The Reign of Christ

Matthew 25 : 31 - 46

Who is a king? What are the things that have been generally associated with a king? When we think of a king usually we think of a throne, a crown, and a king rules a certain land and his rule is limited to a certain period of time. These are the general things that we think of when we think of a kingdom.

But what do we mean when we say Christ is King? Because Christ never had any of those things which have been associated with a king. Then why do we call him a King?

To answer this question let us see what Jesus said at the beginning of his ministry. According to St. Mark’s gospel chapter 1: 15 he said that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that we should repent and believe in the good news. Here Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God. Where do we find this Kingdom? When his disciples asked this question his answer was that the Kingdom is in you, among you and within you. this shows that this kingdom is not confined to time or space. It is a state of being. Wherever there is God there we find the Kingdom of God. Here the emphasis is not so much on the Kingdom but the reign of God. In Greek - Βασιλεία του Θεού

Jesus’ ministry was to make the reign of God a visible reality in this world. That’s why he asked his disciples to pray Thy Kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is clear that his intention was not to take his disciples to heaven by separating them form the world, but to get God’s will to be done in our world as it is in heaven.

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus encouraged people to enter into his kingdom. In his sermons, he narrated parables to explain the Kingdom’s values, attitudes and priorities. In today’s gospel passage, we listen to one such parable. The context and the content of this parable of the last judgment are not connected to anything that can be called religious. It is about the way of life of human beings: whether they are able to fulfil the will of God in their day-to-day life.

This is what Jesus tried to teach his disciples during his earthly ministry. In that process, he had to face many conflicts with the Jewish religious leaders of that time. These conflicts became strong enough for Jewish leaders to want to get rid of him. That is why they were determined to have him executed. We know that the main accusation against him was that he claimed to be the King of the Jews.

Therefore, the Jewish leaders of that time and the officials of the Roman colonial rule of that time contrived to have this ‘King’ defeated on the cross. But the place where they thought he would be defeated became his ‘throne’. The crown of thorns used to torture him became the crown for his reign over the whole world.

But when the church became the state religion something very sad happened. The church removed his crown of thorns and gave him a crown of gold. They replaced the cross with an earthly throne. They tried to make him a colonial king. When Christianity was introduced to Asian countries such as my country Sri Lanka this distorted portrayal of Jesus became a real hindrance in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. Even today, 75 years after Sri Lanka gained independence most people in Sri Lanka think Christians are disciples or representatives of the past colonial masters. For them, Jesus is the supreme King of the colonial masters.

Today as Christians we have to proclaim that Jesus is not the King of colonial masters but the King of God’s Kingdom where peace and justice prevail. He is especially the King for all who have been oppressed and marginalised by the evil powers.

We should make people realise that the Kingdom of God is not confined to the Christian church, though the church exists to proclaim the Kingdom. If the church fails to proclaim the Kingdom others will be used to proclaim the Kingdom. We should remember that the church does not have the monopoly of the Kingdom.

Let us be citizens of the Kingdom here and now by doing the will of God as in today’s parable. Let us proclaim the Kingdom and invite others to become citizens of the Kingdom.