The Scriptures say that Jesus is the King. That’s wonderful news, yes? In the midst of the violence and turmoil in Ukraine, it is good to know that this world has a King. On election day here in Texas, it is good to know we all have a King.
Except, Jesus didn’t go to Nazareth Prep School or to the Jerusalem Military Academy. He didn’t raise up a militia and march to Rome to confront the head of the occupying forces. The very first thing Jesus did after his coronation was to go out to the desert for a 40-day fast and face-off with the devil.
If you really are the Son of God, if you really are the King, then act like a King is supposed to act. If you really are the Son of God, turn these rocks into Subway sandwiches. I know how hungry you are. Use your power to make yourself something to eat.
If you really are the King, jump off the temple tower and walk away without a scratch. Blow the people away with your power and invincibility. Become a pop culture icon, a social media influencer, with your own reality TV show and a clothing line.
If you really are the King, take charge of all the kingdoms of the world. If you’re really the King, then rule! Take over the world and dominate! Win!
Jesus said, “No.” He straight up refused. Our Lord resisted the temptation to be a King the way all of us understand “king.”
We are so enamored with politicians and their potency. We’re so eaten up with their platforms and powers. We put their stickers on our cars and we stick their signs in our yards. We cheer as they manipulate. We identify as they insult. We exalt in their personality and force.
Jesus looks at all that and says, “No.”
The first things we really see about Jesus are not in what he affirms, but in what he rejects. We know right from the start that Jesus is not going to be a King the way everybody else is a king. It’s going to be different.
What ought to frighten us, or at least us give us great pause and lead us to careful reflection, is that most of us would give our right arm for the very things Jesus rejected. The things we cheer for, the practices we encourage, the ideals we most care about, the lines we draw, the issues that bring us the most joy, the things that cause us pain – I’m not sure they’re in line with our King and his Kingdom.
Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would fight.”
When you say, “Jesus is Lord,” it means Caesar is not. Jason and the Christians who were meeting in his house in Thessalonica were arrested and charged for that kind of talking and behaving. “They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another King, one called Jesus!” (Acts 17:7)
Jesus says you can’t serve two masters. You’re going to love the one and hate the other. You’re going to be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both.
Most people I know are trying to serve both.