We have to use language to talk about God, but no language is adequate. Today, following the lectionary, we emphasize Jesus as king. However, there are many ways in which Jesus is unlike a king. If you think of a king as being surrounded with pomp and ceremony, forget it. If kingship means tyrant, then it most assuredly will not do. If a king rules a nation with armed forces at his disposal, if the image of a king involves wealth and economic power, then the image of Jesus as king is clearly contrary to what he actually was. The early Church called Jesus Lord and Saviour, but they did this in blatant contrast with the way that Caesar, the Roman emperor, was called lord and saviour. As we read in John’s account of Jesus’ interrogation by Caesar’s representative, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not from this world.” His right to rule did not come from royal descent, military coup, the popular vote or any other way that governments come into power. His kingdom is from God, the ultimate Truth or fundamental Reality. When Pilate questioned him about whether he was a king, Jesus pointed out that the word king was not his word, but Pilate’s. He knew that the term was quite inadequate, yet its background was to be found in the Jewish expectation of a Messiah raised up by God to deliver his people from all that had gone wrong, a king who was to usher in a new era where God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. To speak of Jesus as king is to acknowledge the authority, the authenticity that he had from God the Creator – the right to be listened to and obeyed. The power in this realm is not political but distinctively that of holy love.
- Explain the difference between a constitutional monarchy as we currently have it and an absolute monarchy?
- If there are ways in which Jesus was not like a king, in what ways was he like a king?
- If Jesus is a king, where is his realm?
- Give examples of ways in which Christ the king challenges governments and rulers?