Peace through superior firepower.
That’s how a lot of people understand kingdoms and governments. Peace is maintained through superior power, might, and force. Simply knowing the threat exists can keep things in check.
That’s what the Israelites wanted.
1 Samuel 8, the people ask for a king. Despite the warnings of Samuel, they say, “now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 1 Samuel 8.5b So they picked Saul because he was, “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.”1 Samuel 9.2b.
Kings have to be big…and good looking.
Superhero movies use this same idea. Powerful bad guys, even more powerful good guys. Think “The Avengers” franchise or any other superhero television show or movie.
In short, we have expectations of our kings and heroes. But, there’s a problem with our heroes and kings. To quote Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) in the “Dark Knight” “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
On Palm Sunday, Jesus is hailed as king. They shout his praises and welcome him into Jerusalem to save them from the oppression of Rome. They had high hopes for their king.
Almost as quickly as he is hailed with shouts of “Hosanna!” he is ridiculed with shouts to “Crucify him!”
I’m pretty sure were some unmet expectations of Jesus the king. They wanted a “Peace through superior firepower” king.
Jesus understood his kingdom differently. He said:
“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26.53 and, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18.36
What I think Jesus should be as King is often at odds with how Jesus is going to be king. Just look at Revelation. 5.5-6a says, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Yes! A real king! Powerful, mighty, strong, and courageous. That’s want I want. I want my king to look like Aslan from “The Chronicles of Narnia.” This is real superhero stuff.
Then he looks and sees, “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.” Talk about unmet expectations. Jesus is unlike any king in any time.
People get upset when their expectations are not met. William Congreve said it this way, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” Maybe we could say, “like an Israelite scorned.”
For this Easter, I’ve been thinking about how I understand Jesus and what I expect. Am I expecting Jesus to align and act like a president and leader of a country, like every other world leader?
Am I expecting God’s kingdom to come through superior firepower or economic policy?
What if Jesus were coming back for the first time? How would I receive him? What would my reaction be to the way he was going to lead?
Would I hail him as king and then want him killed?
What are my expectations of Jesus as King?
What are your expectations of Jesus as King?
What needs to change?