Last Saturday King Charles III was crowned in an elaborate ceremony rich in symbolism. He is the monarch of England and, as I understand it, he doesn’t have much real power. The event led me to reflect on Christ, the omnipotent King of the Universe, and make some comparisons.
Charles came to his coronation in a gold coach pulled by white horses. In the book of Revelation, Jesus rides a white horse and on his robe and thigh are the words “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.” Christ is king of the entire universe. Not only did he create it, but he wrested it from Satan. Jesus was crucified because he claimed to be King of the Jews.
Charles wore crowns laden with precious jewels. The only crown Jesus wore on earth was made of thorns.
Charles was presented with the Sovereign’s Orb: a cross on a globe, meaning he has power over the Christian world. Jesus rules every people on earth and in the heavens.
Charles was given two scepters: the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, a symbol of his earthly power, and the Scepter with Dove (the Holy Spirit), which stood for his spiritual role and pastoral care. At the baptism of Jesus when he was anointed for his mission, the Holy Spirit came down on him.
Charles was presented with five swords: The Sword of Temporal Justice, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, the Sword of Mercy, the Sword of Offering, and the Sword of State. These symbolize attributes of his reign. Jesus rules with unsurpassed justice and mercy. Those who belong to his kingdom promote his values: peace, justice, mercy, and love.
Charles received the spurs that stood for knighthood, chivalry, honor and courage. This was revised for him to read “a brave advocate for those in need.” Now that was very Christlike. In fact, the theme of the coronation was “called to serve.”
Charles also received armills, bracelets of sincerity and wisdom, also symbolic of knighthood and military leadership. Jesus won the battle against the powers of evil forever. He called himself the Truth.
At the base of the coronation chair were two lions. Jesus is the lion of Judah, the tribe he belonged to that included his ancestor King David. He now sits enthroned in heaven at the Father’s right hand.
Under Charles’s chair was the Stone of Destiny. Jesus, the stone rejected by the builders, has become the cornerstone.
The Sovereign’s ring, the “Wedding ring of England” was placed on Charles’s finger. Jesus is the bridegroom of the Church.
Seated next to Charles and also crowned was Queen Camilla, his wife. The Queen of Heaven and Earth is Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Singers of all ages celebrated Charles in Westminster Abbey. In heaven multitudes of majestic angels and saints praise Christ in song.
Subjects owed their king loyalty, obedience, and taxes. Christ the King desires nothing less than our lives and our love. According to a parable he told, when our King comes as judge at the end of time, he will separate people into two groups. Those who performed acts of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, will be welcomed into his kingdom of heaven. As St. John of the Cross said, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
Christ is an unusual king. People gave their lives for their king, but our King died for us. 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.
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!
Earthly kings come and go. But Jesus will be King for all eternity.
This passage from 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 extols God’s kingship:
Yours, O Lord, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours;
yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty:
you are exalted as head over all.
riches and honor are from you,
and you have dominion over all.
In your hands are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.
Therefore, our God, we give you thanks
and praise the majesty of your name.
Here is a hymn in praise of Jesus…