How many times have you misjudged someone, thinking they were weak, incapable, or a push-over? Then, unexpectedly, they act out of unforeseen strength to save the day and make a mockery of your precipitous assessment. King George VI of England was such a man. Encumbered with a speech impediment, a man of great natural reserve and deference, he was considered by English society to be a royal embarrassment. He had none of the eloquence, confidence or charm of his elder brother and heir to the throne, Edward VIII.
But for all of the appearance of strength, Edward had none. His great love was not a love of duty or country, but a love of self. His sordid affair with Wallace Simpson led him to abdicate the throne on the eve of Great Britain’s entry into World War II. In his stead, the timid and unpromising, George VI ascended to the throne. George hardly looked the part of King. But for all his apparent weakness and inability, he had a strength none guessed. His love of country and of duty and his strength of conviction guided Britain through its “finest hour.”
Outward appearances never define a king. Samuel learned this when he went to the house of Jesse to anoint a successor to King Saul. Saul had possessed a kingly bearing. A head taller than every other man in Israel, Saul had looked like a King. So Samuel looked for such a man among Jesse’s sons. But the Lord warned Samuel,
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Samuel’s search led him to David, the smallest and least promising of Jesse’s sons, but the one who was a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) Outward appearances never define a King.
Luke’s account of the crucifixion is remarkable in many ways. It gives scarcely any details about the crucifixion itself, but focuses attention on the reactions of those Jesus encountered as He traveled the way of suffering. He was met with pity, mockery and bitter anger, but also remarkable and unexpected faith. At every turn Luke declares the Kingship of Jesus. Yet, Jesus hardly looks like a King. To the eye he appears to be victim, not victor. Luke uses the word ‘spectacle’ to describe the scene. Those who looked upon this spectacle without faith saw Jesus as anything but a King. But through faith others saw the King entering His kingdom. Outward appearances never define a King.
The “Daughters of Jerusalem” are warned by Jesus not to weep for Him, but for themselves. They were looking at the cross and the Christ all wrong. They did not understand what was unfolding before them. They saw a victim suffering injustice, rather than a King bearing justice. How do you look at the events of Good Friday? What is your response to the cross? Does it evoke pity, mockery, or despair? Or does it call you to repentance, faith, and hope?
Join us on Facebook Live at 10:30 am this Lord’s Day, March 29, as we examine Luke 23:26-49 and consider the Kingship of Christ, powerfully declared, brazenly rejected and savingly believed. For more information about how we are gathering for corporate worship amidst calls for “social distancing” go to our post, How to Survive the Pandemic.