We want a King

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In 1 Samuel 8: 4-22 the people of Israel plead (through the prophet
Samuel) for a King to lead them. They wanted to be like their neighbouring
countries, who had kings. They were tired of theocracy, where God ruled
Israel directly through his prophets. It would be better to have a King whom
they could see and hear, and onto whom they could project all their
idolatrous longings, as monarchists and royalists often do today.
God decides to give them their way, though not without warning them of
the costs involved. Kings want armies, he says, and kings fight wars: just
remember whose sons will be conscripted! And Kings will tax you
oppressively, not just of your material goods but of your most talented
people. But the people say ‘No, we still want a King to lead us and fight
our battles for us’. Over the centuries they would often regret their
choice.

One of the best kings was David, and it was from his progeny that God
said he would send a great and anointed King, a Messiah, through whom he
would restore his direct rule over his people (the ‘Kingdom of God’). In
Mark 3: 20-35 we see this Messiah, Jesus, in all sorts of trouble with the
Jewish religious leaders, who don’t want to upset the uneasy arrangement
Israel has with the Roman Emperor, Caesar. They don’t want God’s direct rule
again just yet, or if they do, they don’t think Jesus has the qualifications
or pedigree for the role.
So the  top scribes come up to Galilee pronouncing that Jesus is
‘possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons’: that he is of the devil, not
from God. At the same time Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers, think he
has gone ‘ out of his mind’, and want to take him away so as not to
embarrass the family! It just goes to show that when you are following God’s
agenda radically, you will quickly make enemies among those who prefer the
status-quo and conventional respectability. Your enemies may even include
church authorities or family members.

-Philip Muston

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