No Ordinary King

By John Witte Jr.

The Bible teaches that Christ the King is infinitely more powerful than any ruler on earth, even the Roman emperor or the Jewish King Herod, who were the supreme rulers of Christ’s day.  These earthly kings ruled only for a lifetime.  Christ rules eternally.  These earthly kings ruled only over a limited territory.  Christ rules everywhere.  These earthly kings had only political power.  Christ has power over all creation.  He orders the waves to be still.  He turns water into wine.  He feeds five thousand from one boy’s lunch bag.  He heals the sick.  He restores the disabled.  He drives out demons from their tormented hosts.  He summons corpses from their graves.  And when Christ rose from His own tomb, He made resurrection and eternal life available to all who believe in Him.  This was no ordinary king.

But for all this infinite and eternal power, Christ’s incarnation as king is modest, understated, sublime, and sacrificial.  Christ was born not in a palace but in a stable, close to the ground, surrounded by animals and shepherds.  He did not travel with a legion of soldiers, as the Roman emperor did, but wandered about the countryside with a dozen men of humble origin.  He dined not in elegant splendor with the rich and the powerful but with tax collectors and prostitutes, Samaritans and sojourners, the down-and-outs of the day.

Christ did not clatter into Jerusalem, as King Herod did, sitting in a splendid chariot bedecked with gold and jewels and drawn by twelve strong horses with shiny silver saddles.  Christ plodded into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey who had never been ridden or broken.  Christ did not enter Jerusalem through the main wide gate at the end of the straight road.  He came through the smaller back gate, having descended the Mount of Olives and passed through the Valley of Death, which was known as Hell (Gehenna, eh).  Christ did not come to Jerusalem to attend a royal feast, as becomes an heir of the house of King David.  He came to preside over a simple last supper with his friends, prefaced by his self-humbling act of washing their feet, even those of the one who would betray Him.

When later arrested on trumped-up charges by local authorities, Christ did not claim sovereign immunity as any higher power of the day would have.  His simple defense was, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Even Pontius Pilate recognized this was no ordinary king.

While Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, Christ still rules in this world.  But, in extraordinary defiance of every handbook on royalty, Christ rules in the hearts of fragile, weak, and sinful people.  Christ appoints us to be His royal witnesses and ambassadors on earth.  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own  people,”  Peter wrote to the new Christians (1Pet.2:9, NRSV).  Each of us is called to represent and reflect, to embody and embrace God’s royal prerogatives and divine rights on earth.

These rights belong to God the Father, who created humans in His own image and commanded them to worship and obey Him.  These rights belong to God the Son, Who embodies Himself in the church and demands the full and free exercise of this body on earth.  As image bearers of God, each of us is called to reflect the Father’s glory and majesty in the world, to represent God’s sovereign interests in the church, state, and society.

 Adapted from “Christianity Today” (July, 2011)


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