Kings. Who believes in kings any more. Kings are an old fashioned way of governing. Today we elect our governments, and we say what they should do. We the people decide what we want and political parties compete to gain our vote and get elected to implement the programme we have chosen.
When we think of kings therefore we think of a person with absolute power, even over life and death. We think of someone who must not be offended, and someone who expects to be obeyed. A king is someone who decides the law, and who will ensure that his law is enforced. He will decide who is to be favoured and who will be punished in accordance with how he sees us and our situation.
Out inclinations and desires are secondary, if not irrelevant.
So, kings are not an institution we will tolerate for one moment. Except for those quaint customary and ceremonial monarchs like Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom. She has no power at all, and must do what the government elected by her people say they want.
But that is not at all the nature of the King we read of in the Bible.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus Christ is described as the “King of kings”. That is the King over all earthly governments. And his kingship is that of an old fashioned monarch, not that of some present day ceremonial figure head.
And therein lies the problem for us.
Because a King in the old fashioned mould will tell us what is to be done, and will expect us to obey. And if we disobey, he will take corrective action.
No, today we prefer to be our own master, our own kings. We tell governments what to do; or at least that’s the theory and the general expectation.
But Jesus is described as a King. As such his law is paramount, and obedience to his law required. Not optional, but obligatory. Not if we happen to agree, but even if we disagree. Because what we say is irrelevant by comparison with what the King says.
And if the king says it, we must do it. Our wants and our feelings are beside the point. And that is a fact of life which we today have a real problem accepting.
Not only the political world, but the economic and social world we inhabit today are predicated on what we want. Self satisfaction and self fulfilment and self advancement. In our world, Self rules.
But in Jesus kingdom, self must be subject to the King, not to us.
Self must surrender – of its own will – to obey the king. Nothing less will do.
In the 12th chapter of John the Evangelist’s Gospel account, we read that the Jewish people welcomed Jesus on his final approach to Jerusalem with the words:
Hosanna – Blessed is the king of Israel who cometh in the name of the Lord
Now the Gospel account tells us two vitally important things.
The first is the nature of this king.
This king did not come as other kings, lording it over the people. Domineering, self interested. Self important.
No this king came teaching good, doing miracles for people, giving his life on a cross. In short this king came as an example to be followed, not as an overwheening Ego to be applauded and flattered.
This king came “in the name of the Lord”. He came according to God’s great plan and purpose to save self centred human beings from themselves, and from the oppression of Satanic darkness.
He came living the obedience to God which he taught. He came an example.
He came frankly as the ultimate Hero figure.
And he came, too, as the king of a particular people – the people of Israel.
The people of Israel then were but a remnant of the original nation of the Jews who escaped from Egypt and became a great nation.
That original great nation had disobeyed God and – following centuries of warning – were punished with subjection to foreign rulers in foreign lands. A remnant were spared and restored to Jerusalem some 400 years before Christ’s coming.
And of that remnant’s descendants, many became followers of Jesus Christ. But not all. Because the criterion for being a subject of this king, now, was not being born a Jew in physical, racial terms, but being born a Jew spiritually, according to spiritual laws and spiritual obedience no less real and vital than the physical terms and conditions.
Jesus Christ King of Israel – the spiritual Israel, the true church of the New Covenant, the New Testament which supercedes the physical terms and ritual of the Old Testament.
A testament where the King sets the example and requires it to be followed, faithfully.