hearts.
As I said, there are too many people today who treat this as a casual thing. Next week we begin the great season of Advent. My prayer is that you will make this Advent (a time that means “coming”, and makes us think of “preparation”) that you would invite the King to the home of your heart. Let him come.
Let the conquering King who has overcome sin and death, the only one deserving of our service draw us deeper into a relationship where we can know also the pleasure of serving our Lord and Savior, Christ the King.
Jesus, Savior, Invincible King, we come to you today knowing our own weakness in being able to commit our hearts fully to you. As Joshua warned the Israelites, today too there are many gods who would distract us from good and proper service to you.
Help each of us as we recite the creed of the church to banish from our minds and hearts all the falsehoods of this world that we may freely give to you the honor and glory that is your due as the only rightful King of our hearts, of our church, of our nation, of our world.
Help each of us to stand before the world with the conviction of the martyrs. Help us to be like Joshua who said “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Help us to be like St. Lawrence who was burned alive for the treasure of the church, which was the poor. Help us to be like St. Polycarp who was burned alive but smelled like baking bread. Help us to be like Blessed Miguel Pro who had the courage to simply declare “Long live Christ the King.” Amen.