Jesus might have been a more palatable earthly king if he bothered to act like one. Kings and queens, after all, need to make some compromises here and there. King David, for example, reconciles with the elders of Israel in Hebron after a long war of succession, showing some worldly prudence to begin his long reign.
Jesus, on the other hand, is utterly rejected by the elders; they “sneer” at him as he writhes in pain on the cross. The Roman soldiers, their bitter enemies, are even inspired to join in with them. Jesus’ execution ironically unites them, and “all things hold together” in the almost uniform mockery he receives, even from a fellow convict.
The lone outlier is the repentant criminal. Think of that. At the crucifixion, beyond a small group of ever-loyal women and one apostle, the only one who recognizes Jesus as savior is a criminal, most likely a murderer. In death as in life, the Kingship of Christ—what he called the Kingdom of God—is often overlooked, and very often mocked, by those with power.
This reality continues to this day. We can gild images of Jesus in gold, we can proclaim his Kingship from the pulpit. But until we see the face of our King in the least of our sisters and brothers—until we recognize the crucified Christ in the broken, abused, and suffering people in our family, our Church, and our world—we remain a long way from his Kingdom.
Reflection from the November 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.