[This post is part of an Easter series: President [fill in the blank] and King Jesus.]
We are in the midst of electing the next president of the United States, and there are ways in which it feels like this election cycle is taking place within a pressure cooker. I’ll be quick to confess that it feels more pressure cooker-ish to me when I have listened to more news coverage than does anyone any good (and perhaps it doesn’t take much quantity to qualify for that description).
Here are two facts that are true as I write this: 1) we are electing a president (and experiencing communal anxiety as we do so), and 2) Easter is here. What do these have to do with each other? We are electing a president, and the crucified and risen Jesus is still reigning as King. But how? How can an unseen Jesus actually be ruling in any meaningful sense, particularly when in any thirty seconds of those news reports, we will see things directly contrary to Christ and his way?
Through the next eight weeks, we will attempt to see through that lens, as we join the worldwide church and immerse ourselves in the book of Acts. For the week of Easter Sunday, Acts takes us here:
Peter took a deep breath and began.
“It’s become clear to me,” he said, “that God really does show no favoritism. No: in every race, people who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him. He sent his word to the children of Israel, announcing peace through Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all! You know all about this, and how the word spread through all Judaea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John proclaimed.
“God anointed this man, Jesus of Nazareth, with the holy spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were overpowered by the devil, since God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the land of Judaea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day, and allowed him to be seen, not indeed by all the people, but by those of us whom God had appointed beforehand. We ate and drank with him after he had been raised from the dead. And he commanded us to announce to the people, and to bear testimony, that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets give their witness: he is the one! Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43, Kingdom New Testament)
By this point in Acts, Jesus has been unseen for some time, yet his reign continued. Just as he earlier had said in response to his disciples’ question about whether it was finally the time when he would really become king, this passage is right on the threshold of the fulfillment of his telling them they would be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.” (In the verses following the passage above, the first crowd of non-Jewish people would receive the Holy Spirit and be baptized–meaning Jesus' message was on its way to every part of the world.) This passage is evidence that although they no longer saw their king, he continued to reign.
Yes, Jesus’ followers would continue to face dangerous opposition, but he continues reigning as king. They would suffer under cruel and ungodly political systems and their rulers, but the announcement of “peace through Jesus Christ” continued then, continues now, and will continue, because Jesus is still reigning as king.
The exclamation point of the passage is “Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all!” If Jesus is, really, Lord of all, we must stop and consider some of the names of people who have not been chosen for that position. The two names at the top of the list of “Not Lord of All” are not presidential candidates, but rather: “You” and “Me.” Despite my never-ceasing attempts to be in control, secure my own happiness, and wish as many people around me as possible would cooperate more fully with my agenda, my life is an ever-constant struggle to remove myself from the throne of my tiny corner of the world and submit the things that have been entrusted to me to King Jesus and his way.
So this passage makes me consider things like: How can my life become an announcement of peace to those with whom I come into contact? When people get to know me, do forgiveness and peace become so tangible that we all naturally learn to lean into them with more trust? Or, have they not taken full enough hold of me so that, instead, my life and those around me just keep going on without encouraging and experiencing real, daily reliance on Christ the king, and instead predictably sliding into fear of the violent, power-hungry, insecure and unstable ways of the world around us?
Jesus is king, now, today–Lord of all. How "in" are you and I on what he is doing in our world? Do we really want to be in on it, considering what it might cost us? What would it look like to really trust this king and his ways in our lives today?