One of my absolute favorite movies contains some dialogue about kings that I will clean up a bit for the sake of my readers. It goes a little something like this;
“Who’s that there?”
“I don’t know. He must be a king.”
“How do you know?”
“He hasn’t got *poo* all over him.”
Funny? Yes. Sad? A little bit. True, unfortunately – and almost always. There seems to be something about power that makes people less likely to get down into the junk of life and root around in it with other people. I guess when you can afford to pay people to do stuff you don’t want to, or when you have the power to make others do it for you, you learn to take advantage of that fact.
You’d assume that the same would be true, probably even more so, when one talks about a kingdom of a god. When you take stock of the “god” landscape, you can see this is most often the case. Zeus doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, just spends his time throwing lightning bolts. The Mormon god, Elohim, literally graduated from being a normal human immersed in the gunk, into ruling over his own planet. Much less gunk that way. The closest I can think of a “god” getting down and dirty is when in the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah mocks the prophets of the god Baal, by insinuating that he probably isn’t listening because he’s on the John (although the language there too is a little stronger). It seems that both kings and gods like to live the plush life, whenever possible.
Even when they are engaged in the yuck, say leading their armies into war with a neighboring faction, they tend to stay safe and clean. Usually you’ll see them sitting on a horse, offering instruction and orders from the back, behind all the peasants and normal people. You know, the ones who it doesn’t matter if they die or not. All in all, whether kings or gods, it seems ruling over a kingdom gives you a pretty “clean” lifestyle, at least in a manner of speaking.
But there was a king whose life wasn’t clean at all. It started in a barn, and it ended (although temporarily), in a combination or jail, torture, and being murdered by His own people. Stranger yet, He volunteered for the whole thing. Chose it even. When life had handed Him the most delicious glass of lemonade you could ever imagine, He instead decided to go back to the lemons. Here’s how one of His followers put it;
Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Not the kind of thing you’d EXPECT a king to do – but definitely something you’d want Him to do if He was your’s, wouldn’t you? There’s something different about the kind of king willing to empty and humble Himself so that He can relate to you and me. Something that makes you want to lean in. Something that makes you want to know more. Something that makes you want to follow Him. Something that makes Him special. Heck, even God thinks so;
Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The joke from before is funnier because it’s true. When life necessitates getting down and dirty, kings are usually spectators at best. If you ask me, it creates distance between them and their constituents. But when life was at its messiest – Jesus, the King of kings – came down from the perfection of Heaven and got down into the mess with all the rest of us. He’s the kind of king that makes us want to have conversations more like this;
“Who’s that there?”
“I know Him. He’s my King.”
“How do you know”
“He’s dirty like the rest of us. But it’s not His dirt. He’s got my sin all over Him”