The whole idea of a “Chosen People” was that God would be their only King. But the history of the Jews was such that, time and again, they begged God to give them a king -like all the nations around them.
As it happened, the monarchy among the Chosen People was a mixed blessing. There were some good kings: David, Jehoshapat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. But, starting with Solomon, most were at best ambiguous and at worst downright disasters. So bad were they that there was no move to restore the kingship after the Exile, when the monarchy came to an end (in 587 B.C.)
The prophets longed for a very different king of kings: one who would give the people of God joy, victory, peace and justice. The desire for justice grew into an expectation of an earthly paradise. With Ezekiel emerged a conscious longing, not for a new kind of king, but for a Moses-like figure to restore the Kingship of God, the supreme and only King of the Jews.
It is clear from the Gospel accounts that Jesus had no political ambitions; he carefully avoided being cast in the role of a “Pretender” to any earthly crown. In rejecting secular notions of kingship for himself, he pointed to his real royalty as Son of the Most High and he spent his active years putting in place the possibility of the Kingdom of God.
Hence there is great poignancy in the inscription nailed to the Cross of Christ: INRI “Iesus NAZARENUS REX IUDEORUM (JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS).
We, his followers, become subjects of the Kingdom of God when God snatches us from the power of darkness to transfer us to the kingdom of his Son, in whom we have redemption (cf Col 1:13).
Although the feast of Christ the King was only established in the early years of the twentieth century, the reality of his kingship and the presence of the Kingdom of God is part of the DNA of Christianity from the beginning.
We need “eschatological glasses”, that is a perspective on the Last Times to get a clear focus on the Kingship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.