The Messiah did indeed come, fulfilling God’s promises; but he proved to be different from what people had expected. As in the time of Samuel, they think that having a king made to their liking will solve all problems, but God intends to send a king who will transcend all expectations. This king will do something greater than overthrowing the Romans; he would deal fully and finally with more ancient enemies, the ones that have lurked and prowled and devoured since the garden of Eden—the enemies of sin and death.
To accomplish this, God’s appointed king will submit himself to humanity’s sinfulness; he will let them do their worst to him, and then, rather than taking revenge for their cruelty, he will forgive them. He will offer himself up to the punishment they deserve and open a way of freedom from sin and death.
In Luke 23, we see Jesus living out this call to be the suffering king as he hangs upon the cross. Bystanders mock him with ironic taunts: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” They cannot comprehend that precisely because Jesus is the Messiah, he refrains from using his power in such a limited and self-serving way. Most who witness his crucifixion consider it the definitive sign that he isn’t their king; but it is there upon the cross that Jesus delivers his people and restores the rightful rule of God.
When we are tempted to think that a king made to our liking will solve our problems, may we embrace our suffering king—God’s perfect plan of salvation for us.

Lord, forgive me for trying to remake you in my image; help me to see you in your true glory—as the king who gave his life for me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 23:33-43

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Lectionary Week
November 14–20, 2016
Scripture Overview

Each of the passages for this week addresses the ends served by divine power. Jeremiah characterizes king- ship by wisdom, justice, and safety. The exercise of kingly power is on behalf of God’s people rather than against them. The read- ing from Colossians praises the cosmic dimensions of Christ whose exaltation is not an end in itself, for the task of Christ is one of reconciliation. The goal of Christ’s kingship moves to center stage in the passage from Luke. The bystanders and one of the criminals executed with Jesus know what it means to be a king, so they taunt Jesus with the demand that he use his power to save himself. For Jesus, however, a king is not one who saves himself but one who saves others.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. What experiences do you recall of leaders in various arenas not being wise shepherds of the people and the people’s resources?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. The song of Zechariah is this-worldly and political. In what ways does the song encourage you to view the baby in the manger in a different light?
• Read Colossians 1:11-20. How has Jesus revealed himself as your king this past year?
• Read Luke 23:33-43. Jesus came as a different king, a dif- ferent kind of messiah than people expected. Recall a time when God’s response in a situation differed

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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

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