Two Kings in Contrast
Today’s reading: II Chronicles 7-9; John 13:1-17
22 Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. II Chronicles 9:22
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 13:12-14
Two kings of Israel are portrayed in today’s readings: Solomon and Jesus. They are both kings and they are both kings of Israel, but beyond that they could not be more different in how they were treated and perceived nor in the outcome of their lives.
Solomon was endowed by God with great wisdom. With that came the honor of being consulted by all the other kings and queens of the earth, and of gathering wealth beyond comparison. Although the writer of Chronicles does not focus on it, Solomon was a victim of his own earthly success, being tripped up by the paganism of his many wives and concubines (I Kings 11:1-40). We read that he died and was buried quietly with his forefathers. Humanly speaking, his reign was successful and peaceful.
Jesus had just been received in Jerusalem and acclaimed king of Israel (John 12:12-15). But where do we find Jesus on the night of the Passover? Washing the disciples’ feet and wiping them with a towel. He had no actual earthly power or position. He was not wealthy. He was hunted by the elite, not sought after by them for advice. He was merely Teacher and Lord for twelve men whom He was showing how to serve and love one another as He waited to be betrayed, arrested, charged, tried, sentenced, and crucified by the authorities of the Jews and of the Roman Empire. He did not die quietly after a long reign. He died in agony on a cross. He would not be buried with “his fathers” but in a borrowed tomb. Yet, most importantly, neither would He rot in the grave, but rise triumphantly to life as the Conqueror of death and the Savior of His people.
Truly Solomon’s reign is antithetical to Jesus’ life and ministry at His first coming, and only a pale reflection of the glory of the Kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed and which is still to come completely. Jesus is the King of Israel, the chosen people of God from all the earth who are blessed to be His. Pray that His kingdom may come in fullness soon. Meanwhile, let us follow our Teacher and Lord in humble obedience and loving service.