My mother loved musicals and I grew up singing songs from The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins to while away the hours as we drove along in the car, long before modern in-car entertainment systems. Singing in the car was especially useful to ward off the effects of car sickness. Another family favourite musical was the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I”, based on a (1944) Margaret Landon novel, which was later made into a movie starring Yul Brynner in 1956. It was the story derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a British governess and school teacher employed by King Mongkut, King of Siam (now Thailand), to help modernise the country, in the early 1860’s. The plot centres on the relationship between Anna and the King, which is marked by both conflict and a love they could not admit.
Why am I talking about The King and I? Before the start of Advent (the 4 Sundays prior to Christmas) we have a Sunday where we remember the Jesus Christ is King. But what sort of King is Jesus, and how should we relate to him if we call him King. In the Old Testament God was originally the God and King, before the people asked for a human King, just like their neighbours. Being subjected to a King meant that the people were subservient to any of the King’s wishes. They had to pay the taxes; be in the army and obey any decree. The King often ruled by divine right and most people had no direct contact with the King or any way to influence the King’s decisions.
When Jesus entered our universe as a human being, Philippians 2:6-11 says that, although he was the King of Universe, Jesus humbled himself as a man and was obedient to death on a cross, and that in defeating sin and death, even though people may not wish to do it at this moment, a day will come when everyone, everywhere, from all times of history will bow the knee and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and King over everything. That day is coming fast and Revelations 19:16 reminds us that when Jesus comes back, he will come back in his full glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lord of Lords. The good news is that we are all given the opportunity to recognise Jesus’ Kingship over our life before the end.
But Jesus is not an earthly type of King who rules and dominates his constituency with his whims. His reign is characterised with humility, justice, mercy, compassion and love. He gives us the choice to follow, but what he offers is not a loss of freedom, but the freedom to be the person that God has always intended us to be. Jesus is the King, but what am I? More than a servant…a fellow heir of God’s inheritance to all who believe. Like the story of Anna and the King, my relationship with Jesus has its moments of conflict – but underneath those struggles, is God’s passionate love for us, a love that is not secretive, but that He declares loud and clear. How we respond to God’s love is foundational to acknowledging his Lordship over our lives….is Jesus your King?