We bestow many titles on Jesus but that of “king” seems to be one that is inappropriate. It smacks of the kind of things that Jesus rejected. When we think of a king we think of a throne, a crown, a palace, great wealth, power, prestige, servants and an army for protection.
When we look at Jesus what do we see? There is no throne, no crown, no palace, no servants. We see him walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a small band of disciples. He is surrounded by the poor and the sick, by sinners and outcasts. In short, by the kind of people who in worldly kingdoms are looking in through the gates of the royal palace.
And yet the title “king” is appropriate, and stands for something that true and real in Jesus. First of all it stands for his divinity. Jesus is Lord of all, the King of the universe, the One to whom we own our complete fidelity and allegiance, the Ruler and Judge of all.
Even on the human level the title makes sense. He was the greatest source of goodness, light, and hope in a world filled with sin and darkness. Jesus had tremendous moral and spiritual authority by reason of the kind of person he was. His presence changed the lives of those around him. His attitude towards sinners and outcasts was one of kindness and persuasion rather than condemnation. In that sense, Jesus was indeed a king.
We have to make a distinction between authority and influence on the one hand, and power and control on the other. Some of the people with the greatest moral authority are quite powerless, and the most influential have no need to control those they influence. So it was with Jesus. Pilate had power over people; Jesus had influence on them. Jesus made his presence felt simply by the kind of person he was. There was a quiet authority about everything he said and did.
Jesus did speak of a kingdom, that being the Kingdom of Heaven. His Kingdom represents all those things which the world does not stand for but which deep down it hungers for, all that is right and true, all that is beautiful, just, and good. Jesus’ Kingdom will come in its fullness when God’s Will for all of creation will be done.
Christ the King does not need or desire soldiers and tanks. Christ the King does need warriors, people who are ready to “fight” for justice, truth, and peace. There is a battle being waged between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light; the kingdom of lies and the kingdom of truth; the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of good. May we be sincere in our prayer when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!”
— Fr. Dennis, November 25, 2018