Summary: Instead of ruling from a throne, Christ the King reigns from the cross. In doing so he invites our allegance with the power of his love.
Luke 23:33-43 “The Life and Death of a King”
For the most part, we have a very jaded view of kings and royalty. They have, in a way, outlived their usefulness. We now use them for entertainment purposes. We read about their less-than-kingly exploits in the tabloids, and they are relegated to ship christenings and mall openings.
Historically we have focused on the bad kings of the world, men like Ivan the Terrible, George III, Louis XIV, or Hirohito. Good kings—those designated as benevolent despots—received only a footnote in history.
In the beginning, kings were not only powerful men, they also defined and shaped the words “noble,” and honorable.” We certainly see this in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He wears those titles well, because he not only demonstrates how God moves in the world, but also lives a life that we are invited and challenged to emulate.
THE POWER OF LOVE
Jesus is a different type of king. Most kings rule by force. They are able to be kings because they can beat anyone else who thinks that they’d like to be a king. They expand their kingdoms by defeating other kings and taking their territory. Though Jesus is the creator of all—God Almighty—he does not rule by force but by love.
Two keys passages of Scripture celebrate this great love of God in Jesus. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life. Another passage was written by Paul in his letter to the Philippians. He writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross.”
Jesus doesn’t rule from a throne, but rather from a cross. He rules with the power of love. He could have answered the taunts of the people and the religious rulers. He could have climbed down from the cross and saved himself. They probably still would not have believed that he was the Christ, the Son of God. Instead of taking the easy path, he willingly chose to give up his life so that that we may live. Jesus was consumed by love.
At times the people of God—the Church—have resorted to the use of earthly power. When they have, they have never achieved the goals that God has set before them. The Church reaches people and touches lives only when it exercises the power of love.
THE NOBELNESS OF FORGIVENESS
Kings and other royalty have marched to the beat of a different drummer. They have not lived common lives, but rather noble lives. They are challenged to accomplish noble, or good, deeds.
Jesus demonstrated his nobleness when he prays, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus not only preached forgiveness, he also exercised forgiveness.
Forgiveness is one of the most difficult Christian actions that Jesus calls us to. Of course it is easy at forgive people for the little things of life. Jesus challenges us to forgive others for the big things in life. He challenges us to forgiven when people have tried to hurt us or the people we love. He calls us to forgive when people don’t ask for forgiveness. Jesus asks his disciples to follow his example and forgive.
In Jesus God tells the world very plainly that when offended there are two options: revenge or forgiveness. Revenge doesn’t work—it never has and it never will. Forgiveness works. We are able not only to live a noble life, but also an abundant life.
THE KINGDOM OF OUR LIVES
Kings usually rule geographical kingdoms, but not Jesus.
Jesus lived, died, and rose again in order to establish the kingdom of God, but this kingdom does not know any earthly boarders. The Kingdom of God is in the lives of God’s people. We live in a personal relationship with God with Jesus as our Lord and we are his loyal subjects.
Jesus’ kingdom expands as people around us respond to our loving and bold witness, and our demonstration of God’s grace and love in our works of service. The power of love and the nobleness of forgiveness have a transforming, life-giving power in people’s lives.
Earthly kings have forced the loyalty of their subjects through the use of power and coercion. Jesus invites our loyalty through his love and forgiveness.
Jesus invites us to live in his kingdom, experience the abundant life that is ours through the cross of Christ, and share that life with others.