In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.’ ….
Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’
Titles of Jesus – King of the Jews
So much to ponder: early in the life of Jesus some strange foreign astrologers (whose trade has no credence today but was taken seriously by some people then) asked Herod, the Roman imposed King, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews.”
At the end of his life the Roman execution squad mocked Jesus, “Hail, King of the Jews” using the form (but not the content) of the salutation of the Emperor; Pilate arranged that Jesus died with the label, “King of the Jews.” This was in fact the charge on which he was condemned, implying treason against the Emperor.
The description given to him as an infant by foreigners, and the title used by foreigners in mockery as they condemned and killed him: King of the Jews. But as the prologue to John’s Gospel puts it, “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” Whatever the Magi really expected, whatever Pilate and his soldiers really meant, it was they and not his own people who hailed Jesus as King.
In so many ways this was a feature of his ministry; Jesus was recognised and accepted by those whom the respectable establishment despised and rejected – women, foreigners, the sick and those whose work rendered them unclean.
How hard it is for us, with our churches perceived as part of respectable society, to make Jesus known to the kind of people who responded to him so positively during his earthly ministry. So many in Britain are fascinated by our royal family but are less interested in the true King. As we seek to proclaim Jesus as the Saviour of all, may more and more accept his sovereignty in our lives.
Jesus, our true King, may we accept you as the sovereign power for our lives; May our lives show your power working in and through us; May our work, witness and worship lead others to turn to you as their Saviour and King. Amen
The Rev’d Julian Macor is a retired minister and member of Verwood URC