“Jesus redefines what it means to be King.”
By Pastor Michael Cofer
24th Sunday of Pentecost – Christ the King
Ever done this one? You run around the house looking for your car keys. You pull the cushions out of the couch. You look under your bed. No keys. So then you look out in the yard… under the car… nothing. And then, you reach down and pat your pocket. Doh!
Or my favorite is the same scenario with glasses. You’re looking all over for your glasses, and you can’t find them… but boy your vision is sharp! Oh… you’re wearing them already.
Sometimes the thing you’re looking for is right there in front of you. If you’ve been reading along in the Story, you will see how God has fought for and provided for Israel every step of the way. He cleared the way ahead of them. He laid down just and righteous laws.
And yet Israel begged for a King. “Give us a king to lead us… We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” Exodus, Joshua, and Judges all tell the story of how God did exactly that. So, Israel begged for a King, but they already had one.
The whole exchange seems pretty foolish, when you look at it at a distance. How could they be so blind to what’s so obvious to you and me? It’s because when they looked back at what God had done, they claimed it as their own.
And sometimes we’re no better. We think we deserve our jobs. We think we’re responsible for our good health. We think we’re loved because we’re the kind of person that’s easy to love. When in truth, every good thing we have finds its source in God’s hand.
We’re all hard-wired to think this way. But our Perspective will lead to Ignorance when we don’t Give God the credit for what He has done. That is why worship is one of the cornerstones of Christian life. God commands us to have a reality check at least once a week. Observing the Sabbath means setting aside one day to reflect on what God has done… and give HIM credit for it.
And so it was with Israel. They were convinced that they were king-less – when in fact it was only that they were living as though they had no king. But they were insistent. There had to be someone better qualified. Someone tall and strong and brave. They got Saul (so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad).
Of course, God knew it wouldn’t be ideal. He knew that there was nobody in Israel or anywhere on earth who could do his job for him. A human king meant giving up their sons and daughters. It meant giving up another 10% of their wealth on top of the tithe. It meant favoritism and cronyism.
And even after hearing all of that, Israel insisted. And this should stand as a warning for us. When we insist on our way, God will sometimes grant it. So He gave Israel a king. And another, and another… There were better kings and worse kings, but none would rule the way that God had. After all, even the best kings of Israel still died.
Which brings us to today – Christ the King Sunday. The celebration of the eternal reign of the King of Kings. The celebration of God reclaiming His reign through Jesus.
Jesus redefines what it means to be King. Unlike Saul (and all the other kings), he doesn’t claim the benefits of being King. He doesn’t exercise his rule to amplify Himself. In fact, He at every turn humbles Himself.
He is pretty much the opposite of everything that earthly kings are. He doesn’t send your children to war. He certainly doesn’t ask anyone to charge ahead of him into battle! His rule isn’t marked by what He takes, but by what He brings. He is first to Give, first to Serve, and first to Offer His Life.
Jesus is a king unlike any other king. And He is very up front about this. “[The] Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Which is why so many folks don’t recognize His reign yet. It’s natural for us to think of greatness and authority as being marked by privilege and prominence. We expect important people to act important.
But in God’s kingdom, the whole equation is flipped upside. The great serve the least. No one promotes himself. No one fights to save the King… But the King willingly lays down His life for His subjects.
You know, deep down everybody wants a king. Our hopes rise and fall on election days. Our stomachs churn as we wait for results… We just wish there was someone in charge we could trust to fix it… Whatever “it” is. But nobody lives up to their campaign promises. And even if they could, someone else will come along behind them and mess it up again.
Jesus is the king our hearts long for… Even if His reign doesn’t look like we’d expect. He keeps His promises. He loves his people more than His own life. Every one of his decrees is just, his judgments are merciful and his battles all end in victory. Best of all, His reign is eternal.
Israel cried out for a king, and now He is here. Jesus Christ is our King!