If we look through the framework of the world to see Christ as a king, he will never fit into our framework of kingship. We learned about King Akbar during our school days. Let us just make a comparative study between King Akbar and Christ, The King, to know how Christ redefined our predetermined concept of a King. Akbar was born in the softness of a cradle at the Rajput Fortress of Umerkot in Sindh whereas Christ was born in the hardness of a manger. Akbar was the son of King Humayun and Queen Hamida Banu Begum. Christ was the son of a carpenter, Joseph and his wife, Mary. Akbar spent his childhood in a royal palace. Christ spent his childhood in a small hut. Akbar took up military expeditions/ campaigns to enlarge his kingdom. Christ never undertook a battle. A golden crown decorated the head of Akbar. The crown that decorated the head of Christ, The King, was made up of thorns. Akbar held a sceptre in his hand as a sign of royalty. The nail was the sceptre that Christ held in his hand as a symbol of his royal power. Akbar wore kingly dresses whereas Christ, The King, was naked on the cross. Akbar sat with ministers whereas Christ, The King, sat with the poor, sick, orphans and the powerless. Akbar had a royal throne to sit upon whereas the royal throne of Christ was made up of stones. We see Akbar only on horse, the symbol of pride, whereas we see Christ sitting on the donkey, the symbol of humility. Akbar had boundaries for his kingdom whereas there was no boundary for The Kingdom of Christ. The dead bodies of The Kings were buried in well-built tombs whereas the body of Christ, The King, was buried in a borrowed tomb. No King has ever died on the cross for the redemption of his subjects but Christ, The King, died on the chest of a cross to give salvation to his subjects. This is how Christ, The King redefined the Kingship.
Christ, The King rewrote our traditional conception that a King is one who conquers lands using military weapons. Kings conquered perishable lands using the military weapons whereas Christ, The King, conquered the imperishable hearts of the people using the weapons of love and mercy. That which is conquered with weapons of love exists forever and that which is conquered with military weapons will fade away under the curtains of time. That is why The Kingdom of Christ exists even after 2000 years whereas Akbar’s Mughal Dynasty exists only in the moth-eating dusty volumes of history. Subjects of Christ, The King, should wage war not to conquer lands where our body becomes dust but to conquer the hearts of our near and dear ones using the weapons of selfless love.
Christ, The King, reframed our understanding of a King by eschewing the comfortableness of a golden cradle in a castle by his nativity in a manger accepting the discomfort of coldness and hardness (Luke 2:7). Christ was the only king in the annals of history whose mother begged for a place to give him birth. So Christ knew the pains of homeless people and that is what prompted him to hint at the fact that blessed are those who make homes for the homeless. If we, the Subjects of Christ, The King, have the ardent desire to see him, look not on golden cradles but to the manger like grassy cradles of the poor. Christ, The King, hit at the heart of our thinking that a king is one who judges by undergoing a judgement himself. He underwent an unjust judgement in the hands of Pilate. There is no place for condemnation in the palace of Christ, The King. Saul, David and Solomon were kings who made judgements. We, the subjects of Christ, The King, have to find our King not in those who make judgments but in those who never judges.
Christ, The King, challenges our imagination that a king has to be in royal clothes by being naked on the cross. Clothing the unclothed is clothing the nakedness of the Christ, The King. We, the followers of Christ, The King, have to set out our journey to clothe our King who stands naked in the footpaths of poverty.
Christ, The King, sinks our knowledge of a king in the ocean of wisdom that king is the one who makes others carry cross by carrying cross on his shoulders. In the words of Isaiah the cross he carried was the cross of our sorrows and grief (Isaiah 53:4). An ideal king is one who bears cross on his shoulders for the betterment of his people. That is why our parents live as kings in our hearts. Let us bear our daily crosses and be worthy followers of Christ, The King.
Christ, The King brought out a paradigm shift by showing us the truth that a king is not the one who sheds the blood of others but one who sheds his blood for others. That blood of Christ, the Just King, left its signatures on the documents of the salvation of humanity. Let us take the visa to Christ’s kingdom by sweating blood for the salvation of our family and society. Christ, The King, makes us hold our breath by portraying the act of washing the feet of his followers in a ceremony whereas Kings made their followers to wash their feet before every ceremony. Actually, Christ, The King, was washing away the dust of sin from the feet and bodies of his followers. Washing away the dust of sin is affirming a seat near to Christ, The King. Christ, The King, threw away our idea of kings sitting on thrones to command by sitting on stones and boats to teach the messages of his kingdom of love. Turning to those missionaries who sit on the stones and teach messages of love is a turning to Christ, The King.
Was He a king? Pilate posed this question to Christ. “Are you The King? (John 18:33) Christ answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me? (John 18:34) Are we saying it on our own accord that Christ is The King? And he added, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants’ would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world. Pilate said to him, so you are a king. Christ answered, you say that I am a king” (John 18: 36- 37). Our King was oppressed, He was afflicted, and yet He opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7). In Christ’s kingdom the first will be last and the last first (Mathew 19:30). So let us try our best to be last, to be first in the imperishable kingdom of Christ, our eternal King.
Fr Joby Kochupurayil CST