Generations of Jewish people awaited the Messiah. Their scriptures prophesied about him and their hope for relief relied on him. But once Jesus arrived, many Jewish people—especially the teachers of the law and Pharisees who dedicated their lives to God’s word—misunderstood him and subsequently, missed the king they had been looking for.
They were anticipating a powerful king, a king who would liberate them from their oppression. They wanted a king to raise up a revolution and overthrow the government. At the bare minimum, they expected a king who cared about the ritual law as much as they did—as much as they believed God did. Jesus would not be that kind of king and He would not be made king by those who wanted to do so by force (John 6:14-15).
For a man who was and would be a king, he didn’t make choices that you’d expect. Even with our own modern day conceptions of who a king is and what a king should do, these traits don’t fit the mold.
He didn’t choose the right company
Who would you imagine Jesus, a man with unlimited power, would mingle with? If you didn’t know his story, you’d probably assume he’d mix with rich and powerful leaders—the Bill Gates types and Warren Buffets of his time. But that’s the exact opposite of what happened. Jesus spend time with those who lived on the bottom of the social ladder—the ethically promiscuous. These types would more likely be found in a dark alley than a board room, but Jesus saw their list of people to be avoided as a list of people to be loved.
He wasn’t very polite.
Diplomacy wasn’t exactly Jesus’ strong suit. You aren’t following the guidelines of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” if you call your friends Satan and your enemies sons of the devil. He said hard things that people didn’t want to hear, but again, if the example of his interaction with the rich young ruler is any indicator, he was still motivated by love and the other person’s best interest.
He chose to serve.
In Greco-Roman society and our own, humility and service aren’t high values, especially for people expecting to rule. But Jesus didn’t need to assert his own authority and he expected his disciples to follow his example (Matthew 20:25). Jesus didn’t spend his time promoting himself. Instead, he spent much of his ministry investing in the same twelve guys, even when they misunderstood him, angered him, and eventually betrayed him. With only hours left on earth, he didn’t change his course by seeking to rule or be served. Instead, he literally took on the role of a servant by washing the feet of those twelve common men.
Jesus refused to be forced into the world’s mold of what they believed a king was. Likewise, today we must ignore the voices around us and inside of us greedily demanding that we conform to the world’s standards by pursuing influential people, flattering those around us for our benefit, and expecting the service of others. If we do not resist that innate and unrelenting temptation, we will have made someone other than Jesus our king.