Kings have gone out of style. Mostly we use the term king for a man who excels at something, for example, King James (LaBron) is a great basketball player and a prom king is the most popular boy in high school. Scroll back a few centuries and kings were powerful rulers of countries who made laws, commanded armies, and levied taxes. The feast of Christ the King, which closes out the liturgical year, was established in 1925. It celebrates that Jesus is King of heaven and earth.
Jesus was crucified on the charges that he claimed to be King of the Jews. In reality, because Jesus is God, he not only is King of the Jews but king of the whole universe. When Pilate asked Jesus if he were king, he didn’t deny it. At the end of the world, Christ will come in glory and his kingdom will be fully established. The Book of Revelations offers a figurative image of him. He is called Faithful and True and rides a white horse. On his robe and thigh is the name “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Christ is an unusual king. Soldiers die for their king, but Jesus gave his life for his people. Kings live in luxury, but when Jesus walked the earth, he opted to be a poor, itinerant preacher. Kings lord it over their people, but Jesus served others and taught his followers to humbly do so too. Kings wear crowns, but Jesus had only a crown of thorns as a torture device. Kings have queens at their side, and while Jesus has no female divine partner, his mother Mary is granted the title Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Like other kings, though, Jesus expects loyalty. Members of his kingdom abide by his law of love. They work to spread his kingdom by attracting others to him. By our baptism we share in the kingly, priestly, and prophetic roles of Christ. That means we are royalty too.
Jesus is king because he truly is the best and the greatest. No wonder people live and die for him.
Do you have a favorite name for Jesus other than King and Lord?