This morning as we processed in we proclaimed Jesus Christ as our king, blessing and praising His name. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus is our King! We have just proclaimed Him as such; picture in your mind what that means. He is ruler of all. At His name, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of all. There will be great processions in His honor, and great banquets celebrating His glory. He is raised up above of all and we bow before His glorious throne. IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING!
We live in a world today with a skewed and cynical view of our leaders. In our culture, we reject the very notion of a king who commands us, who lords over us, who benefits at the expense of His subjects. And even our democratic solution to the problem of royal privilege is seen as only a marginal improvement. Now we have leaders more interested in getting elected than in governing; in currying favor than in leading; in spinning than taking responsibility. If we have so little respect for our elected leaders, how much worse would it be to have a king; a despot that demands our obeisance and unquestioned adoration and obedience to his royal personage. From the view of those below, IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING!
But is it? Our cynical, modern view of monarchy colors our understanding of what it means for Jesus to be our king. So just what does it mean to be a king? Does it mean that you get to dress in the finest raiment? Does it mean you are above all and obeyed by all? Does it mean that all you survey is yours by right to do with as you see fit? Is this what it means to be the king? If so, then it truly is good to be the king. But is it? In the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel, the people of Israel demanded a king. Were they asking for a despotic ruler who would (in Samuel’s words):
“take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots… appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots… take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers… take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants… take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants… take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work… take the tenth of your flocks, and make you his slaves?”
Is this what it meant to the people to have a king? They said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” They wanted a king! They wanted not one who would lord over them, but lead them; not one who would dominate them; but direct them; not one who would possess them, but protect them. The people wanted one who would take personal responsibility for all that happened in and happened to Israel. You see, to them a king was not one who lived off the people, but lived for the people. The king’s whole reason for being was to care for his people. He did not send them off to fight HIS battles, rather he led them into battle, and he fought for them. The king did not fatten himself off of his people; he did not seek his own good, but always sought was best for his people. The people trusted their king, because the king lived and died for his people, and answered to God for his stewardship of his people.
But this is not what the people got. They got rulers as fallen and sinful as they were. Why, because they had rejected the only king who could deliver on what the people wanted. God said to Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” Israel had the king they wanted, but they rejected Him for a king in their own image. And this is what they got, a king that sought His own way; that used the people for His own benefit; that exercised his power and ignored his responsibility. And it was good to be the king.
But now Jesus – God the Son – has come and we have proclaimed Him as our Lord and King. The king for whom we have so long sought is here. Jesus did not come for power and glory. He came to love and care for His people. “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” He saw the people lost and alone; fallen in sin and despair, ignorant of what was coming. He said, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. ” Their King had come, but even in proclaiming Him king, they did not understand what that meant. They saw a king who would bring them strength and power and glory as he brought himself these things. They saw a king that would free them from economic tyranny and bring prosperity. They saw a king that would cast out the Romans and make them a great power on the world stage. And less than a week later they would reject their newly proclaimed king and declare, “We have no king but Caesar.” They rejected their king and sent Him to His death in favor of a king made in their own image. And for Caesar, it was good to be the king.
But Caesar is not our true king, Jesus is. Not because we proclaim Him King, not because we invest Him with royal power and authority. He is King by right. He is King by divine right and because He earned the right. He is our true King because He alone took on the true responsibility of being King. Jesus came to be our King, our true and ideal King. He came to live for us; He came to care for us; He came to guide and direct us; He came to die for us. Our King was lifted up on high, not to be glorified and adored, but nailed to the cross as a common thief. Our King Jesus laid down His life for us as only the true king would. And through faith in Him given to us by the Father, He is our King and His salvation is ours. He is not King because we elected Him, but because He elected us. The king we believed impossible is with us now and forever. Amen.