In a world where the title "king" has become mostly symbolic (think of the "king" or "queen" of England) with no real power behind the title, it is funny to be worshipping Jesus as "king." Kings in the year 2013 are really only interesting as fodder for the tabloids and pop culture magazines. But throughout history, of course, kingship has represented something far different.
For most of human history, to be a king, was to possess massive amounts of power. To be a king was to be immensely wealthy. To be a king was to have absolute power over all the people under your dominion. To be a king was to be second only to God, and for all practical purposes to be God, as far as human beings are concerned. This was exactly how the world saw the king of the Romans, the Emperor.
During Jesus' day, the Emperor of Rome was both king and the son of God. He was considered to be more than human. It was treasonous not to participate in the ritual sacrifices required to be given to the Emperor as the son of God. For Jesus to be called the Son of God or "King" was not only to go against the religious practices of Judaism or Rome, but also to commit treason. So, to worship Christ as king is to make a radical and political statement. To worship Christ as king is to say that true power and might lies not in the hands of those with worldly power, but with God.
When we worship Christ as king the idea of power and might is turned on its head, because Christ the king is different from any king the world has ever known. Christ the king came into this world as a poor and powerless baby. Christ the king was born to a family who had no worldly power. Christ the king voluntarily chose to have no worldly goods, to live with the poor and the outcast, and to side with those who had no worldly power. Christ the king so disrupted those with worldly power that they crucified him. The power of God is not about having power over others. The power of God is the power of love, absolute and total love. And in the end, this love, this power of God triumphed over the powers of this world, and Christ was raised from the dead. The powers of the world did not have the final word. God's love had the final word.
Christ the king is the newest liturgical celebration in our church calendar. It came into being in 1925 as a response to the rise of powerful and dangerous dictatorships throughout Europe. It was created as a statement to the world that true power is not power over. True power is not the power of earthly kings. True power is God's power. True power is the love of God that is more powerful than any power that any human being could ever wield.
As followers of Christ, we celebrate Christ the king Sunday. Christ the king is different from the kings the world knows. Christ the king is not interested in having power over others. Christ the king is not interested in punishing those who are not obedient to him. Christ the king does not use violence to get what he wants. Christ the king does not exploit or take advantage of those with less power so that he can keep his power. Christ the king's power is love. Christ the king's power is compassion. Christ the king's power is justice and mercy. This is the king that we, those of us walking the Christian path, follow and obey, and as followers of this king we are called to show the world the same kind of love.