This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. All of the readings for this Sunday focus on kingship—David’s, God’s, Jesus’. Jesus’ views on kingship are revealed in his famous discussion with Pilate. Jesus makes it clear that his kingship is directed at testifying to the truth.
Jesus is a king with a specific mission: he has come into the world to testify to the truth.
It is the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the church’s liturgical year. All of today’s passages reflect on kingships—those of David, God and Jesus. Although Christians in America are far removed from any direct experience of a king, these passages can teach us about our own political life.
This Sunday’s texts from Daniel and Mark (and, perhaps, Hebrews) are quite apocalyptic in their outlook. This may lead most preachers to focus their attentions elsewhere—though post-election, many U.S. partisans may be feeling fairly apocalyptic themselves.
Do you know what the antidote for fear is?” the minister asked. The answer jumped into my head immediately. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17, NASB). But since it’s generally frowned upon for a member of the choir in an Episcopal cathedral to shout out answers to rhetorical questions from the pulpit, I kept quiet.
What is the point of pursuing wisdom? Well, to become wise. That is, wisdom is its own end, or its own reward. This sort of answer may suffice for philosophers (those who are “lovers of wisdom”), but James has other ideas. There are at least two respects in which James and other Christians might think differently about wisdom.
If you are reading this column hoping to get some insight into Mark 9:49-50, you can stop now. These verses are intensely obscure; the commentaries offer little help; neither I nor anyone I know has received a special revelation explaining the text. Let us simply agree to move on to other matters. By this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has started to speak openly about his impending death.
The juxtaposition of this text from James with Mark’s story of the healing of the Syro-Phoenician woman reveals a wicked sense of humor on someone’s part. The passage in James begins with an assertion of the fundamental incompatibility of faith in Christ, the Lord of Glory, with partiality in human relations. It then goes on to list a variety of ways in which believers might typically display such favoritism.
My wife and I have two sons, 12 and 14, and a standard-size refrigerator. Hence, we spend a lot of time at the grocery store. As I wait to pay for one day’s installment of food, I am invited to learn the full story about the semiprivate lives of numerous celebrities. If the number of these publications is anything to go by, our desire for insider knowledge is insatiable. We want to know all of the details and we want to know them now.
Over the past several years Stephen Webb, professor of religion and philosophy at Indiana’s Wabash College, has directed his highly tuned theological senses to a variety of subjects outside the typical confines of academic theology.