The Crowning of a King

Sam Orr


It has been 70 years since the last coronation of a British monarch, and so this weekend offers us the chance to see one up close and in glorious technicolour, as we witness another historic moment in the life of our Island story.

Having mourned the loss of a beloved Queen only months ago, with all its occasion and ceremony and heaviness, we now turn to the far brighter and more hopeful event of the Coronation of a King. And thousands of us will be tuning in on our TVs, or perhaps even going to streets of London itself, to witness the crowning of King Charles III, if for no other reason than our being intrigued by the sheer grandeur and history and spectacle of it all.

The numbers alone bear the staggering enormity of this moment:

The procession of the King will involve 6,000 armed forces personnel, 200 horses, more than 60 aircraft and two gold state carriages…

The crown Jewels on display, including the crown of state, will include 23,000 gem stones to an estimated cost north of £10 billion…

The coronation throne is over 700 years old, made of gold leaf and is the most precious seat on the earth…

The reception will include a nationwide call of Long live the King!, a gathering of some of the most important people in the world, and a concert graced by the greatest singers, actors and presenters on the planet…

And all set in the theatre of some of the grandest, most beautiful, historical and recognisable cathedrals and palaces in the world…

There is no wonder that this spectacle is set to be watched, potentially, by a billion people… whether many of them are monarchists or not.

This kind of pomp and ceremony is something we are perhaps more used to than most other nations in the world. Our history is saturated in it. From the early days of Scottish and English kings and queens being crowned on precious stones in almighty churches with priceless jewels… through the Norman conquest, through the unions of the crown and parliaments, and through every age of Britain since, monarchs have come and gone and been replaced with another, going through the same process of being crowned before their subjects in ever greater opulence; the coronation being the moment where that person’s royal birth is recognised, secured, exalted and cast before a nation, and before the world, such that everyone cannot help recognise that they are sovereign, with the right to rule and reign.

As anachronistic as all that may be to our 21st century ears, it makes sense that these occasions were grand, huge, bright. Noticeable.

And we get to witness that same event this weekend.

But as we witness the crowning of King Charles, it reminds us of the crowning of another king.

THE King.

King Jesus.

Who was also crowned and exalted and lifted up for all to see, proclaimed as King of a nation and processed before his subjects, given robes and a crown, a throne and a reception… but under stunningly different circumstances.

For His procession was not in a gold carriage… but was on the back of a young donkey….

His crown was not a priceless, jewel encrusted heirloom… it was a crown of thorns…

His throne upon which he was lifted was not a plush, royal seat… it was a wooden, Roman cross…

His cry of reception and homage from the crowd was not, “long live the king!” It was, “crucify Him!”

His royal kiss was one of deceit from a close friend, his royal robes were rags to be worn in humiliation in front of His enemies, and his moment of exultation was one of cruel, public death.

His procession was his funeral march, his glory was in his shame, and his palace was a tomb.

And thus the king of the world was crowned.

And thus the very nature of this king was displayed publicly for ALL to see. Noticeably.

For it is in the thorns and the brutality and the cross and the shame that we see a King who was to be a very different kind of King to the one we see crowned this weekend. We see a King who came not to be served – not to be recognised with jewels and gold, or honoured by princes and presidents, or to reside in palaces and stately homes… but a King who came to serve His subjects, by ultimately dying for them.

Indeed, by ultimately dying for us.

In the letter of Paul to the Philippians, chapter 2, we have a wonderful song written about this dramatic crowning of this very King. We read:

Christ Jesus, though being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross…

Jesus, God’s Son, God’s King, the Creator, gave up everything, even His own body on a cross, for His subjects. All so that we might know Him.

For as humans we are citizens of his creation and yet we actively live against this King, not wanting to know Him… wanting to be our own kings of our own creations. Denying that He even exists. And the outcome of living that way is our eventual death. The final thing that separates us from knowing our eternal creator God.

But God out of his great love for his people, sent his Son, His King, Jesus, to die in our place… living the life of obedience we should have lived… dying the death that we deserved to die… paying the price of our rejection of Him that we should have been paying… giving his life as a ransom for us, his subjects, whom he loved, literally, to death.

THAT is why King Jesus is crowned on a cross.

As a sign that he wants us back. And that he will do ANYTHING to get us back.

But he was also crowned on a cross in order to show what, ultimately, this king was to achieve.

For the cross was not the end.

Paul in Philippians hasn’t finished singing. His song continues:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and King, to the Glory of God the Father.

Three days after being buried in his tomb, Jesus raises from the dead and ascends into heaven, beating death once and for all. Proving that if we come to know this King… if we accept this King… if we ask forgiveness and the help of this King… then death is not the end for us, but exalted everlasting life is.

For that is where King Jesus’ coronation ends. It didn’t end on the cross. It ended in his true exaltation in his resurrection to eternal glory. The single, greatest feat that only God’s King could achieve… an act where his royal birth as the Son and King of God was recognised, secured, exalted and cast before the world, such that everyone will not be able to help but recognise that He is Sovereign, with the right to rule and reign, with all of us crying out, “Forever live The King.”

One of the last pieces of music you will hear at the coronation this weekend is a new composition based on Psalm 98 where the following words will be sung. Words that most appropriately sum up the right response to The King:

Sing to the King a new song,
                for he has done marvellous things;
            His right hand and his holy arm
                have worked salvation for him.
            The King has made his salvation known
                and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
            He has remembered his love
                  and his faithfulness to his people
            all the ends of the earth have seen
                 the salvation of our God.

The crowning of King Charles III might be the spectacle we all want to see this weekend. But is King Jesus, who has worked eternal salvation for us at his coronation, not the King that we would all love to know forever?