November 20, 2022: What Kind of King is This?

palm crosses

Reign of Christ Sunday

What Kind of King Is This?

The gospels give us many images of the Friday of Jesus’ execution. Most of the narratives depict scenes of conflict, derision, and hatred. As we read them today, we can see the great misunderstanding those people had of the kind of king Jesus was.

In Luke’s Gospel the scene at Calvary is full of vindictiveness and cruelty. In this one day Jesus loses his freedom, his health, his community, and his life. He is ridiculed by the leaders of his faith and mocked by the soldiers and one criminal being crucified with him: “Save yourself and us!”

The one person in this narrative who has faith in Jesus is the other man being crucified with him. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

The messages of the day?
• Pilate’s sign at the top of the cross: “King of the Jews”
• scoffers: “If you are the King, the Christ, save yourself and prove it, then we will believe”
• the unnamed criminal: “Jesus, remember me”

What king can give someone a place in paradise today? Not the kind of king those gathered in Jerusalem had in mind. God’s view is so much broader than the view of these people. God’s intention is to fix the problem that constantly divides us from God—our inability to partner with God. This power is beyond any earthly power. It is the kind of sovereignty that makes Paradise available to all of us.

This narrative is an invitation to cross over the barrier with Jesus, the barrier that holds us back from following our Lord. I hope we can say, “Jesus, remember me,” and believe he will . . . and hear Jesus reply to us, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Carol Foltz, pastor, Moravian Moravian Church
Oak Ridge, North Carolina