From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Seven, Day Three
The world has never seen a king like Christ, a ruler mightier than any earthly sovereign and more powerful than the unseen powers of the universe. Though he entered the world humbly, as an infant born in Bethlehem, Magi from the east still recognized him as the newborn king. Though his reign unfolds in hidden ways, he has promised to come again, at which time he will reveal himself unambiguously as "King of kings and Lord of lords." When you pray to Jesus, the King of kings, call to mind his mastery not only over human beings but over nature, disease, and death itself.
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. Revelation 19:16
Praying the Name
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Matthew 27:27 - 37
Reflect On: Matthew 27:27 - 37.
Praise God: For overcoming evil with good.
Offer Thanks: For the hope that Christ imparts to us.
Confess: Your fear of suffering.
Ask God: To help you put sin to death by the power of his Spirit.
Many churches, both Catholic and Protestant, celebrate the feast of Christ the King, a day originally set aside by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to counter the rising threat of Communism and Fascism. In spite of two world wars and a cold war that lasted for decades, we find that peace on earth still eludes us. Iraq is in the throes of a bloody insurgency. The Democratic Republic of Congo is embroiled in a conflict that has already killed six million people.
The Israeli - Palestinian conflict continues unabated. Nuclear weapons proliferate. And terrorist violence continues ad naseum. Little wonder the future of our world seems at risk.
What are we to do in the face of such a future? Let it advance unhindered or fight it with every weapon in hand? Though it may at times be necessary for nations and peoples to take up arms to defend themselves, we must always remember that evil can never be defeated by evil. Retaliation will never win the peace. It will only produce more hatred and violence. Justice is worth fighting for; vengeance is not.
As Christians we must also remember what our Lord said to his disciples on the verge of his arrest. He told them to take heart because he had overcome the world! But how could they take heart when they saw him in chains? How could they believe he had overcome the world when he appeared so weak? No wonder they fled. They couldn't understand until after the resurrection that Jesus was intentionally reversing the usual formula whereby the strong dominate the weak. The strongest man who ever lived was allowing his body to be forced onto a cross, to suffer the violence of the crucifixion in order to defeat the world's evil.
As followers of Christ the King, we too must suffer a kind of necessary violence, a violence directed against our sin and against the sinful instincts of our fallen nature that make us want to repay hatred with hatred. Instead, we must allow Christ to overthrow our selfishness so that he can ascend the throne of our hearts. When he reigns there, he enables us to reproduce the pattern of his life, even to the extreme of loving our enemies. As the apostle Paul says:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17 - 21
No matter how brutal the world may become, we must resist the temptation to fight evil with evil. We are called instead to forcefully advance Christ's kingdom by overcoming evil with good, hatred with love. Let us pray to have Christ's mind about the various conflicts that beset our world, asking Jesus to impart his wisdom to leaders of nations and peoples.
Let us commit ourselves to loving others by actively working on behalf of the world's poor, praying for the grace to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.