Today is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, where we both mark the end of the liturgical year and celebrate Jesus’ lordship over all earthly powers and authorities. On this day we remember to whom we owe our true allegiance, and that He whom we acknowledge as King is the Lord of all time (indeed, of eternity as well).
How though is Christ our King and Lord? Earthly rulers of all times and places have exercised and displayed their authority over their subjects by acts of power and proclamations of their own greatness. Not so with Jesus Christ, who, though co-equal in substance and honour with the Father, ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant’ (Philippians 2:6-7) and ‘being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ (ibid, v.8).
This is the way Christ is King; this is how He exercises and displays his authority – in humility; in service; in a sacrificial love so great that He was willing to suffer the ignominy and pain of crucifixion for our sakes. In the First World War, Rev. Edward Shillito, an English Free Church minister, wrote the poem Jesus of the Scars in an effort to relate how Christianity could still be good news to those confronted with the horrors of the trenches. It still serves as a reminder today of what sort of a God we have to do with in Jesus Christ – one who truly is ‘God with us’ in even the darkest moments. This is how Christ is King:
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds speak;
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.