Jesus is king above and beyond our imaginationsPublished 8:32am Friday, November 23, 2012
Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk, by the Rev. Cherie Daniel of Freeborn Congregational United Church of Christ in Freeborn, Alden United Methodist Church and Grace United Methodist Church in Kiester
If you are tuned in to the rhythms of the church year, then you know that this Sunday is the last one after Pentecost. It is the end of Year B in the revised common lectionary cycle. This week many churches will observe “Christ the King” Sunday. Dec. 2 will usher in the season of Advent — when we start over! We move from celebrating Christ as the ruler to anticipating the much-prophesied king yet to be born.
It got me thinking. What do I know about kings, anyway? What does it mean that Jesus is called the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2, Matthew 27:11) or King of Israel (John 1:49, Matthew 27:42, Mark 15:32) or King Eternal (1 Timothy 1:17) or, even, King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 19:16)? We who live in the western hemisphere have very little experience with kings. So, what do we know?
Here are some kings I’ve learned about: Good King Wenceslas braved harsh winter weather conditions to take food and fuel to a poor peasant, which was good, but he served only that one on that cold, cold night. Old King Cole was a merry old soul, but he spent a lot of time in leisure and not much is said of his social justice agenda. King Midas loved his daughter very much, but he tried to display his affection by showering her with golden presents. Although these kings were well-meaning, I suppose, but I don’t think calling Jesus such a king is much of a compliment.
We do have biblical kings to study, too. King Saul was the first. He rises from humble origins and is a faithful man, but he does not use his power wisely, nor does he obey God. He is greedy. And after ruling only two years, he falls, tragically. King David followed him. David, too, rose from humble origins — he was a shepherd boy with older brothers. He was not content only to lead the people; he wanted to build a permanent home for God in the city. He was not content with his wife, but let his immoral urges dictate his relationship with the wife of another man. He was victorious in many battles, because of his faithfulness to God, but he did rule only 40 years. David and Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, became a king, too. He is known for his wisdom, but also for his 700 wives and 300 concubines. Not all of his decisions are wise.
So, what are we left with when trying to come to terms with Jesus as the King? Our human understandings of anything are flawed because they are human. We only can define words and describe events in human, flawed, limited terms. Our fairy tales and nursery rhymes create unrealistic heroes, but even they are flawed because we don’t know how to write about anything or anyone who is perfect. Our Bible stories report only human, mortal, flawed men who are tempted, just as we all are, to stray from the law.
Jesus is king above and beyond all our imaginations! He is not like all the other kings: flawed, ambitious, human, mortal. He is a perfect king: a scholar, pious, righteous. He has real power and takes his responsibility for complete care of the people very seriously. He knows the law in his heart and follows it flawlessly. His soul is irretrievably connected to God’s. He is wiser than Solomon because he created the universe, so he knows everything there is to know! If we only compare Jesus to earthly kings, then we don’t have much to celebrate this Sunday. However, we do have the perfect king, and it is with joy that we to honor his reign on this Christ the King Sunday.