For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

2 Peter 1: 16-18

We live in a time in world history where there is a striking absence of truly authoritative leadership. We are surrounded by people that wield power and that hold out their wisdom as if it were of supreme value, but the test of truth calls the lie in all of these claims. The voices that demand our loyalty and that attempt to impose their wills upon our nations are speaking out of the shallow depths of their own human reason as they too frequently make demands that are not in any way related to God’s Word of truth and life. This sort of worldly authority is, in fact, fueled by arrogance, and it draws far too many people into its enticing wasp trap of Spirit quenching death.

Peter was present when the one and the only, the singular, Lord God of the Universe proclaimed that Jesus was truly His Son. So, at that time, God was also proclaiming the conveyance of authority to rule over all of the earth as its sole rightful King. Jesus retains the right to pronounce judgement upon all that transpires in our world, and through His Spirit, He also provides all of the wisdom and counsel that we need in order to live as godly people. That is, the Spirit guides us into thinking and acting in a manner that will please God and that will bring the Kingdom of God into view in our world. When we are following Christ justice, mercy, peacemaking, and love for all people prevail. As people in positions of authority submit to Christ, they can do nothing other than promote these same well-articulated Godly characteristics.

As God’s character and nature are seldom seen in the words and the actions of many of our world’s leaders, one must surely question whether these people are actually submitted to Christ. For the vast majority of us, those who elect leaders and whose voice they should desire to hear, we should be questioning the sorts of opinions that we express to our elected rulers as we should also carefully consider the Christ-likeness of those for whom we vote. For, if Christ was truly proclaimed to be King and was so granted the authority to rule over this world, as attested to by Peter, then it is His heart-felt proclamation of grace and love for our neighbors that must prevail in the outworking of all of our earthly governance. There is no authority on earth that is superior to Jesus, and there is no rule of law that exceeds the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

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Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne,

   steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Psalm 89: 14

What a strange way to crown a king. The party atmosphere that preceded the coronation itself has been replaced by the angry shouts of a lynch mob. The joyous gathering of family and friends that culminates in the Passover meal has turned somber with the foreboding shadow of betrayal hanging in the room. The night itself is filled with prayer, but these are not the hopeful expressions of a dream of a future of freedom and peace, but instead, they are the anguished cries of the teacher as He faces the torture ahead with absent friends and the sure knowledge of that necessary abandonment by the Father, too. In this ridiculous and scandalous ceremony, Jesus stands singularly suitable to obtain this crown and to sit upon the only righteous and just throne that has or will ever exist in this world.

If these fundamental characteristics that are the expression of the rule of a true king are to be found among us, then they must come from their source, and this is God, Himself. Outside of God’s touch and the provision of His grace, there exist only shadows of what is right and just in our world. There are times when people may attempt to act in such a way, and these moments of peace tend to last for short periods of time, but in the end, the powers of evil that attempt to control all of this place will gain some portion of control, and their chaos will return to cause those peaceful systems of rule to topple over. As people attempt to grasp onto those crumbling icons of goodness and mercy, we are usually left with nothing other than shards of broken stones held tenuously in our fingers. Yet, when we hold onto the mystically tangible presence of Christ in our lives, we find that our hands are being held in the sure grip of the Eternal King.

This is a King who loves each of us with a passion so intense and a love so lasting that He was willing to endure all of the agony and the anguish of that awful coronation in order to establish and perfect God’s plan for redemption for any of us who will accept Him and for the entirety of creation as well. Here we have King Jesus upon His rightful throne of grace, mercy, peace, righteousness, and unfailing love where He pours out God’s true and eternal justice upon this needy world. That bloody crown that was provided by humanity three days prior has been replaced by an unperishable one formed out of the glory of heaven. The wounds in the flesh are still visible, but now rather than bringing about a reminder of pain and death, they provide a soothing touch of healing to anyone who turns to Christ, even to those of us who have participated in placing those painful thorns on His sinless head. Today Christ sits upon His victor’s throne, the blazing light of righteousness surrounds His presence while His voice calls out to all people to come to Him and be healed of all that is hurt, damaged, and broken in our bodies, hearts and minds.  

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.

Acts 17: 6, 7

 

What a charge to have brought against you! Condemned for “turning the world upside down”. In more modern terms, they are charged with shaking up the system or with challenging the way that people in power are ruling and the decisions that they are making. So, the people of this town, Thessalonica, want to stand Paul and other followers of Jesus before the magistrates and have their seditious ways dealt with firmly and finally. You see, these Christians are trouble makers. They don’t act like the rest of the people. They proclaim allegiance to a different king. These men and women follow Jesus.

 

Their loyalty to Jesus is more than just an outward expression of submission to power and to enforced rule. The Romans who rule the land can never leave their swords behind, and their soldiers are quick to defend the rights that Caesar, their king, has claimed over the lives of the inhabitants of all lands where they are in power. Jesus is different. He commands that His followers lay down their swords, set aside dominance in humble submission to God, and seek to love the very people who oppose them. In this Christ-centric culture the strong give up their possessions and their position in order to care for the weak and the impoverished. They even do this to take care of the needs of people in far away lands. This sort of self-sacrificing and anti-consumerist life makes no sense. It was as troubling and anti-culture then as it is now.

 

It seems to me that our world is at least as worthy of being turned over as was the one that Paul lived in. There is much that can be done by each of us who know Christ to stand in opposition to the direction that our world is going. We can and should speak up and out for what is true, righteous, and holy. In doing this we need to continually seek God and be committed to listening to His voice as He directs us. Although we can and should care about the course that our nations and their leaders are following, we must also realize that we serve a different and a greater king than any national ruler. We also live in a far greater kingdom than any country can ever become. Our primary loyalty and our principle focus needs to be concentrated on knowing God. We do this by constant prayer, study and submission to His Word, and committed response to following Christ regardless of the cost. Perhaps then, we too can be accused of “turning the world upside down.”

 

 

 

 

Then Pilot said to Him, “So you are a 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.”

John 18: 37

 

If you are a follower of Christ, you can expect to be questioned. In fact, I think that He expects for us to draw attention and to receive many inquiries into what we understand to be truth. If this is the case, then we are showing the world that there is something different about what we believe and in the way that we live out those beliefs. There is no doubt that this was how Jesus lived, for it is what has brought Him to the point in His incarnation where the servants of the world are fully focused on their futile attempt to end His influence. They are seeking to silence His voice thus muting the truth that so sternly confronts their sinful departure from God’s clearly stated way. Yet, despite their best efforts, they have no idea what it is that they are actually doing.

 

In the courtyard of the High Priest’s house and at the palace of the Roman Governor, the people are conducting a coronation ceremony. That roughly crafted crown of cutting and piercing thorns is in fact the regal headgear of the only authentic ruler in the world. This was true on that day, and it will remain so for all of time. Even the blows, the scourging, and the other forms of abuse that were poured out onto Jesus were an essential part of the ceremony. Evil does not go out without a fight. The ways of man are tenacious but doomed. So, Pilot reluctantly and unwittingly recognizes the King and follows that act of recognition up with an equally unintended act of supreme worship that is played out in the agony of crucifixion and that culminates in glory of the risen King.

 

Thus, we come to our times and our lives. The world still asks after Pilot, “What is truth?” People continue to doubt and to question; they seek and they reject the living Word. Still, others are touched by the Spirit of Truth and yield their lives to His Christ. We are called upon by our lord to live in submission and in service to our King. Everything that we do and each aspect of that process of living is under His authority. After Jesus, there is no longer any separation of the sacred and the secular, and we can not follow Christ on the one hand and live under humanity’s rules on the other. When there is a divergence between those rules, we must follow Christ. So, we should be ready to be questioned, and we must be prepared to answer with the truth that is found only in Jesus Christ the reigning King.