CHRIST THE KING (John 18:36)

 

Anyone been to see Frozen 2 yet? Disney loves princesses and royalty.

 

And did you know it is 3? Days to Christmas? “There’s a new king born today…..”

 

Soon the cute Christmas carols will be sung by our primary school kids. All about some kind of a king being born in a stable many years ago.

 

The festival of ‘Christ The King’ is an antidote to the rather sickly sweetness of Christmas these days. It was adopted by Catholics for just that reason in the 1920s and soon spread across the whole spectrum of Christian churches. Today we celebrate the grown up Jesus entering his office of king and priest for all humanity.

 

Kings and queens in Walt Disney are tartars or idiots. We love them. Kings and queens today at least in Europe are constitutional and powerless. As long as they smile sweetly and open things, we tolerate them. Unless of course they mess up, like certain royals this week! But why Christ the king? In what way is the image helpful?

 

When brought before the Roman prefect in Jerusalem Jesus answered Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)

 

Being a King back then was a dodgy business. Local leaders would have to apply to Rome for confirmation in the role of ‘Client King.’ Herod and his ilk were kings of this type. Potential client kings would travel to Rome and offer bribes to Senators for their vote. Once confirmed as King by the Senate they could relay on Rome’s military support, but in return were expected to bleed their province white in taxation, most of which would find its way to Rome, hence all the mention of the hated tax collectors in the Gospels.

 

Pilate would be on the lookout for anything like a threat to all this. To be accused of challenging the system as an alternative ‘King’ was inviting trouble and a capital charge. Suitably pacified by Jesus’ vaguely religious responses to his questions, Pilate, always the wise guy, thought to himself, “Let’s have some fun with these Jews!” Using biting sarcasm he appeared on the balcony and said to the turbulent crowd, “I am due to release a prisoner as gesture of goodwill today. Do you want the ‘King of the Jews’ or someone else?”

 

All that was along time ago. What does it all mean today this “Christ the King” business?

 

The type of King the Bible teaches about is very different from a worldly monarch. It teaches us lots about God too:

 

Kings live in palaces; but this one would live in remote rural village as a member of the most despised race on earth.

 

Kings wear a crown of gold; but this one would wear a crown of thorns.

 

Kings are rich; but this one was a poor carpenter and part time rabbi.

 

Kings command their subjects to do things; this one just asks love and loyalty.

 

Kings have lots of servants; this one is the servant.

 

Kings have armies and can use force; this one only uses the power of love.

 

Kings demand obedience, this one invites us to follow him.

 

Funny sort of a king. But then with this one we can understand exactly what God is like!