There is Only One King of Kings
“At the Name of Jesus every knee will bow.” Philippians 2:10
“I should love to lay my crown down at His feet.” Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
My mother was a loyal fan of Queen Elizabeth II. Whenever the queen travelled to Canada, my mom brought us kids to go and see her. For mom, Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada was a moment in history that she wanted to be a part of and one she wanted us children to experience. Other than Queen Elizabeth II, my only other personal encounter with royalty was at an Abbotsford Airshow in 1974, when my friend and I met King Hussein of Jordan. Both of these experiences continue to truly be memorable some forty-eight years later.
My mom’s fascination with royalty has often caused me to ponder the current significant world events unfolding in my own life. They are prime opportunities to assess the climate of our world, its culture, hopes and dreams. They also present an opportunity to discern how our discipleship, the gospel and the work of the church is influenced by or influences these important events. For example, consider the upcoming coronation of Charles Philip Arthur George III. This Royal recently became sovereign of the United Kingdom and fourteen other Commonwealth lands. He is the oldest person to accede to the role of king. This reality came after the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022. The coronation of Charles III will take place on May 6, 2023.
For those new to the coronation pageantry—dubbed Operation Golden Orb—it is both a symbolic religious ceremony where Charles III will be crowned and the physical act of placing a crown on his head. The coronation is a three-day event that formalizes his role as the head of the Church of England and marks the transfer of title and powers. It is a thousand-year-old tradition where Charles III will swear to uphold British law and the Church of England. The monarch will be anointed with oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury and presented with the Royal Orb, the symbol of religious and moral authority. Charles III will receive the Sceptre, representing a monarch’s temporal power and symbolic of good governance. He will also be presented with the Sovereign’s Sceptre, representing justice and mercy, and finally, St. Edward’s Crown.
St. Edward’s Crown is the centrepiece of the royal jewels of the United Kingdom. It is named after Edward the Confessor and has been used to crown British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century. The crown is the most striking symbol of any monarch’s rule; it symbolizes:
- Power & strength
- Dynasty (rightful heir)
- ‘Divine right’ (religious anointing)
- Victory & glory
Charles III will bear the weight of the crown’s responsibilities and duties once carried with grace and dignity by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, for seventy years. Indeed, a crowning achievement for Her Majesty.
The upcoming coronation of Charles III causes me to ponder royalty, the crown and kingship. At the same time, I am reading Revelation. In this work, I am enthralled by how Jesus is portrayed as “Lord of lords and King of kings.”1 Jesus is King. He is divine royalty, one who is deserving to wear the crown and all that it symbolizes. During his triumphant entry into Jerusalem – Palm Sunday – crowds of disciples sang out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38 NIV)! At his crucifixion, the sign nailed to the cross above him read “Jesus, the King of Jews” (Matthew 27:37). Scripture further records Jesus as the King of heaven and earth and the King of righteousness. More than that, Jesus’ kingdom is present and coming, powerful and eternal.
Back to Revelation, and this is my purpose for writing, all human crowns must and will be laid down at God’s throne at the feet of King Jesus. John, the recipient of Revelation’s message, is shown the throne of heaven, and he records the following: “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads…Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:4, 9-11 NIV).
I am convinced that Queen Elizabeth II, a follower of Jesus, we are told, would have laid down her crown (if she could have brought it with her) at the throne of the Lord. The fact is that all of us will have no choice but to lay down our ‘crowns.’ According to the Apostle Paul: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11 NLT).
Again, here is my takeaway, as a disciple of Jesus, I must, like these twenty-four elders at the throne of heaven, lay down whatever ‘crowns’ I claim to possess. I must lay down my crown of authority, power, strength, power, achievement, independence and glory at the foot of the Lord’s throne. Everything I call my own was first given to me by the Lord. Indeed, in him, I live and move and have my being. Every breath I take is because of the Lord’s mercy. I will have a place at the foot of the throne, not because of anything I have done, but because my King Jesus provided a means for me to be there through his work on the cross.
One day we will all bow the knee to King Jesus. One day we will all lay down our crowns before him. For some, they will do so with great weeping, for they understand judgement approaches; for others, they will do so with great praise, for King Jesus is fully revealed and will dwell among them. As disciples, we are not to wait until we literally stand before King Jesus to lay down our ‘crowns,’ we are implored to relinquish them today, and every day after that, because King Jesus is our sovereign today and worthy of our deference, more-than-that, our worship.
As a disciple, I am choosing daily to lay down my crown (those things that represent human power, authority, entitlement, independence or achievement). I do so from a posture of humility – I understand that God is holy and perfect, but I am not. I do so from a posture of gratitude – God has redeemed me and has given me hope and peace. I am thankful for his grace and mercy. I do so from a posture of faith – I believe God is sovereign and has my best interests in mind. I am not in control of my life, and my interests often harm myself or others. Finally, I do so from a posture of joy – God will ultimately bring me into his full presence, and I will no longer experience fears or tears. All hail King Jesus!
Come let us bow down in worship, Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” Psalm 95:6
- Revelation 17:14 and 19:16.