Who Needs A King?

Our problem with Christ the King Sunday is manifold. Americans just don’t like the idea of monarchs. The vaunted myth of American individualism rebels against it. Maybe that’s why we birthed so many denominations over the years. Every little group wanted its own democratically elected God or Jesus enfolded in its own democratically elected way of worship. Maybe that’s why we tend to put so much emphasis on having a personal savior. We are quick to claim that we have given our lives to Christ, but often as not that would be hard to prove by our words and deeds. It may be “good to be king” but if a king has any power at all, his subjects are likely to suffer. Yep, no kings for us.

From another perspective, no matter how often or in what way Jesus tried to explain the presence of the kingdom of God that was at hand, it never really got through. Still doesn’t. The fact that God’s kingdom can infect this world only through the lives of faithful men and women bringing the light of Christ into it seems to have eluded most of us, most of the time. The Jews of Jesus’ day wanted a Messiah who would ride at the head of an army to reestablish the Davidic kingdom. A good many Christians want the same thing through a theology that sees the cross, grave and resurrection as an incomplete start to what will be finished when Jesus returns, this time getting it right, at the head of his angelic army. Isn’t that what it promises in the Revelation to John?

Speaking for myself, I don’t know what to make of the word king, although I’m helped at least a little by Deirdre Good’s book “Jesus the Meek King” in which her emphasis is on the word meek. What I am persuaded by is this passage from Isaiah:

Is. 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

I don’t have to understand king any more than Pilate did. I only have to trust that God is God, and that in following Jesus I am following where God leads. My confession is that I follow him like a little boy. I try never to completely lose sight of him, and intend to be diligent in following, but I get easily distracted along the way and am prone to wander off down side roads now and then. I never count myself among the lost, just, on occasion, a wee bit disoriented. I always find him again because he always seems to know where I am even if I’m not sure where he is.

5 thoughts on “Who Needs A King?”

  1. Steve,perhaps the problem is that we forget where the inscription marking Jesus as King went – on the cross. Any image of King which cannot handle that reality is a false image, which throws out all the images that this world presents to us!

  2. A very useful essay for this Advent season. Maybe many who listen to the scripture readings at the Lessons and Carols service will wonder, if they pay close attention, why the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, such as from Isaiah and Micah, seem to speak of an earthly King, a military leader, like David, who will deliver Israel by force of arms, so unlike what we know of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Dr B

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