What Kind of King Are You Anyway?

Reflection for Christ the King Sunday:

I don’t know why I opened the email.

It was from my friend, Keith and I hadn’t heard from him in years.

When I opened it. I read possibly the most evil thing I have ever heard.

Keith’s brother was going through a divorce and his soon to be ex-wife, distraught over the breakup, went and killed their two children, ages 7 and 8.

How would any of you react to such horrifying news?

I sat down and cried for two children I have never met. And then I got angry.

“What kind of King are you anyway? Aren’t you God? Couldn’t you have saved them?”

The bad thief in our gospel today has nearly the same reaction that I did. What kind of king are you? If you’re a king, save yourself and us.

I’m just like that bad thief. I went looking for a savior and when I found him I was disappointed because I found that he was hanging from a cross.

It’s tough to look at the cross. But we have a cross in every church. We wear them around our necks. We obviously don’t merely see the brutality of capital punishment here and senseless death. And it’s the good thief who reminds us that we need to look beyond the cross, to look beyond death and pain and destruction.

Because it’s there that we find a King. A king who redeems our pain and suffering with everlasting life. A king who enters into our suffering and understands our pain and a brutal horrible death.

The good thief only asks one thing of Jesus. He asks to be remembered. How many times do I want to say “Jesus, please DON’T remember me.” Because I’m a sinner and I’m no good and I’ve done stupid and hurtful things to others.

And Jesus’ response is the same to us that he offers to the good thief: “I assure you today you will be with me in paradise.”

Facing the cross and all the different ways people continue to be crucified today is indeed a difficult task. But to not look at the cross and see more puts limits on what we believe God can do.

Doesn’t evil want us to believe that God can’t redeem the evil murder of those two kids? Isn’t it all too easy to be the bad thief and only see pain and death and not believe that God can defeat death and bring us all to everlasting life?

Or can we be the good thief and have the faith that Jesus remembers us–even when it seems hopeless?

For when all seems hopeless, we look to the cross and we find the broken body of Christ. And we know that we have a God who not only suffers with us, but who also redeems all the suffering that we could ever face.

And who remembers us all forever.

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