“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and Kingof kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”Revelation 17:14
I noticed the above billboard a few weeks ago. They have been popping up around the Dallas area, and are sponsored by Babe’s, a ridiculously wonderful chicken restaurant in town.
I saw the sign only a few days before the presidential election, which made the message on the board sound subversive: “Behold, the king of kings.” I think we forget just how radical this message really is. If we lived in a repressive political environment, such a sign would not be allowed in public.
Maybe we don’t really understand the significance of the phrase, “king of kings.” When we hear it, we interpret it as a kind of spiritual title for Christ. We think of it as an inner reality, and say to ourselves, “Oh yes, Jesus rules in my heart.” Or we think of it as something that will happen in the distant future, and say, “Oh, I believe that Jesus will come back some day and rule the world.”
But when we say, “Jesus is Lord” we are really making a political statement. We are pledging our allegiance to an authority that extends beyond a geopolitical region. We are saying that we believe there is a power above and beyond any power on earth.
This is the kind of Jesus we believe in — a king who is better than all other kinds of kings. And this king is better than others because he loves. He does not exercise his authority by wielding a sword; he shows his strength by taking the violence of the world upon himself, bearing it in his own frail body, and overcoming it.
This force of love is stronger and better than any other force, spiritual or physical.
The radical idea that “Jesus is king of kings” means simply that love rules. The story of Jesus teaches us that, in the end, no matter what happens, love has the last word and will conquer. If we want to follow this Jesus, we must meet physical force with love, military might with outstretched arms, hatred with kindness.
Prayer: God, give me the courage to love. I know that this is a dangerous idea in the world today, but it is the only thing that will endure. Amen.