What is (or should be) a king? Let’s examine the description of true royalty supplied by C S Lewis in the penultimate volume of The Chronicles of Narnia—The Magician’s Nephew.
After a series of bizarre adventures that led to bringing the evil Queen Jadis of Charn (aka, the White Witch) to newly-created Narnia, a cab-driver accidentally involved in the events (along with his wife) hear Aslan tell them: “My children…you are to be the first King and Queen of Narnia.” They are dumbfounded, but Aslan questions them about His ideas of kingship:
“…can you use a spade and a plow and raise food out of the earth? Can you treat these creatures kindly and fairly, remembering that they are… Talking Beasts and free subjects? And would you bring up your children and grandchildren to do the same? And you wouldn’t have favorites either among your own children or among the other creatures or let any hold another under or use it hardly? And if enemies come…and there was war, would you be the first in the charge and the last in the retreat? Then you will have done all that a King should do.” How might we apply all this to Jesus?
It seems Jesus knew all about basic hard work—a carpenter Himself, familiar with hard work, He knew about husbandry as shown by His parables (mustard seed, setting a hand to the plow, weeds and wheat, sower and seed, etc). Hands-on is the regal style of Jesus.
Treating others kindly and fairly is the essence of Jesus’ mission: to seek and save what was lost: a sheep, a coin, a son, a tax collector, a woman caught in adultery, a leper, a blind man; those who mourn, who long for justice, who are meek, peace-makers, single-hearted. “I have come that they might have life, and have it in abundance (John 10:10).
Jesus opposed using others hardly—think of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, or the “call” of Zacchaeus, the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan woman at the well. Eucharistic Prayer #4 is eloquent here: “For you came in mercy to the aid of all, that those who seek might find you.”
In the context of war, there is no greater example than Jesus’ single-combat with the Enemy which led to the Cross and the Enemy’s seeming victory, but which in fact was the ultimate overthrow of the kingdom of death. Jesus was indeed the first in the charge, and there was no need for retreat! The gates of hell are broken, the gates of heaven thrown open. This Jesus is indeed the King of kings, the Lord of lords. His is the Kingdom (as we say in the Creed) that has no end. This is the Kingdom not of this world but of the eternal and ultimate world of fullness of life. Let me invert Milton’s statement from Paradise Lost: “Better to serve in heaven than to reign in hell.” This is our King: noble, gracious, merciful, just, good.
Jesus Christ reigns as King while sorting out the sheep and goats; He reigns as King condemned by Pilate; He reigns as King while granting forgiveness to the repentant criminal at Calvary. His is a royal dignity showing mercy and rewarding those who have shown mercy.
Christ is our King! Let all rejoice—brothers and sisters, with one voice, let the world know He is OUR choice—ALLELUIA!