Mocking the King

From the opening of his Gospel to its conclusion, Matthew takes pains to display Jesus as King. In the first verse, He is called “son of David,” to whom God had said, “Your house and your kingdom shall be established before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16), and “son of Abraham,” to whom God promised, “kings shall come from you” (Genesis 17:6). Jesus began His ministry by preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven would be conferred upon the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (5:3, 10). He taught with the authority of a king (7:29), cast out evil spirits with a royal command (8:32), and subdued the winds and the waves with a simple word (8:23). Calling Himself Son of Man, He invoked the ancient prophecies of Daniel, to whom it was revealed that “all peoples nations, and languages” would “serve Him… His dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Daniel 7:14). Over the centuries, Israel had rejected God as King in order to establish their own human rulers, and had consistently refused to submit to their only real Sovereign. As a consequence, they had come under the harsh rule of foreign potentates, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, and now the Romans. Roman legionnaires now feign obeisance to Jesus as the King of the Jews. Stripping Him, clothing Him in the scarlet robe of commanders, pressing a thorny crown into His skull, placing a reed into His hands as a substitute scepter, kneeling before Him in false humility, and greeting Him as they would Caesar, followed by spitting and buffeting, they mean to heap scorn and shame upon Him. Little do they know that future Roman Emperors would declare Jesus to be their King. Their play-acting foretells the day when “every knee shall bow, … and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 10:11). Quite unaware that they are already fulfilling the prophecies in Daniel, as well as Micah (Micah 5:2, 4) and Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1-10), they imagine that because Jesus cam the first time “meek and lowly, riding upon a donkey,” He will not return “sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 21:5; 26:64). Less we be too critical of these pagans, however, let us remember that we, too, mock the King of Kings whenever we fail to obey His teaching; to submit respectfully to those in authority over us; to exercise authority with gentleness; or to trust in Him alone to save us. How prone we are to put our hope in false messiahs, and to scorn our only Savior!