“ALL HAIL KING JESUS” we would jubilantly sing out in our 2500-person Baptist auditorium. If it was a good Sunday, I could find the song in a hymnal and sing off the tenor line – yes, I was that guy. It felt odd to sing about King Jesus, because to me, He was just Jesus. “King” was a titled reserved for Christmas. We would read passages like Isaiah 9 and mom would inevitably play some rousing version of Handel’s Messiah where the baritones would drop a King….of….Kings and the sopranos would screech out Forrreva….and….Evah.
But, to me, Jesus was never really King. Jesus was on a flannel graph. Jesus was riding on a donkey, or doing miracles. Jesus was telling stories that people didn’t understand, or peeving off the Pharisees. He was doing crazy things, like walking on water, or casting demons into pigs, or encouraging people to eat his flesh and drink His blood. Of everything that He was, He wasn’t really King. At least we didn’t talk about Him in this way.
The problem is that the Bible is chock full of this King and Kingdom language. We Americans know little about the concept of King and Kingdom. We’ve always lived in a world where the voter is King; well, at least that’s what they tell us. We don’t have Kings in America, so understanding the enormous authority that a King has is foreign to our ears.
Now, to be a King on earth is a pretty big deal. It comes with a lot of authority and power. What I’ve learned from the movies is: you can order that anyone be murdered whenever you want; people bow down in adoration at your feet. When you enter a room, everything stops and everyone focuses on you the moment those famous words are uttered “ALL HAIL KING ______________.” People obey your every command, they submit to your power and your authority over their own. Within a Kingdom, nothing is out of the King’s reach.
I’m not certain why we rarely spoke Jesus being King. I firmly believe that if we could understand the Kingship of Jesus, then our Christian outlook would radically change.
We always talk about salvation as if it is a transition of location. I was “going to hell” and now I’m “going to heaven.” In all reality, conversion is a transition of power. When we come to Christ there is a collision of Kingdoms. Before Christ ever enters into our little Kingdom, we are the King. We do whatever we want. We seek our own good, our own pleasure, and our own satisfaction. We expect everyone else to do as we say, think as we want them to, and submit to us. We fatten ourselves on a Kingly banquet of our own wretched desire, unconcerned with the virulent effects of our narcissism, until one day, God’s Kingdom violently attacks ours.
We are left crushed, licking our wounds and our Kingdom is leveled. However, it’s not because God’s Kingdom took over ours, but because we realize that we were a microscopic King in a Kingdom of one – me. The moment of conversion takes place when we lay down our self-made crown at the feet of King Jesus, and put ourselves at His mercy and under His authority. We are relieved to find out that, instead of the sword He offers us His bloodstained hand that was pierced for our reckless, debaucherous attempt at being King.
The life of the Christian is a daily repetition of this act, of taking off the crown and laying it at the feet of Jesus and living your life within the parameters of His Kingdom. The great news is that this King has all of the power that you need to obey His decree and fulfill His mission.
Let the King be King. Lay down your sword and your crown and hail King Jesus!