Last week, the longest reigning monarch in British history finally yielded her throne. Many of us joined hands and hearts with the citizens of the United Kingdom and the world at large. We shared their grief in losing their beloved Queen Elizabeth II and felt their expectant hope as Britain’s Prince of Wales became King Charles III. For most of us, this demonstration of royal splendor and pageantry is new territory and hard to relate to. After all, any sense of personal connection or involvement with royalty, or those who represent some facet of it, is a pretty uncommon thing on this side of the Atlantic.
Choosing a Response ~
So, what do we do? We could treat it as just another episode in the ongoing saga of the British royal family. With the royal family’s penchant for underlying drama, we could think of it as a new reality TV show. We could see it as a Duck Dynasty re-do, only with classier wardrobes and stars that have cool-sounding British accents. Then again, what if God wants to use it as one of those teachable moments that He unexpectedly brings into our lives? Could it be that all this focus on kings and queens is interwoven with lessons that we ought not to miss? I think I’ll go with the latter option.
Since most of us here in America probably don’t often think about kings, kingdoms, or our relationship to them, this exposure to royal affairs might seem unfamiliar and foreign. But that reaction itself could be considered odd for those of us who consider ourselves to be Christians. When we look at the Bible in general, and Jesus’ ministry in particular, we run into the idea of kings and kingdoms everywhere. For instance, in offering a synopsis of Jesus’ early activities, Matthew included it as one of the central themes of Jesus’ ministry:
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NKJV)
Then there’s that model prayer that Jesus offered to guide His disciples in their own prayers. He began with this:
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come… (Matthew 6:9–10a NKJV)
I must confess that over the years, I’ve probably prayed that prayer hundreds of times without giving much, if any, conscious consideration to what that kingdom request might mean to me personally. While the other things I was asking felt understandable, relevant, and comforting, the part about the kingdom didn’t resonate with the same clarity. But there was no question about its importance when Jesus went full circle and wrapped up the prayer with this:
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13 NKJV)
An Unappealing Picture ~
Our knowledge of history coupled with the culture that has surrounded most of us all our lives has left us with a pretty negative view of monarchies. It’s hard for us to imagine living under a system totally ruled by one person and where the subjects are allowed no say at all about the rules and restrictions imposed on us. We got a taste of that during the COVID era when mandates were being thrown about right and left. Many of us found that practice both frightening and repulsive. We know, of course, that all monarchies aren’t like that.
The U.K., for instance, has had kings and queens since their beginning, but they also have a Parliament. They have a national Constitution, and like us, they consider themselves to be a self-governing representative republic. There is a body of people making the rules, but they’re not put in office simply based on their genealogy. Citizens get to vote them in or out, and there are checks and balances in place to deter tyranny. Other kings and queens throughout history have not had to deal with such inconveniences.
A Royal Tendency Unveiled ~
In the years following the period of the Judges, God’s people approached Samuel and demanded that they be given a king (I Samuel 8:4-5). Their misguided view was that a king would defend them, provide for them, lead their troops into battle, and ensure security and justice for them. Since they were basically rejecting God as their sovereign authority, He decided to let them have what they wanted. God instructed Samuel to tell them what their king would actually do. One characteristic of the king they were demanding stands out. If you take a moment to read I Samuel 8:10-18, you’ll see these words again and again: He will take… He will take… He will take. . .
Throughout history, that has been the legacy of kings and autocratic tyrants, and it continues today. No wonder we shy away from the notion of yielding our autonomy, relinquishing our rights, and surrendering ourselves to serve a king. Yet here we are, confronted with all those references that Jesus made to a kingdom.
Whether our cultural comfort zone accommodates it or not, one thing is undeniable. The “good news” that Jesus proclaimed was about a Kingdom, not a representative republic. He invited society’s worst sinners and its hopeless outcasts into a Kingdom, not a democracy where the majority rules. Kingdoms are measured and defined by the character and power of the kings that rule over them. Jesus came to establish a Kingdom unlike any that the world has seen before or since.
A Different Kind of King ~
This Kingdom has a King willing to go where other kings would never go . . . He walked among the downtrodden, encouraged the lowly, and embraced the poor. He sat at tables spurned by other nobles and shared meals with those the world’s kings despised. He invaded territories reserved for royals and social elites and exposed their arrogant hypocrisy. This King touched the unclean, embraced the unholy, loved the unlovable, and healed the incurable. He ushered sunlight into the dark hovels of depression and despair. This King fed hungry bodies and quenched the thirst of famished souls. He confronted the unspeakable grief when life is lost and love is gone. This King shared those tears, felt that grief, and then stood up and sent death and the grave back to hell where they belong. This King didn’t come to take. He came to give, and He came to give more than the temporal trinkets offered by other potentates. This King came to do something that the entire collection of earth’s royals would find not only unthinkable. It would be impossible. The royal proclamations that Jesus delivered to us are beyond profound. Here are a couple of examples:
For even the Son of Man [one of our King’s titles] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 NKJV)
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 NKJV)
One thing is abundantly clear. Even those who wear jeweled crowns will one day be forced to relinquish everything. Death will take our titles, crowns and any authority we claim, and only two options remain. One leads to judgment and banishment to a dark and painful realm with no love, no comfort, no hope, and no end. The other leads to the presence of a beloved King who accepted the judgment we deserve and who invites us into a Kingdom where peace, joy, love, and harmony are guaranteed forever. The choice must be made before we exit this life. Now would be a good time to join me in that prayer Jesus offered… Thy Kingdom come!
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Jesus invited society’s worst sinners and its hopeless outcasts into a Kingdom — not a democracy where the majority rules. He came to establish a Kingdom unlike any the world has seen before or since.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus touched the unclean, embraced the unholy, loved the unlovable, and healed the incurable. He ushered sunlight into the dark hovels of depression and despair. This King fed hungry bodies and quenched the thirst of famished souls.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus confronted the unspeakable grief when life is lost & love is gone. Our King shared those tears, felt that grief & then stood up & sent death & the grave back to hell where they belong. This King didn’t come to take. He came to give.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Even those who wear jeweled crowns will one day be forced to relinquish everything. Death will take our titles, crowns and any authority we claim.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “A beloved King accepted the judgment we deserve & invites us into a Kingdom where peace, joy, love & harmony are guaranteed forever. The choice must be made before we exit this life. Join me in that prayer Jesus offered… Thy Kingdom come!” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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