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Long Live the King!

Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!” 2 Kings 11.12.

The “king’s son” in this verse is seven-year-old Joash, the only surviving member of Israel’s true royal family. A woman called Athaliah had seized the throne when Joash was just one year old and murdered all his relatives but, unbeknown to her, Joash had escaped the slaughter and has been kept in hiding until the moment described in today’s reading. Now, before Athaliah knows what is happening, Joash is made king.

This story brings to mind another baby who was “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2.2) and who escaped slaughter by someone who was not the true king! (Matthew 2.16). For thirty or so years, his kingship was hidden, but then, on the first Easter Sunday morning, as he strode out from the tomb, God proclaimed him king too — a greater king than Joash! Peter puts it this way in his address to the crowds on the Day of Pentecost … “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2.32-36).

In those days, to make someone Lord was to make them emperor; and to make someone Christ was to make them king. Christ is the Greek chrestos which simply means anointed – just as Joash was anointed. So Peter’s great claim is that, by raising Jesus from the dead, God has made him Israel’s true king and the world’s true emperor … as Tom Wright puts it so strikingly in his Easter Oratorio (see Easter Saturday in Crumbs), “Caesar’s  Lord and Israel’s King”. Hoew important it is for me to grasp that, believe it, and proclaim it …

Long live the king!

PS. It might help to watch the video “That’s My King!” in Crumbs.

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