Christ the King
Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. As we come to the end of the church year, we celebrate the fact that at the end of time, Jesus will reign as King!
Generally speaking, kings do not fare well in the Bible. When the people of Israel went to the prophet Samuel demanding a king, “like the other nations,” Samuel gave them dire warnings about all the things a king would do: take their sons for his armies, take their daughters for his servants, take their horses for his chariots, etc. Almost all the kings of Israel end up with very poor scores for faithfulness to God. Too much power, or perhaps the lust for power of this world, seems to work counter to faithfulness.
In today’s world, kings have a negative connotation as well, so much so that some want to avoid referring to Christ as a ‘King”, excise reference to the “Kingdom of God” and even change the name of this feast day to “Reign of Christ Sunday.” Yes, there is still the “King of England,” but that is nothing like what it meant to be King in the days of David or Edward or Henry VIII. Today, it is just a cultural and symbolic role.
There is a funny sequence in Mel Brooks’ movie, “The History of the World, Part 1” where, following various lecherous acts as the King of France, Louis XVI (played by Brooks) turns to the camera and says, “It’s good ta be da king.” Beyond the chuckle, we all get the message that this sort of behavior is why we don’t have kings anymore!
Given all this, isn’t it a bit odd that we celebrate Jesus as a King?
The obvious response is that Jesus is a different kind of king, the good kind of king. The problem with kings isn’t that the idea of a monarchical ruler is inherently evil, but that no human can be trusted with the kind of unchecked power associated with kingship. The noble king who defends the weak and lowly, and stands up for the right, might make for good movie and book endings, but rarely matches the reality.
Jesus is the king who lays down His life for His people — the only King who is truly in it for His people, not for himself. When asked if he was, indeed, a king, Jesus’ response was “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37, click here for the full passage) Jesus, at last, will be a king not with armies and laws and taxes, but with truth. And that’s a King to be thankful for!
This column appeared in the November 25, 2018 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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