A couple months back, I was eating lunch at Cava when I caught eyes with a guy walking by who was wearing this cool-looking t-shirt that had just two simple words on the front, all in caps:
We got to talking, and had a great conversation. Turns out he was one of the leaders at a local protestant church, and he was out on the streets that Sunday afternoon just… evangelizing…. Talking to anyone and everyone about the Lord.
Talking about King Jesus.
But it was more than just empty talk. I mean, this guy was obviously all about extending God’s Kingdom and making King Jesus tangibly present wherever he happened to be. It was more than just a t-shirt he wore. The Kingship of Jesus was the defining reality of his life. It was his identity.
There’s no other way to put it other than you could just tell that this normal, funny, friendly guy carried with him the authority of King Jesus. When he spoke to me and my friends about what God was doing in our lives, he spoke with authority, and it was clear that the Holy Spirit was leading his words. When he prayed over us, it was a prayer from authority.
When he left, it felt like we just had a visit from King Jesus Himself.
I believe that’s the way all Christians are called to impact this world. Each in our own way, we are called to embody King Jesus — to carry within us His own authority and extend His Kingdom here and now.
And it all starts in our baptism.
Just before Jesus ascended to His Father, he spoke to his apostles saying:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
We are baptized into the authority of Jesus! We believe that we are baptized priest, prophet and KING…
We heard about David being anointed as an earthly king in our first reading today — as we rose form the waters of baptism, we were anointed with sacred oils into the life of the Heavenly King!
This is what St Paul is getting at in that beautiful second reading from his letter to the Colossians:
“Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Through the Blood of Jesus, God has delivered us — rescued us! — from the power and dominion of darkness, and has transferred us — lifted us up and installed us, anointed us through our baptism — into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
Basically what Paul is saying is this: Jesus doesn’t hog all of his authority to himself. No — He shares his Kingship with us freely!
That was always the plan, too… from the very beginning of Creation.
Remember: The Lord created man and woman in His own image, placed them in the Garden, and gave them dominion over the earth and all that was in it. From this we learn that we were always meant to be royalty!
But then, Adam and Eve listened to the father of lies instead of God, their loving Father. They took the fruit…and they forfeited that original, untarnished authority. Their God-given crowns were smashed, and now they wore new crowns of their own making: Crowns of pride, of distrust, of envy, of lust, of bitterness, and of shame…
But here’s the good news: Jesus came to restore those Original Crowns. He came to bring back that holy dominion, and entrust to us, once again, a share in His own Divine authority!
Now I know — we hear that word “authority,” and we might feel kind of uncomfortable. Maybe we start thinking about all the ways authority has been abused — The way some people in authority have bossed others around, taken advantage of them, or forced them to do stuff.
But the authority of King Jesus is altogether different.
His kingly authority restores peace, order, justice, and wholeness. His authority is gorgeous, gentle, and all-powerful.
Perhaps this definition of authority will help us get more to the heart of what I’m trying to say:
Authority is the right to act on behalf of somebody else.
This is the kind of authority Jesus has given us. “As the Father sent me, so I send you,” he says. Out of love, He has given His disciples the right and the responsibility to act on His behalf in this world. We’ve been baptized into the identity of Jesus the King!
It’s true, the different members of the Church share in that authority to greater and lesser degrees. The Bishops, in union with the Pope, for instance, carry a more expansive share in Christ’s authority so they might serve the Church, interpret Scripture properly, and preserve sound doctrine.
But ALL Christians share in the authority of King Jesus in their own way! We are all called to act on behalf of Jesus! We are God’s children, and we can lean into our royal identity, releasing His power, not our own, into our daily lives so that His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The problem is… we sometimes forget that we have this authority.
One of the biggest ways this manifests itself is when we forget the authority Jesus has given us over the sin in our lives.
It just breaks my heart when people come into the confessional week after week, broken down and defeated — as if they were still doomed to live under the power of darkness and sin for the rest of their lives…
If you feel that way — if you’re wrestling with a habitual sin and feel totally defeated and powerless — I want to speak this into your heart right now:
Don’t you know that you have the authority of the King?
By His grace, you have authority over that sin that hounds you!
Claim it in His Name! Claim your inheritance that Christ won for you! You have been given a scepter to smash all the evil that still clings to you and claim goodness and virtue for yourself and your family!
I preach this to myself as well, because I forget it too.
One time, I asked someone if they ever tried praying with this sort of authority — the authority of a king — renouncing sin and claiming the beauty and goodness and virtue God has won for us in the Name of Jesus — and the person replied quite timidly:
“Never! …I mean… Am I even allowed to pray like that?”
I practically leapt out of my chair saying: “Of course you can! That’s what baptism is all about! Jesus rejoices when you pray like that!”
In just a few short moments, we’re gonna pray like that together.
We will stand, and on behalf of these beautiful children who have been brought here for baptism, we will have the chance to renew our own baptismal promises.
We will stand on the authority of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe and we will declare that,
YES, I do renounce Satan.
I do renounce all his works and all his empty show.
I do believe in God the Father Almighty.
I do believe in Jesus Christ.
I do believe in the Holy Spirit.
Like a husband and wife authoritatively declaring those words to one another on their wedding day, so we will speak them: “I do.”
These words carry SO MUCH holy authority. They change reality itself. They make present the Kingdom!
Jesus spoke with authority over the wind and waves, and they stood still. Jesus spoke with authority over evil spirits, and they came out screaming. Jesus spoke with authority over sickness, and people were healed.
Jesus spoke with authority to the good thief, dying next to him on a cross: “Today, you WILL be with me in Paradise” …and the man’s soul was saved.
Jesus didn’t lay down his life on the Cross and rise victoriously from the grave for us to be wishywashy Christians unsure of our own inheritance, entrapped by sin, sadness, and despair. No, we’ve been baptized into his death. We have been raised with Him — and now, the Trinitarian Life is coursing through OUR veins.
We’re dead to all the darkness and the lies!
King Jesus and His Truth is ALIVE in us!