Jesus is King
“Jesus is King, Show Me The Evidence”
This is Christ the King Sunday, which begs the question what kind of king are we dealing with? Where is the evidence of kingship? Where is the regal palace, the state visits, the vast wealth and land that any king worth his salt would have? As C.S. Lewis puts it in his book Mere Christianity “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, king of kings, lord of lords or else he is a lunatic on par with a man who says he is a poached egg.
And yet when we look at the world it so far from anything approaching the kingdom of heaven that we are left to wonder have we all been suckered? The nation of Israel, the nation God chooses to be the hope of the world becomes the stooge of the world. The nation of priests becomes a nation of international politicians so inept at playing one major power off against another that by the time they are through, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia and Rome all will have a chance at deporting them into exile, destroying their temple and their capital city.
The laws of Moses will in time become the legalism of the Pharisees and the question, “Can mortals be righteous before God?” becomes “Is it kosher to wear my dentures on the Sabbath?” The high priests sell out to the army of occupation. The Holy City turns into Miami Beach. Even God is fed up. Nobody knows all this better than the Jews themselves. Who else has a Wailing Wall?
But the Jews went on hoping anyway, and beginning several centuries before the birth of Jesus, much of their hope took the form an implausible dream that someday God would send them somebody to make everything right. He was referred to as the Messiah, which means, “the Anointed One;’ that is, the One anointed by God, as a king at his coronation is anointed, only for a much bigger job. Lord of life.
Just how and when this Messiah, a.k.a. “The Christ”, would come was up for debate. Theories as to what he would be like multiplied and overlapped: some thought he be a great warrior king like David, others a great priest like Melchizedek, or a great prophet like Elijah. Who knew for sure?
But what and whoever he was his name would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; and of the increase of his government and of peace there would be no end (Isaiah 9: 6-7). So compelling was this vision that Handel set it to music. And on Passover eve to this day an extra cup is placed on the table for Elijah in case he stops in to say the Messiah is here at last. The door remains open.
So when Jesus of Nazareth came riding into Jerusalem on his mule, a small group, of radicals, illiterates, fishermen, and ne’er-do-wells hailed him as the Messiah, the Christ, the King. And everyone else said you should look elsewhere and advised Pilate on holding as public and unpleasant an execution as possible, so everyone would get the point.
After all we have to draw the line somewhere don’t we? He wasn’t a king, a priest, or a prophet was he? He was a nobody from nowhere. He spoke with an accent. His attitude toward the laws, that everyone else had to obey, were cavalier at best. He said, that it wasn’t what went into your mouth that mattered, but what came out of it, thus setting back the kosher industry and all the workers it employed. (Matthew 15:11) And his best friends were prostitutes and tax collectors.
On the other hand, he not only went further than Moses, but claimed his own to be the higher authority. Moses was against murder. Jesus was against vindictive anger. Moses was against adultery. Jesus was against recreational sex. Moses said love your neighbor. Jesus said, love your enemy too. Moses said be good. Jesus said be perfect. (Matthew 5: 21 -48)
So who do you think he was anyway?
Who can be perfect? Who even wants to be? He was a threat to the established church and to the establishment itself. Jewish orthodoxy and the Pax Romana were both threated by him.
His fans attributed a great many miracles to him up to and including bringing a corpse back to life, but there was one miracle he couldn’t pull off, and that was saving his own life. He died just as dead as anyone who had ever been hung on a cross. But his fans continue to ascribe a great many miracles to him, including his own resurrection, but the world is in just about as bad shape since his time as before, maybe even worse.
As far as I know, there is only one good reason for believing that he was who he said he was. One of the crooks he was hung next too put it this way: “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.” (Luke 23: 39) Save us from whatever we need most to be saved from. Save us from each other. Save us from our violence that is without end. Save us from ourselves. Save us from death both beyond the grave and before it.
If he is who he says he is he can do this. If he isn’t he can’t. Maybe the only way to find out is to give him the chance, whatever that involves. It may be just as simple and just as complicated as that. Amen