By: Lisa Horn

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus blessed Peter for saying this, affirming that it was the Father who had revealed this to him. (Matthew 16:13-17)

The word messiah is one that we hear frequently but what does it actually mean?

In Judaism, the messiah is believed to be a future king of the world and a descendant of King David and King Solomon. It was and is believed that the messiah is chosen by God to lead his people and in doing so, save the Jews from their perpetual persecution. As Catholic Christians, we believe that Jesus is this messiah; this king who leads us, redeems us and saves us.

So, I don’t know about you, but when I think of today’s world leaders, kings or authority figures that appear in movies or series that I watch, or even the ones that I have learnt about in history, the kind of words that come to mind are; wealth, money, power, self-interest, fame, image, influence, greed, corruption.  Nobody could describe Jesus as any of the above-mentioned qualities.

Jesus was far from wealthy. He was born into poverty and died in poverty. Furthermore, he was humble. He was not absorbed by his own interests as so many leaders often are but was consumed by fulfilling the will of his Father and poured every inch of himself into serving us, his creatures, to do so. A lesser known title of Jesus’ is the divine servant, which tells us just how selfless he is. Even though He was and is almighty God, He never tried to portray such an image.

Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are. Philippians 2:6-7

Instead he performed many acts that seem uncharacteristic of a king – he cared for the marginalised, he dined with tax collectors and let sinful women wash his feet and even touched lepers, just to name a few. Furthermore, Jesus is a healer. The miracles he performed were not attention seeking magic tricks, to increase his reputation or power but rather signs of the Father’s love for us and His desire to make us well. He never performed any miracle purely for himself, which is why he left the stones as stones when tempted by the devil to make them bread in the desert. He then performed the ultimate sign of sacrifice by dying for us, giving us his flesh to eat and blood to drink to sustain our souls and prepare us for eternity with Him. He is a king unlike any other, one that is slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

So, if Christ is a King then he must have a kingdom. In this world, there are actual kingdoms with kings and queens, and then there are the kingdoms of celebrities or of the popular kids at school. All the worldly kingdoms can be underpinned by the desire for fame, popularity, money or high social status. But by following Christ the King and his kingdom we are not promised any of these things. In fact, following Christ almost promises us persecution. So why on earth would we choose Christ’s kingdom then? Because we are promised things that are eternal and therefore far more valuable. Things such as grace, peace, love, happiness, eternal salvation and freedom. The kingdoms of this world will fall and end. Only Christ’s kingdom will last forever.

Because the Jews were expecting a King with vast earthly power and a great, scary army under his wing, they did not believe that Jesus, this poor, ordinary man, could possibly be the one God sent to save them. And so, he was mocked, beaten and ultimately crucified. But death could not stop him, because Christ the King has authority over life and death. His reign could not be ended with death, because his kingdom is not of this world. We are welcomed into the Kingdom of God in baptism and are called to faithfully follow Jesus, live by His example and adhere to His authority.

This leads me onto my next mind-blowing statement which is; only by accepting Christ’s authority can we find true freedom.

Finding freedom by being obedient to someone else’s authority, what!? That sounds so counter-intuitive doesn’t it? This is because Christ’s authority is unlike any form of authority we know from our world. Jesus is not a slave driver and his authority is not oppressive because He created us out of love and desires what is best for us. He cares what happens to you even more than you do.

Matthew 11 says:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A yoke is a wooden contraption that was used normally to join two oxen together to make things easier to carry. If you can just imagine the image of walking in step with Jesus, sharing your burden, making the load easier and lighter. When you pursue his agenda for your life he gives you the strength and wisdom to do it, to face those battles, to endure the hardships, and he carries the burden with you. St Augustine summarised this very nicely by saying, “O God, to turn away from you is to fall. To turn to you is to stand up. To remain in you is to have a sure support.”

We face two judgements; one when we die, which everyone has to do, and one at the end of time, when Jesus will come again and gather everyone for the Last Judgement. In the presence of Christ, every individual’s relationship with God, their actions and personal choices of the heart will be revealed. Those who lived lives following Christ the King and his authority, will be gathered into eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. And those who rejected him will be sent into eternal punishment. This reality is entirely true, and the choice is entirely ours.

So, what will you choose? Will you seek the comforts and kingdoms of this world? Or will you follow Christ the King to eternal happiness?

About Author: Lisa Horn11267849_10206974522151338_5709410809526323660_n

A sweet-toothed Speech Therapy student at the University of Cape Town. I have a penchant for coffee, dogs and French language and culture. I am happiest outdoors, asleep or in adoration (sometimes the latter two unintentionally coincide). I hope to one day walk the Camino de Santiago and swim in every ocean on Earth (apart from the Antartic #nothanks)