In about two months Donald Trump will ascend to Capitol Hill and there he will be sworn in as the president of the United States of America. Trump aside, this is what happens every four years: a man ascends the Hill only to descend from it the most powerful man in the free world, or so we are told.
In the midst of the politically volatile time wherein many are afraid and many are anxious for a myriad of reasons we celebrate Christ the King Sunday this weekend. At least for me, this year the Kingship of Jesus seems to be a familiar theme with all that has gone on in the last week or so. I’ve read Facebook statuses and Tweets from pastors reminding people that no matter what happens or has happened Jesus is King. I found the said statuses and Tweets to be a bit off-putting if only for the reason that they more often came from white men such as myself who hold positions of power and influence in their communities.
So, then, what about Christ the King?
Many believe that Mark’s crucifixion scene is a parody of the main coronation and celebration of the Roman Empire’s new emperor. At the beginning of this ceremony the soon to be emperor would be surrounded by soldiers, clothed in a purple robe and have a laurel wreath placed on his head. These same soldiers would then loudly proclaim him as Lord while bowing down before him.
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
After doing this the soldiers would lead the emperor on a procession through the streets of Rome to the highest hill in the city. This procession was followed by a slave carrying an axe and a bull that would be sacrificed.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).
When they reached their destination (the top of the hill) there they would sacrifice the bull. What’s more, his second and third in command would come to his right and left side as he officially took the emperor’s throne. This would then be followed by the cheers of the crowds as their eyes were now set upon their new emperor. Of course, this would then be followed by some type of sign from the gods that showed their approval.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
Notice the eerie parallels. The contrast between worldly kingship and godly kingship. Jesus’ throne would not be found on the highest hill in Rome nor at the top of Capitol Hill. Not at the center of power. Instead it would be found on an ugly hill that looked like a skull, near a garbage dump, outside of the great holy city of Jerusalem.
Behold! Here is our King!
Descending to Ascend.