A King's Problem

Tom Bartolomeo
Christ the King C 2013
2 Samuel 5: 1-5; Psalm 122;
Colossians 1: 12-20; Luke 23: 35-43
Reproduced with Permission

Not an ordinary problem that couldn't be fixed, but still a problem God choose to accept, surrender his will to men. You can read the story in the first Book of Samuel. God never intended ( in a sense ) to construct a heaven for royalty and vassals. It began when his misguided chosen people wanted a king to rule over them although God had been their Lord since the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and had been their Lord to Moses who led them to the promised land of their forefathers. Then Samuel, the prophet, centuries later who had led them "all the days of his life" was confronted by

"all the elders of Israel gathered together . . . and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. ( 1 Samuel 7:15-8:1 ).

"Like all the nations", they said, instead of relating personally with God through one of his prophets like Samuel they would rather follow a man of the world whose motives which were not always God's and many of them would die for the sake of a man's ambition. God knew that they would lose much of their freedom to the state as they had to other kings, the Pharaoh in Egypt, the kings of Babylon, Assyria and in Jesus' time the Roman Empire. Before they had kings Abraham, Moses, Samuel and other prophets had the ear of God, and they could mollify God's strict justice but not a worldly ruler although a few kings as David and Solomon were exceptions who had the mind of God about them.

It was just another problem Jesus had to deal with as Lord of heaven and earth in the person of the Son of Man among fallen men including his Apostles who at first were looking for the kingdom of God on earth . . . or at least on earth, first. They couldn't conceive that Jesus would die, had told them at least three times he would suffer and die, but they dismissed the matter as some kind of riddle. (As old as each of us gets our dying seems like a riddle, too, not considering how few our remaining days may be at sixty, seventy and eighty.) We may tirelessly work day in and day out for a life in this world which does not last. When Pilate was told that Jesus was an enemy of Rome he took notice and when he asked Christ, "So you are king?", Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world - to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice'," Jesus said ( John 18: 37 ). Many today would rather listen to a government they elect than to God's Church, God's prophets.

Unlike other rulers God does not compel anyone to do anything. We choose and we reap the consequences of our choices. God respects our freedom or else we would cease to exist. He could do that. "To hell with it", some would say, may be closer to the truth then they realize. Still God's "will be done on earth" is the same as God's will be done "in heaven" because there is no external force God requires for his will to 'be done.' Only volunteers gain heaven. His will on earth as it is in heaven continues with or without our cooperation. So when Jesus continuously speaks about the "kingdom of heaven" is like "a sower who went out to sow" where "an enemy" may also sow weeds, and the seed may be as small as a "mustard seed" and possibly grow into "the largest of plants" or be like "yeast" which mixed with flour changes into bread - it can only happen when we do the work of heaven on earth. The kingdom of heaven can only be won - when we actually search for the treasure or the pearl of great value or cast a net into the sea for good not bad fish. If we do not search for the lost sheep or a lost coin we will eventually lose all of them including a prodical son or daughter if we do not endure the hurt and forgive others and save ourselves unless we work at it. The fruit of our work decides our reward because Jesus said our "kingdom is not of this world". Which world are we exactly investing in and striving for?

Yes, Christ crucified is king but not of this world. He is king of heaven and a new world to come which he tried to prepare his disciples and us for on the evening before his crucifixion and death:

"Take courage; I have conquered the world [he said] . . . . The hour had come [he prayed to the Father] : glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you." [Then Jesus added ] "I gloried you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do . . . and now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name . . . that they may be one, as we are one . . . . As y0u have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. ( John 17: 6-18 ).

Do we know the work Christ the King has sent us to do, each of us, in this world? He is a king who will not compel us to follow him unlike others in this world who compel us for their interests, often to do what is futile or wrong. Doing freely his work in this world is our only passport to God's world and none other.