Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sermon: Wednesday of Judica (Mid-week)

22 March 2006 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: 1 Kings 1:32-40

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

King Solomon.

Just the mention of his name 3000 years after his life and death calls to mind power, wisdom, riches, and strength. Solomon was king of Israel at its mightiest. This son of David was known throughout the world for his great mind and glorious wealth. He is also the builder of the Temple, and the last King over all twelve tribes.

As is the case with all of David’s sons, Solomon gives us a glimpse of the future Messiah, the final and eternal King of Israel.

In our text, Solomon is being crowned at the behest of his own father, King David. He rides on the royal mule of David to a place called Gihon – which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem. There, a representative priest and prophet anoint Solomon with oil. A horn is blown, and the crowds cheer: “Long Live the King!” The prayer goes up that Solomon’s throne be even greater than David’s. The people rejoice so loudly that it seems the earth is about to split open.

But in spite of King Solomon’s grandeur, his wisdom, his glorious rule, his mighty Temple, and his status as David’s royal son, Solomon is not the promised Seed, destined to crush the serpent’s head. Solomon will not rule Israel forever, but only for 40 years, after which, he died. Solomon was not to faithfully guard the deposit of faith given him, as his numerous wives and their worship of false gods draw Solomon away from the exclusive worship of the God of the prophets and priests, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God whose name is I AM. As great as Solomon was, we speak of him in the past tense. His kingdom today is only a memory, and his Temple but a heap of ruins.

But Solomon’s greatest contribution to mankind and to the Church is not his greatness as a judge or glory as a general. His greatness is in his reflection of Christ. Solomon is yet another son of David who is a type, a pattern, a preview of the New and Greater Son of David to come.

For Jesus is too a Son of David, and yet he is the Son of David. He too is anointed, for the word “Christ” itself is Greek for “the anointed one.” Jesus is declared to be King by His Father – One greater than David, and that is God himself. And Jesus is indeed anointed by the priests and prophets, that is to say, by the prophetic Word of God and by all of the sacrifices and shed blood that pointed forward to the covenant of Christ’s blood shed on the cross and given to us to drink – “for the remission of sins.”

And mirroring Solomon’s entrance into the Jerusalem, David’s Royal City, Jesus rides on a lowly donkey. He is hailed by the people, whose shouts disturb the peace of the scribes (whose job it was to preserve God’s word of the priests and prophets). Jesus tells them that if the people were to be hushed, the earth itself would break open in song.

And just as Solomon’s Temple was destroyed (just as Jesus said it would), so too would the Temple of the body of Jesus fall – and yet, unlike Solomon’s seemingly indestructible Temple, the New and Greater Temple of our Lord’s body was to be divinely rebuilt in three days: as Jesus rises again in glory. And when Jesus rises, the ground does split open, as tombs burst, and once-dead saints rise and walk around.

Unlike Solomon’s Temple, the Temple of the body of Jesus lives, literally and physically, right here, in this holy place, upon that altar, the holy of holies, where the Temple of his body is given to you, and for you - making your body a holy temple as well.

For as Solomon was a man of power, riches, wisdom, and strength, the Church prays to Jesus, in the words of the Book of Revelation and of our liturgy, praising him for his power, riches, wisdom, and strength, “and honor, and glory, and blessing are his.” In the case of Solomon, his wealth was fleeting. It contributed to his downfall. But to our Lord, his wealth, his ownership of all things, only proclaims his divinity. And he doesn’t cling to his wealth, but rather empties himself, taking the form of a servant, and giving us everything that belongs to him – including his very life.

For even wise Solomon had his follies. But St. Paul tells us the “foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” and that the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

So what appears to be foolishness – Jesus riding a donkey to his certain execution, Jesus refusing to defend himself at his trial, Jesus submitting to death on the cross – is even greater than all of the wisdom of Solomon put together. For this apparent foolishness is the ultimate wisdom, it is God’s plan to conquer sin, death, and the devil, and to restore paradise.

Solomon was made a king at the edge of Jerusalem in a place called Gihon. Gihon was also the name of one of the four rivers that ran through the Garden of Eden. The New and Greater Solomon, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, the anointed eternal King of Israel, Wisdom incarnate, will restore that paradise, even as He creates springs of living water to baptize us and to sustain us unto eternity.

The New and Greater Solomon is not bedecked in royal jewels, except for the ruby red scars on his hands and feet. Our New and Greater Solomon doesn’t wear a golden diadem, but rather a thorny crown. Jesus doesn’t merely rule a Jewish empire in Palestine, but rather he owns the universe and all in it, commanding a kingdom that is “not of this world.”

And while Solomon adulterated the faith through his many wives, Jesus has but one bride: the Church. And he is no adulterer. He keeps his vow of faithfulness to his bride, and never falls short of true worship of his Father and the carrying out of his Father’s will. He is the only begotten Son of the Father, the only faithful Son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the very Son of God, the I AM in the flesh.

And the will of His Father is that He take up His eternal throne in Zion and rule the universe forever. And ruling with Him are the twelve tribes of the New and Greater Israel, built upon the twelve apostles, and those who stand in their train. “Heaven is [His] throne, and earth is [His] footstool.”

And all of us who have been forgiven of our sins, washed in the waters of paradise, made temples of the Holy Spirit through the body and blood of Jesus, we who praise our King with shouts of “Love Live the King!” will be there for eternity.

The Seed of the woman has indeed crushed the serpent’s head. And to the One whose throne is greater than David’s, the One greater than Solomon, the “One greater than the Temple”, and the King whose Kingdom will have no end, to Him be:

“Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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