"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come." (Mt 6:9-19)
Magi Seek Israel's King
At the birth of Christ astrologers, who were probably from the sacred cast of the Medes who practiced astrology and were skilled in the interpretation of dreams, saw a particular star as a sign that a king of the Jews was born. They were most likely familiar with the messianic prophecies of the Jews but to interpret a particular star as a sign from heaven implies divine revelation or as St. Leo in sermon 36 on the epiphany states, " It is undoubtedly the brightness of the Divine grace that is at work: and whatever of new light illumines the darkness of their hearts, comes from the rays of the same star...." King Herod himself sees this child as a challenge to his kingly power and seeks to kill him. He believed that child was destined to be truly a king.
What kind of King was Christ going to become?
After receiving the baptism of John, Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit. There he fasted for forty days and forty nights and was tempted by the devil. In one of these temptations, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory and said to him,
"All of these I shall give to you, if you prostrate yourself and worship me." "Jesus said to him, 'Get away. Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve'". (Mt 4:8-9)
As a human being Jesus had to make a choice. Was he going to be a king of this world with political power and an army or a King who would lead by faith, hope and love? Later Jesus was to tell Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world because, if it were, his followers would have fought to prevent his capture by the Jews. As a matter of fact Peter did try to prevent his capture in the garden by cutting off with his sword the right ear of Marchus, the High Priest's slave. But Jesus told Peter to put away the sword for those who live by the sword will die by the sword.
Christ is Proclaimed the Messiah-king by the People
Palm branches were used by the Romans as a sign of victory or triumph in athletic games and victory in war. The Jews carried palm branches on festive occasions.
Many people were in Jerusalem for the Passover at this time and they were wondering if Jesus was coming for the feast since the chief priests were looking to arrest him. When they heard that Jesus was coming, a great crowd went out to meet him waving palm branches and crying cried out,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
the king of Israel." (Jn 12:13)
No doubt, many of them expected Jesus to establish an ideal kingdom in Israel, but with the death of Jesus, many turned away from him not realizing that his kingdom was to be a spiritual kingdom.Christ's Claim to be a King
Jesus was brought for trial before Pilate who asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered, 'You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.'" (Jn 18:33, 37)
At this point Pilate wanted to know what truth was. Jesus does not give him an answer but the answer is obvious. Truth is the conformity of the human mind with the order of things God has established. And this order means that Jesus is the final truth of all the religious longings of mankind because he is the Son of God who came to lead us into the kingdom of his Father by the forgiveness of sins. To belong to the truth means to believe in Christ.
After this, Pilate handed Jesus to his soldiers who crowned Jesus with a crown of thorns and place a reed in his hands so as to make fun of him as if to say, "Does he really think he is a king?" What a fool he is!
And Pilate wrote above the Cross in Hebrew, Greek and Latin,
|Jesus the Nazorean,
the King of the Jews.
But, what precisely do we mean when we say that Jesus is King?
Although the the Son of God was the focal point of creation from the beginning, the full realization of his kingship becomes a reality only after the Resurrection. It is precisely as God-Man that Christ is king of all creation because by his death on the cross and Life in the power of the Spirit he reconciled all things with God the Father. (Phil 2:8-11) J. Huby has well written;
"If anyone could have an instantaneous vision of the whole universe,
past, present and future,
he would see all things ontologically depending from Christ,
and wholly intelligible only through him."
(X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 116)
Clash of Kingdoms