January 27, 2024

Adjusting the Picture

Mark 10:35-40

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.

—  Mark 15:27

What picture forms in your mind when you think of a king? Maybe it’s a handsome man with a golden crown on his head and a jeweled scepter in his hand. Maybe it’s someone giving orders while others bow before him and do as he says. Most likely, when we think of a king, the last thing we picture is a cross.

That’s why we have to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus is a different kind of king, and that his kingdom is a different kind of kingdom—different from anything the world has ever seen.

James and John still had to learn that. They pictured King Jesus sitting eventually on a gold-plated throne, and they wanted to be sitting right next to him. They wanted the power that comes with proximity—and that showed they didn’t understand the glory of Jesus. They didn’t understand the way of his kingdom. Jesus said that the places they wanted were reserved for others. And it turned out that two rebels were crucified on the right and the left of Jesus.

Here’s what it adds up to. Forget the gold. King Jesus “sits” on a throne made of two crossed pieces of wood. And his glory is to do the will of God. King Jesus suffers and dies because his kingdom is about mercy and forgiveness rather than about power and conquest. We need to keep adjusting our picture accordingly.

Lord Jesus, you are such a strange king. Your kingdom is strange too. And that’s good because it’s exactly what this world needs. We need it too. Every day. Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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