I don’t know what picture is conjured up for you when you hear the word king? Throughout the ages notions of kingship and despotism haven’t been far apart. Although he wasn’t a king, Robert Mugabe this week stands out as the last in a line of tyrants who have sought to rule over their people with absolute authority using all means at his disposal to subjugate his people. Monarchs, kings, despots seem also to be extremely keen on their own personal aggrandisement; on getting ever wealthier. Think again of Mugabe.
But Christ the King is a very different form of king. This morning I have one simple aim: to stir you up and renew your fascination in Jesus Christ, the man who on his cross was described, with irony and sarcasm, as the King of the Jews.
Let’s just look at the kingship of Jesus:
- Born in a stable not a palace.
- A man who worked for his living as a carpenter.
- A man who threw off all monarchical luxury and went into the desert to face all of his own temptations. Temptations which if he had ceded to them would have made him just like any other despotic ruler.
- He was a king who seemed oblivious to human constructs and artificial boundaries. He was a man who scandalously included women, tax collectors & Samaritans in his group of followers and friends. He was concerned for the epileptic, ‘demonic,’ and paralytic.
- He touched lepers and, women with serious gynaecological problems. He wasn’t too concerned about humanly constructed notions of purity because for Jesus purity was located in, and flowed from, the heart. Jesus was a king who got a serious amount of muck under his finger nails as he did the dirty work of holiness.
- He cared about the young, the old, the widow and the orphan, the outcast, migrant and refugee. It’s all in the gospel stories.
- He sought to challenge each and every taboo, social, economic, ethnic or religious that had been imposed on society through kings, emperors, and priests.
His style of kingship was concerned – always - with liberation and not subjugation.
Yes, he cared about standards, but not protocols. He cared about how we relate to each other, how we care for each other and how we love each other. These were Jesus’ standards for kingship.
Let them be our standards too. Let our concern be liberation not subjugation.
Over the next week can I invite you to do one thing only:
- To renew a sense of fascination in the upside down and liberating kingship of Jesus Christ and to let his kingship penetrate your very soul. If you do this it will make all the difference in the world both to you and to others.
Give it a go! Amen.
Rev. Andrew Lightbown