Daily Devotion 25 November 2020
John 19: 17-20, 23 ‘Christ the King’
17 He went out, carrying his cross, and came to “The Place of the Skull,” as it is called. (In Hebrew it is called “Golgotha.”) 18 There they crucified him; and they also crucified two other men, one on each side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate wrote a notice and had it put on the cross. “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” is what he wrote 23 After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier. They also took the robe, which was made of one piece of woven cloth without any seams in it.
Many years ago in Sweden, an American soldier was travelling on a bus, and got into conversation with the man sitting next to him. “America is the most democratic country in the world,” boasted the American, proudly (this was a long time ago!). “Just any ordinary citizen can go to the White House to see the President, and talk to him.” The stranger sitting next to him smiled as he got up from his seat. “That’s nothing,” he replied, “In Sweden, the King travels on the same bus as his people.” And as he alighted from the bus, the other passengers told the American, “That was our King you were sitting next to!” A king in an unexpectedly humble place.
Sunday just gone was the Sunday before Advent, and celebrated by the Church as the Feast of Christ the King. But what a curious picture of a king we have in our scriptures. A condemned, half-naked man, dying a traitor’s death. His crown is made not of gold and jewels, but of painful thorns. His throne is a rough wooden cross; and instead of a coat of arms, above his head is nailed the judgement for his death sentence.
Despite all these strange paradoxes, this is our King – a King who doesn’t remove us from the mess of our lives, but stays with us and teaches us how to be human.
When Pilate confronted him, Jesus didn’t deny that he was a king, but asserted that his kingdom was not of this world. So what sort of a kingdom is it over which Christ the King reigns? It’s a kingdom which turns worldly values upside down, where the King is a servant, where power lies in weakness, and victory in seeming failure. It’s a kingdom where the King leaves behind his power and glory, and sits beside us – on the bus, as it were – sharing the whole of life with us. It’s a kingdom that breaks through every time we do a Christ-like act, every time we extend God’s love to others.
On Sunday Advent starts, the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ the King. We have the privilege, the honour, the joy, of being invited to be part of his kingdom. We can help that kingdom to grow by our commitment to Jesus, by the way we live. It’s God’s plan that we should enter into this kingdom but he gives us a choice. In an extraordinary reversal of power, God leaves us to make the decision. He gives us our freedom and won’t compel anyone.
For our prayer today I use the well-known Anglican collect for the last Sunday of the church’s year, which has also become a reminder to make your Christmas pudding!
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
Image freely available online.
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