First Lesson: Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24
Responsive Reading: Psalm 100
Second Lesson: Ephesians 1: 15-23
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 25: 31-46
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”-Psalm 146:3-4
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 on the outskirts of the French empire. Napoleon’s parents were well-regarded but not wealthy. France had a long-established Monarchy which would have seemed to keep people like Napoleon from seizing any real power. Napoleon graduated from a French military academy in 1785. Napoleon didn’t stand out in any real way; he was a man of no taller than 5’7. Napoleon seemed likely heading for a career as a minor officer in the French army. Napoleon did not seem destined to end up in the history books. 1789, France has a famous revolution overthrowing the monarchy. Napoleon becomes connected with the Revolution’s leaders. Napoleon began to rise within the French army gradually. Napoleon’s military genius soon becomes on display for the world to see. In 1804, Napoleon’s rise to Emperor was complete. So Napoleon decides to break the news of this big promotion to his mother.
Napoleon’s mother was not overjoyed at the news of her son becoming Emperor. She proceeded to roll her eyes merely and said: “Well, I wonder how long this will last.” The beginning of Napoleon’s reign was a high point for the nation of France. Napoleon successfully waged war against numerous European powers; the French Empire was at its heights. By the year 1812, Napoleon made a fatal error of attempting to conquer Russia. The move was the beginning of Napoleon’s downfall. By 1814, ten years after his mother’s pronouncement, Napoleon was removed from the French throne. By 1815, Napoleon had died at the age of 51. Napoleon’s story makes an important point for us. We often put our faith in the wrong places. Look at our elections, too often we look back years later saying that even if our candidate wins, we inevitability are disappointed.
Second story for this morning. Earl “Goat” Manigault was born in 1944. Manigault’s childhood revolved around Basketball. In junior high, Goat set a New York City record by scoring 57 points in one game. Once Manigault got to high school, he quickly became a star for Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City. Goat’s game was the stuff of legends. Goat’s leaping ability was such that he was able to allegedly grab quarters from the top of the backboard, nearly thirteen feet off the ground. He could dunk over taller players from the free-throw line, dunk backward. The Goat was an athletic marvel like no one had ever seen. Goat could also shoot as well as anyone else, having shot 600 shots a day for years. Goat was widely considered the greatest New York City street Basketball player of all-time. When fellow NYC Ball-player and basketball hall of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired from the Los Angeles Lakers, he was asked who the greatest player that he ever played against was he said: “Earl ‘Goat’ Manigault.” So why is the Goat not as well-known as Micheal Jordan today? Goat’s strength off the basketball court soon became overwhelmed by his weakness for drugs. Goat dropped out of college after a semester. Goat’s only shot at the pros took place when his body was already well past the point of repair. What Goat’s story reminds us of is that even the greatest triumphs of our life, don’t guarantee us anything in the end.
As we hear the stories of Napoleon Bonaparte and Earl “Goat” Manigault this morning, we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. We contrast the functioning of Christ’s kingdom versus our own. On this day, we are reminded that Jesus did not stand out in earthly ways. He was born on the outskirts of the Roman Empire in a town that people doubted anything good could ever come. He was raised in Galilee surrounded by political and religious hotheads. He lived in a nation of Judea that was centuries past its prime. He worked as a carpenter never possessing any signs of wealth. Education never had any; no proof that he could even write. Jesus throughout his life never ventured any further than 200 miles from his home. Jesus was not a popular man, arrested, deserted by his friends, and executed alongside felons at the town’s garbage dump. Jesus was so poor that someone else needed to pay for his burial. All these things are true, yet we gather here to worship him. Jesus seems to be kingly in no earthly way. In the end, his Kingdom extends far beyond even that of Napoleon Bonaparte.
What Jesus’ story reminds us of is the nature of hype. Earl “Goat” Manigault was going to be the greatest Basketball player of all-time. Every new politician makes promises of “hope” and “greatness” soon coming on the horizon. Year after year, we see promises fail to be kept before our very eyes.
Here’s the thing, the best basketball players, or the best politicians will not get to the heart of what is at our deepest needs. This is why we long for a different kind of ruler, a different kind of king. One who even though he fails to measure up in earthly ways, offers unto us the forgiveness of sins and entry into a very different kind of Kingdom.
The nature of Jesus’ kingdom is on display within Our Gospel lesson for Today from Matthew 25. It’s a very striking parable. The Son of Man is separating sheep from goats. The sheep are promised that they shall become inheritors of a great kingdom, whereas the goats are cast into the eternal fire. And whether you’re a goat or a sheep seems to depend on how successful a person you are in this world.
If you dig deeper than another meaning emerges, a Bible commentator named Greg Carey drives home the meaning of this parable when he says the main point in is God’s kingdoms will not work like the world’s kingdoms. Both sheep and goats are surprised at the eventual outcome they receive. The goats don’t know when they failed to do well, whereas the Sheep don’t understand why they are deserving. The key to understanding this story is “Goats do not see themselves as goats, but neither do sheep recognize themselves as sheep.”
The lesson has to do with those currently outside the in-crowd. It might be the “Gentiles,” “little ones” or “least of these.” What this Parable reminds us is that Jesus’ Kingdom is different because it extends to people like these.
So as we celebrate on this Christ the King Sunday, we look out on either world as we see it Today, or a world as it eventually will be.
Let me tell you one final story for this Morning; There seems to be no more dominant force in many people’s lives Today then computers. Watch how many people constantly interact with their phones to see this message.
Computers being such a vital part of people’s lives would have seemed a foolishness idea forty years ago. An early Chairman of IBM declared “a world market for only five computers.” Home computers seemed like an impractical idea, let alone smartphones.
Two gentlemen named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had a different vision though. Jobs and Wozniak’s dream was to take the previous computers which took up whole rooms into small-enough boxes that people could fit them on their desk at home. They tried selling their dream to Atari, Hewlett-Packard but got shot down by both. In a bit of desperation, they dared to start their own company that many of you have heard of called “Apple Computers.”
Eventually, Apple hit a roadblock where Jobs and Wozniak wanted greater management expertise. Steve Jobs decided he wanted to hire a gentleman named John Sculley. Sculley was the President of Pepsi Cola. Getting Sculley to accept the job seemed to be nothing but the most wishful of thinking. Sculley was at the top of the organization in one of the most well-known and financially stable companies in the world, whereas Apple Computers was merely selling hopes and dreams. Jobs approaches Sculley and hears “no.” Jobs approaches Sculley again, hears “no” again. Finally, Jobs approaches Sculley a third-time and asks him a question that would forever change John Sculley’s life; Jobs asked ‘“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
The question that Steve Jobs asked John Sculley drives home the meaning of Christ the King Sunday for Today. “Do we place our faith in the kingdoms and possessions of this world, or do we place our faith in the promise of a kingdom that goes beyond this world? Do we merely want Sugar and Water or do we want to cling to something more eternal? Do we cling to the greatest of human hopes like Napoleon Bonaparte or Earl “Goat” Manigault or is our hope on a cross found in the middle of a garbage dump? Amen
 “Napoleon Bonaparte.” History Channel. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Stier, Leon. “Christ the King.” Email Mediatations. Web. Nov.24.2014.
 Stier, Leon. “Christ the King.”
 “Earl Manigault.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 10.Nov.2017. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Earl Manigault.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
 Higgins, Chester. Jr. “A Fallen King Revisits His Realm.” New York Times. 16. June.1989. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Zingale, Tim. “King of Kings.” Sermon Central. 14. Nov.2005. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 John 1:46.
 Zingale, Tim. “King of Kings.”
 Matthew 25:31-46.
 Carey, Greg. “Commentary on Matthew 25:31-46.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. 23.Nov.2014. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Carey, Greg. “Commentary on Matthew 25:31-46.”
 Schnasa Jacobson, David. “Commentary on Matthew 25:31-46.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. 26.Nov.2017. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Higgins, Scott. “Stop Selling Sugar Water.” Stories for Preaching. Web. Nov.21.2017.
 Higgins, Scott. “Stop Selling Sugar Water
 Higgins, Scott. “Stop Selling Sugar Water.”
 Higgins, Scott. “Stop Selling Sugar Water.”