Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Last week’s attack on the capitol left the country shaken. The ground of the National Mall vibrated as a mob marched toward the capitol building. The halls of the capitol rumbled with the chants of extremists and white supremacists. The souls of millions shuddered as we watched so much harm be done and so little resistance to the insurrection offered.
We live in a crumbling empire—that much was made clearer than ever on Wednesday.
An empire doesn’t crumble in a day, though. It erodes slowly. But it does seem we are now reaching a new low in people’s trust in the system and our leaders. I have heard countless complaints from both liberals and conservatives that there are no honest politicians anymore—no one can be trusted because once they’re sworn in they become part of a political game that has very little to do with representing the people who elected them.
Maybe you, like many, have lost faith in the leaders around you. Maybe you have seen them waver in their responsibilities and falter under the temptations of power. Maybe you have said things like, “I’m just voting for the lesser of two evils,” or, “None of these leaders really represent what I stand for.” Maybe your trust in this system—this empire and its kings—is shaky at best. If so, then I invite you to consider a new king—an unshakeable king named Jesus.
I know, I know. That sounds too churchy—too evangelical. We’ve all seen signs and shirts promoting “Jesus for President!” but we all know that Jesus is not on any ballot. When we say “Jesus is Lord” we know we mean Jesus is a “spiritual” lord, but realistically he’s not doing any real governing. Right?
But put that thought on pause for a second. What if Jesus is more than a spiritual king? What if we actually choose whether to live under the lordship of Jesus or under the lordship of whoever is sitting in the Oval Office? What if that was a real choice where you can’t have both? Who would you choose?
Just as our political leaders today are tempted by forces of power, prestige, and wealth, Jesus was tempted too. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read that while fasting in the desert Jesus was tempted three times to compromise his integrity for the sake of honor and power. Each time he resists and remains true to his calling.
Throughout his life, Jesus encountered many shaky leaders—leaders who could not resist the temptations of power.
Before Jesus was even born, King Herod feared the rumor that a new king of the Jews had been born—a king that would take his place. In his paranoia, he searched for this newborn king, forcing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to flee as refugees to Egypt. Herod went on to brutally kill all boys in the Bethlehem area two years old and younger.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus was in constant conflict with religious leaders. They despised Jesus for challenging religious protocols, touching the unclean, dining with the unrighteous, welcoming the outcasts, forgiving the sinners. In the end, these leaders organized to have Jesus killed.
After the religious leaders had Jesus arrested, he then stood before Pilate—Roman governor of Judea. Though Pilate himself found no guilt in Jesus, he gave into the power of a mob calling for Jesus’s death. To protect his own power, Pilate gave Jesus over to be crucified.
Through all of these encounters with shaky leaders, Jesus remained faithful—even to the cross. And on that day when Jesus—the unshakeable one—was killed, the earth itself shook, stones split, and dry bones rattled as they felt the pulse of redemption. Three days later, the stone that covered Jesus’s tomb rolled away, setting off a rumbling of resurrection that would be carried on by the footsteps of women—beautiful footsteps full of good news that would continue to shake the earth unceasingly as news of Christ’s resurrection spread throughout the world and through time. If you have ears to hear, you will still hear the pitter-patter of those feet; the rumbling of that rolling stone can still be felt.
So again, which king and which kingdom will you choose? Jesus offers himself as the unshakeable king—the one who is not swayed by temptations of power, nor by the chants of war, nor by bribes of wealth. If you’ve lost all faith in your current leaders, try your faith on Jesus.
What if I told you that while Jesus does not have an office, a legislature, or even one of those fancy monogrammed wax seals, he is doing some very real governing in our world? What if I told you that some people really do live under the reign of Jesus? There really are communities of people living in the ways of Jesus where repentance and forgiveness are the modes of operation, where peace—not violence—is a way of life, where time is spent honoring God rather than idols of American materialism, where neighbors are cared for no matter who they are, and where enemies are loved—not killed.
If that sounds like good news to you, consider joining one of these communities. On Ramps is one such community seeking to live in the ways of Jesus our Lord.
If you want to learn more about Jesus the unshakeable king or if you long to rediscover Jesus as king, then follow along with us throughout 2021 as we read through the book of Hebrews and unpack our theme for the year: The Unshakeable Kingdom.