by Carol Dixon
When my youngest granddaughter first started school she loved to play cards with me to help with her numbers and her favourite game was ‘Clocks’ as she called it (Clock patience). We used to take it in turns to turn over the next number and if one of us turned over a king she got very excited and nervous in case the kings won, as she put it. For some reason she didn’t mind the King of Hearts winning and when I asked her why she said that he was her favourite as he had a nice face. She went on to say ‘Granny, what kind of king do you like?’. I agreed that as far as the cards went I liked the King of Hearts too but told her that my favourite King of Hearts was Jesus and taught her one of my favourite songs from Mission Praise – ‘I love the name of Jesus, King of my heart, he is everything to me’.
[words in YouTube video below]
‘What kind of king are you?’ is a question often asked of Jesus. It was asked by Pilate on Good Friday and the disciples, too, pondered the question. A few years ago I wrote an imaginative reflection based on Simon Peter’s thoughts on the matter which led to me writing a song to describe what kind of king I thought the answer might be.
It was an embarrassing moment; piling into the upper room,
Only to discover the door servant wasn’t there
– he’s the one who usually washes feet.
We threw off our cloaks on the cushioned couches
and sat, awkwardly, preferring not to recline –
no-one wants to rest his head next to his neighbour’s hot and dusty feet.
We knew that one of us should have got up and served the others;
but on the way here we’d all grandly put our case for which of us
would be the greatest, would sit in the highest seat in his coming kingdom –
menial tasks weren’t on our menu.
And so He took the basin and the towel, stripped himself of all but his humanity,
knelt on the floor in front of each one of us, and gently bathed our feet.
He wasn’t even acting out the duties of a slave; in that moment
he became the lowest of the low.
There was no way I’d let him touch my feet, abase himself before me!
He was my Master and my Lord, for God’s sake.
I couldn’t comprehend why he should do this when it should have been me,
their so-called leader – or one of us at least.
‘Never!’ I said, recoiling away from him. I remember his reply to this day.
‘If I don’t, then you won’t belong to me.’
I thought back to the time on the boat, that very first day when I fell at his feet.
‘Then, Lord, wash me all over,’ I said. ‘Bathe me, in your beauty, and your love.’
I told him I’d die for him, you know,
that night in the upper room,
and I meant it. He just looked at me
with that knowing smile of his,
and slightly shook his head, while his eyes
bored into my soul with such love
as he said he knew I wouldn’t.
I didn’t believe him, of course –
none of us did – we were all so sure
of ourselves, our faith in him,
in the future.
Even later on, standing in the courtyard
by the flickering firelight, when I denied
I knew him, it was like someone else
speaking, it couldn’t be me.
Or so I thought, until he looked at me
as they brought him out, battered, bruised,
draped in the purple robe, with that cruel crown
on his bleeding head, like a parody
of a puppet king.
They say Pilate asked him if he was a king.
I wouldn’t know. I don’t speak Latin or Greek,
but John knew the interpreter –
John has quite a few friends in high places
which was how we came to be in the courtyard
in the first place, standing by the charcoal fire.
Every time I smell one now, I remember.
I told him I’d die for him, yet, when it came to it,
I suppose he died for me – for all of us.
What kind of king does that?
© Carol Dixon
What kind of King?
1. What kind of king is this,
who gave his life for me,
to show me how to live
and died to set me free?
What kind of king is this
who came from heav’n above
to live among us here
and show God’s love.
2. He rescued us from death,
part of God’s mighty plan
to save humanity
through this one perfect man.
I cannot comprehend
a love so great, so strong,
that gives itself away
to right all wrong.
3. What kind of king is this
who walks the way of pain
that humankind may be
brought back to God again?
He is our sovereign Lord,
the one whom we adore,
and praise his holy name
4. Behold the Man of love!
Behold the Crucified!
He is our God’s own son
who came to earth and died
and rose again with power;
He is our king divine,
he lives and reigns with God,
Lord of all time.
5. Behold the Man of love,
Behold the king divine,
accept his sacrifice,
his love sublime.
© Carol Dixon
Nowadays kings & kingship is seen as old fashioned in many places and many people don’t like the idea of someone ‘lording over them’. In the UK we are fortunate that our monarch has always seen her role as one of service rather than privilege. Jesus exemplifies the idea of a Servant King and took it one step further when he not only lived to serve but also laid down his life for friends and enemies alike. One of my favourite hymns is ‘You are the King of glory’.
When our folk group sang it in church we added some extra verses which described for us the kind of king we follow.
2. You touched the broken hearted,
You made the blind man see,
You made the lame to walk again,
You set the prisoners free;
You bring us joy in sadness,
Fill our hearts with hope, for
You give us joy and peace from heaven:
You are Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Chorus: Hosanna to the son of David,
Hosanna to the king of Kings,
Glory in the highest heaven,
For Jesus the messiah reigns.
3. You set aside your greatness,
Humbly were born on earth,
Laid in a stable rough and bare
You shared our human birth,
Lived as a man among us,
Died upon a cross, so
We now can live your risen life:
You are Jesus Christ, the Lord. Chorus:
4. You are the Lord victorious,
Conquering sin and pain,
Triumphing over Satan’s power,
You rose to life again.
Now Lord, you sit in heaven,
Reigning with the Father,
All knees shall bow in praise and worship
You are Jesus Christ the Lord. Chorus:
Xtr vs Carol Dixon & St George’s Folk, Morpeth URC
This Easter season you might like to ask yourself ‘What kind of king is Jesus for you?’