As the Easter season progresses and we approach Ascension Day, I’m reminded that Jesus is not only my Savior but also my King, “governing [me] by His Word and Spirit,” to quote Lord’s Day 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism. In a lot of ways, thinking about Jesus as my Savior makes me look back at the past – back on His death and resurrection, back on His invitation to experience forgiveness and new life. But thinking about Jesus as my King brings my focus to the present and has me asking whether I’m submitting to His reign today.
Sometimes I think it’s easier to call Jesus my Savior than to call Him my King.
When I say Jesus is King, I’m simultaneously saying that I am not sovereign. If He’s leading in front, then I must be the follower. But how often don’t I pretend or try to be in charge, the one in front? How often don’t I prefer to call the shots?
If I were brutally honest in my prayers, they’d go something like this: “King Jesus, You call me to be a peacemaker and to love my enemies, but I’d rather lash out or at least nurse a grudge against that person who hurt me.” Or: “King Jesus, You call me to work with integrity, but this shortcut is easier and will save me time and money.” Or: “King Jesus, You call me to help and identify with the poor, but I’d really rather pursue prosperity and affluence.” Or: “King Jesus, You call me to reach out to others, to introduce them to You, but I don’t want to look like a backwards religious freak.”
See what I mean? Saying Jesus is my Savior is one thing, but saying He is my King is something more. Calling Him my King means I submit to Him (not the other way around). Instead of me hoping Jesus will bless what I want to do or have already chosen, I’m more interested in obeying His will as revealed through the Bible. Every “But, Jesus…” I come up with reveals I’m actually trying to usurp His throne.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit of King Jesus works in the church and in my life. He helps me discover, as Aaron Baart pointed out this past Sunday at Trinity CRC, that maturity according to the Bible is not about becoming more independent as one might assume, but actually means becoming more dependent on God and the faith community. The Spirit helps me see what I often think of as forward progress as actually backward regression in Jesus’ Kingdom. He helps me recognize that what our individualistic and consumeristic culture calls good is actually harmful to my soul and relationships. He helps me align my priorities with what God desires so that the things that bring God joy will bring me joy and the things that break God’s heart will also break mine.
Calling Jesus my King can be hard. But He is the King with nail-scarred hands who saves me by His love. He wants what’s best for me today and for eternity. I’ll end up in far better places than if I were to insist on my own path if I but trust Him enough to let Him be in charge and lead the way.