Benny Nalkara, CMI
Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be a king. He was called so by Pontius Pilate before His crucifixion and death. During the trials Pilate describes Jesus as the king of Jews. He asked Him at face: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33). Since Jesus said that His kingship is not of this world, Pilate repeated the question: “So you are a king?” (Jn 18:37). He also asked the Jews: “But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:39). Presenting Jesus after having scourged Him, Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” Then he asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?”(Jn 18:33). After crucifying Jesus along with two thieves, Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Against a suggestion of the chief priests that the writing should be changed as “This man said, I am King of the Jews,” Pilate took a firm position. He was in a way giving witness to the truth that He never claimed to be a king, but the world recognized it and proclaimed it.
At the time of the very birth of Jesus is introduces as the king, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” (Mt 2:2). In John 1:49, a follower addresses Jesus as “the king of Israel.” The First Letter to Timothy (6:14–15) explicitly applies the phrase of “king of kings and lord of lords” taken from the Pentateuch (Deut 10:17) to Jesus Christ. The book of Revelation also presents Jesus as “the Lord of lords and the King of kings” (Rev 17:14; 19:16). How do we understand the kingship of Jesus Christ? Human standards would fail to comprehend this unique kingship of Jesus. He never used any weapons to conquer. He never blew the trumpet to start a war and to initiate the bloodshed. He shed His blood for everyone. His crown was made up of thorns and His sceptre was a reed. His throne was the cross. He didn’t author any book or raise His own statues or hoardings. The Gospels present Him as the one who evaded Himself from the temptations and attempts to be made a king.
Jesus Christ, the King on the other hand gave a unique way of living. His greatest weapon was love that conquers hearts. Values like justice, mercy, peace, forgiveness, generosity etc were the core elements of His policy. To fulfil the will of God and to complete the plan of God was His blueprint of action. All-inclusiveness was the hallmark of His Kingdom. His Kingdom is totally at odds with any display of power. On the other hand service and care for other is the motto of His rule. Abuse of power had no role in His Kingdom.
Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom is not at all a worldly one. It has no barriers or boundaries. Where ever He can be is His Kingdom. The manger in Bethlehem, the carpenter’s house in Nazareth, the sea shores, mountains, shades of trees, the boats, the Prethorium of Pilate, the courtyard of Caiaphas… all became His Kingdom. His power as a King was never used to feather His own nest. It was never used to cause pain to others, but to help them to alleviate pain. It was never manipulated in manifold ways for self interest and glory.
As the King, Jesus Christ’s unique mission was to give witness to the truth. That commitment to the truth was the cause of His suffering and death. Commitment to the truth reveals the cost of discipleship. The mutuality of the inner self and the language of a person who is committed to truth is distinct for the moral uprightness but he/she is always is in danger of death. Christ the king was a person who was ready to tell the truth even the dangerous one. Fear or favour never prevented Him from the royal mission of witnessing to the truth. Diplomatic truth or cosmetic truth is never the method of this mission. Those who fail to abide by the rules of His unique kingdom and fear to continue His mission of witnessing to the truth will insist on repeating the slogan: “We have no king but Caesar.”