"Through the Scriptures we see a growing awareness of what it means to call Christ “King”. In the early parts of the Old Testament, God’s Reign was seen as very much like human empires, but bigger and more powerful. The dominant idea in these passages is that God destroys God’s enemies, and crushes all opposition in order to create a world of justice and peace. In the prophets, the language employed to describe God’s Reign becomes “apocalyptic” (which means it is revelatory – revealing deep truths).
This language is not to be taken literally, but employs metaphor, mystery, image and poetry to convey truths that are beyond human understanding. This is the same language that is used in the last book of the New Testament – Revelation. At first glance this language also seems to be about power through dominance and violence, but when we place it alongside the teachings of Jesus, we see a different picture. In Jesus, the Reign of God is revealed to be peaceful, merciful, compassionate and just. Yes, evil is confronted, but always from a place of love for enemies.
And, yes, God’s Reign is proclaimed as the ultimate authority that will over come all others, but not through violence and destruction. Rather, it is through the cross – the sacrificial, serving, loving way of Christ – that God’s Reign floods the world."
In John’s gospel for today, Jesus says “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Perhaps the ‘this’ Jesus is referring to is a motioning with his hands to the cross, the most clear demonstration of God’s love for humanity and the truest definition of kingship. Jesus redefines what power is and what people think God’s power looks like to fight evil and suffering in the world. Jesus does not resist the way of the cross with force.
Rather than protecting himself from harm in any way, the vulnerable King Jesus dares to demonstrate God’s love for all people. Jesus does not run from pain, anguish, or suffering. Rather, the risen Jesus, “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5), rushes to the places of disaster and suffering in the world. Jesus goes where storms are ravaging and have ravaged lives and brings life and calm into the chaos.
The UnKing by John van de Laar
We call you 'King', Jesus,
but you're not like any king we've ever heard of;
You don't flaunt your power,
waving your hand dismissively
to change the lives of your subjects;
You don't hoard your wealth,
and tax your people just to grow more comfortable
in your isolated palace;
You don't exploit the weak and unconnected,
or use the ambition of ladder-climbers
to further your control.
No, you are the King who lays down his crown,
to walk among us as one of us;
You are the King who lays down his life,
to bring abundant, eternal life to all who seek it;
You are the King who draws the weak, the rejected, the poor, the child
into the centre of the conversation
and into the heart of where real power lies.
You, Jesus, are the UnKing – the King whose Kingdom,
redefines everything we know
and will continue to do so for eternity.