Christ the King – Maybe the Pharisees Were Right – For the Wrong Reason 

Jesus entry into Jerusalem

We all know the passage from Luke (19:38) on the occasion of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem… “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”

But how many of us remember the next verse? “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” They wanted Jesu to rebuke the crowd. He didn’t. But listen to what he said when question by Pilate.

Jesus answered,

“My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
… “You say I am a king.* For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Jesus: A king unlike any other king

What kind of a king is Jesus?

The kingship is often misunderstood. His disciples tried to make him a king. Pilate clearly did not understand. The crowds tried to make him a king as they understood it. Pilate mockingly asked, “Are you a king?”

To understand Christ the King we must remember what he did at his last meal. He washed the feet of disciples, something a lowly servant did for his master. Then he pointedly asked them, “Do you understand what I have done? I, your Lord and Master (King?), have washed your feet. I want you to wash one another’s feet in love.” He even added, “Do this in memory of me!”

Only in the days after Pentecost would they realize what he meant by “Do this in memory of me.” His kingship is not about getting but of giving. It is not about being served but of serving. “I come not to be served but to serve.” It is about serving, helping, loving… even unto death on a cross no less.

An upside-down kingdom

What does this kingdom look like?  Three insights from scripture…

The Body of Christ

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. In short, we are all the body of Christ. Col 3:11

One Body, Many Parts.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
…Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1 Corinthians 12)

Living accordingly

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:11)

Those who celebrate this kind of king.  Let us “listen to him” and therefore live as “foot-washing disciples.” Certainly a far cry from our polarized communities living behind all kinds of walls. Maybe we also get it wrong with our emphasis on words rather than actions.

Living in the kingdom of God

  • Do we just celebrate a feast of Christ the King or live as members of such a kingdom?
  • Do we insist on our first places at table, and our own greatness?
  • Are we willing to follow a foot-washing king?
  • Do we seek to be served rather than to served?

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