Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
At church on Sunday, people received a second symbol of Lent to add to their small wooden cross. They received a small purple robe to put around the cross.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we discover early on that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came as the King of the Jews. When the magi are looking for Jesus after his birth, the magi inquire where the King of the Jews was to be born. In his death, a sign is hung above his head on the cross, which labels him as the King of the Jews.
Many Jewish people just could not recognize Jesus as their King. Nothing of his life resembled the traditional roles of a King. Jesus was born in a smelly barn, not a royal palace. His earthly father was a simple carpenter, not a man presiding on a throne. He never owned his home and certainly never lived in a fancy palace. So why should have the Jews, who expected their Messiah to be a descendant of King’s David family to not live like King David?
Often, God does things upside down. This King would model being a king for everyone and not just certain people. This King would open-up God’s kingdom for all people. This King would not rule with power but with mercy and grace.
As the purple robe resides on the cross, may it be a reminder of the robe placed on Jesus’ shoulders by the mocking soldiers. May it remind us that Jesus wants to be the King of your life. He doesn’t want to be a King in name only, but a King whose simple commands to love God and love our neighbors are ones we aspire to follow. He is a King we can trust. He is a King who yearns for our praise. He’s a King we should not mistake because he’s simply not the kind of King we expect.
O King of the Jews, forgive me when I have not recognized you as the King of my life and mocked you instead. Overlook the times when I yearned for an earthly King rather than a heavenly King. May a simple purple robe renew within me the desire to make you King of my life. Amen.
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