I must admit that I find it difficult to imagine Jesus under the image of the “King”. When we think of “king” we think of power and prestige, beauty and splendour, wealth and honour.But where do we find Christ as King? We see Jesus between two criminals on the cross. We see Jesus in his greatest humiliation. We see him tormented, mistreated, mocked and ridiculed. Jesus not on a royal throne, but on the stake of shame, not with a royal crown, but with a crown of thorns.
Instead of glory – shame; instead of power – powerlessness; instead of beauty – blood and wounds; instead of triumph – suffering and pain; instead of victory – seemingly failed, in the end, not a winner but a loser.
What a contrast: Christ as King – Christ on the cross. How do they go together?
This tension runs through the whole life of Jesus. In the beginning: not a palace, but a stable, not a soft bed, but a feeding trough. When the people want to make Jesus king after the multiplication of bread, he withdraws.
When he enters Jerusalem, it is not an expensive state chariot that carries him, not even a proud horse, but a donkey. At the Last Supper he gets up from the table and does his slave-service. He bends down and washes their feet. Jesus does not choose the ascent but the descent, not earthly royal power but the way through suffering and the cross.
Jesus replaces self-assertion with self-giving. He stands up for others. He does not wash the disciples’ heads, but their feet. He does not demand for himself, he gives. He gives everything. The great ones in history let people die for themselves. Jesus died for the people out of love. That is his greatness. Therein lies his kingship: in the power of love.
The royal power of his love can still be seen in his powerlessness on the cross. If we want to experience it, we must go to the cross on Golgotha. There we hear Jesus say: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. This is where Christ’s power to rule is revealed. He who can truly forgive, even his enemies, is the most powerful one on earth. For truly forgiving is the hardest thing among us human beings. But we also experience this in our personal lives. How good we are at paying back! How long can we hold grudges! How difficult is reconciliation for us!
Jesus is King: Peace, love and mercy are his weapons.
His kingdom is therefore not built with power and strength,
but with the hearts of the people and with their willingness
to be there for each other and to do good to each other.