Jesus ushers in a different kind of reign than the world has seen before. He doesn’t rely on flashy entourages but leads a band of fishermen. He doesn’t use powerful weapons but multiplies loaves of bread. He doesn’t operate through threats of punishment but forgives those who persecute him. All these differences prompt some to ask the question, Who is this man? Who is this king who acts so counter to what we know of this world?
Paul tells us in soaring and exalted language about the true nature of this unusual king. Jesus has no need for big weapons or threats or stashes of money, for as the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” he has a deeper, truer source of power than any worldly ruler. Paul says that everything, whether “thrones or dominions or rulers or powers,” has been created through him and for him, and therefore they are subject to him. Jesus has been the world’s true king from the very beginning of creation, and now through his resurrection he has become the “firstborn from the dead,” taking the lead in God’s new creation as well. In doing so he has made a way for us to find reconciliation and peace with God.
As we close out this cycle of the church calendar, I invite us to reflect on how Jesus has revealed himself as our king this past year. When have we especially felt the compassion of our shepherd? Where have we experienced God’s faithfulness in fulfilling divine promises? In what circumstances have we received Jesus’ forgiveness on a new level? May we learn to trust him as our true king in new ways during the year ahead.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being a different kind of king. May I open my life to your gracious rule so that I may know more of your compassion, your faithfulness, and your forgiveness. Amen.
Each of the passages for this week addresses the ends served by divine power. Jeremiah characterizes king- ship by wisdom, justice, and safety. The exercise of kingly power is on behalf of God’s people rather than against them. The read- ing from Colossians praises the cosmic dimensions of Christ whose exaltation is not an end in itself, for the task of Christ is one of reconciliation. The goal of Christ’s kingship moves to center stage in the passage from Luke. The bystanders and one of the criminals executed with Jesus know what it means to be a king, so they taunt Jesus with the demand that he use his power to save himself. For Jesus, however, a king is not one who saves himself but one who saves others.
• Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. What experiences do you recall of leaders in various arenas not being wise shepherds of the people and the people’s resources?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. The song of Zechariah is this-worldly and political. In what ways does the song encourage you to view the baby in the manger in a different light?
• Read Colossians 1:11-20. How has Jesus revealed himself as your king this past year?
• Read Luke 23:33-43. Jesus came as a different king, a dif- ferent kind of messiah than people expected. Recall a time when God’s response in a situation differed
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