Christ the King – A New Kind of King
November 20-21, 2010
Kings and queens, princes and princesses have been in the news a lot lately.
Whether you’re a great fan of the British royal family or not,
I doubt many here missed the fanfare in announcing the royal engagement
of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The news made some major headlines
even here “across the pond”!
We heard that William gave Kate his mother’s ring,
and saw pictures of the cabin where he proposed in Kenya.
We listened to the debate begin over the cost of a royal wedding
and who should pay for it.
We watched Kate and her parents take a tour of Westminster Abbey
and the London bookies giving it 1/33 odds as the future venue.
All this hullabaloo is of course because Prince William is 2nd in line to the throne.
Presumably, someday, William will be king.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a member of the royal family.
What would it be like to grow up knowing that someday you would be king?
Of course, some of my thoughts are just silly…
When William was in grade school and played “King of the Hill,” did his friends always let him win?”
Did he ever go to the Burger King in London and get one of those paper crowns for practice?
Did his friends ever tease him and ask, “Who died and made you king?”
But seriously, how does it change a person to know from a young age
that they are destined to be a ruler of nations?
This weekend we celebrate Christ the King.
From an early age, Jesus knew that he was a king too.
He was never to be just a symbolic king or a figurehead king,
like modern day British monarchs, however.
He was going to be a king to be reckoned with.
He was a king who would even bring fear and trepidation to other kings!
At his birth, those three kings – the magi from the Orient came searching for him, asking,
“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”
King Herod was so frightened by the thought of a rival king,
he wanted this new baby put to death – and just to be sure he’d gotten rid of him,
he ordered the massacre of all the children under the age of 2.
Jesus’ mother Mary sang her song of warning that indeed the kings of this world
had good reason to fear,
for her son, the king, would bring down the mighty from their thrones.
And yet, as he grew up, Jesus’ life was so unlike what we know of kings.
There were no royal engagement parties or fancy processions.
When he came into Jersualem,
he came in riding on a donkey – not a chariot.
When the sign which called him the “King of the Jews” was placed over him,
it wasn’t over a throne, but over the cross on which he hung.
When he was crowned, it wasn’t a crown filled with precious gems,
but it was a crown of thorns.
To many, yes it was.
But to those who knew the promises of Scripture,
the Old Testament promises of the Bible that Jesus grew up with, maybe not.
Today’s reading from the prophet Jeremiah is clear…
God will raise up a king – a new king – a new kind of king in fact.
Jeremiah begins, “Woe to the shepherds…!”
who have scattered the sheep and destroyed the flock.
For Jeremiah these shepherds are the leaders…
They are kings and rulers, presidents and governors;
They are pastors and teachers, parents and officers of the law;
They are lawyers and judges, managers and business owners.
They are anyone given the responsibility to care for and protect others.
“Woe to you…when you scatter the sheep and destroy the flock.
Woe to you when you fail to attend to them;
when you fail to take care of them;
when you drive them away.
“After all,” the Lord says, “they are my sheep; my flock; my people.”
How dare you?!
How dare you?!
I will take care of you!
Getting warm in here?
The promise of judgment is there;
but there is promise of hope too.
Where we fail as shepherd leaders, God takes over.
God says, “I myself will gather my flock;
I will bring them back to the fold;
They will no longer feel lost;
They will no longer be afraid (despite you!)
I will find them – all of them — and I will bring them back to me.
“And how am I going to do this?
I am doing this by raising up a new king – a new kind of king.
This king will be a righteous king, a wise king.
One who brings justice to all people – especially the most vulnerable.
One who brings salvation (healing) to all people – especially the most broken.
One who brings righteousness – honesty and goodness to all people – especially those who feel the most unworthy.
And let me give you a hint about this king…
this king will come from the line of great King David.
Now I don’t want to give away the ending here…
but as Christians we understand this king of justice and mercy,
this king who searches out the lost sheep until they all are found,
this king who brings healing – we understand this king to be Jesus
(who was by the way, born of the house of David.)
And so, is it any wonder that this king Jesus
did not have royal robes or horses or crowns?
Is it any wonder that he was such a new kind of king,
that the powers of this world wanted to get rid of him?
Bearers of justice, salvation, and righteousness
are not often the most popular people in our world.
They tend to make people uncomfortable.
They tend to tell people to give to others in outrageous ways.
They tend to tell people to love others in outrageous ways.
They tend to tell people to forgive others in outrageous ways.
That was the new kind of king Jesus was.
This new kind of king came into the world,
and the world was not ready for him.
The season of Advent begins next week.
Once again, we get ready to welcome king Jesus into our world.
The question I leave with you this day is,
“Are we ready for this new kind of king – even yet?”