Prince Edward Island seems to be where the paths of the Bicknells and the British royal family meet. Three years or so ago we managed to shake hands with Prince William. This morning just after we walked into The Rodd Hotel, on Kent Street, for Christ Central Church Charlottetown’s morning meeting, what we thought was Prince Charles and Camilla’s motorcade drove by. Later on as we started our drive home the motorcade passed us on the highway heading in the opposite direction back towards Charlottetown. So near yet so far. We had to leave the island, but our friends’ children get to meet Camilla in the flesh when she visits their school on Tuesday.
Royalty. It puts things in perspective when the future king drives by as we walked into a building to worship the King of kings. Suddenly getting excited over the royal family doesn’t seem that important. I enjoy waving the British and Canadian flag, royal weddings, national events and celebrations and so forth. I like that the royals visit over here from time to time, exciting for us expats, but there is always distance. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall or any member of the royal family visit lots of places and people yet they will never fully identify with everyone they meet. By birth they are privileged. Of course they have their own struggles and heartaches, and when that happens they seem more accessible somehow, but on the whole their world and the rest are inevitably separate.
Compare that to the King of kings. Laying aside all his heavenly glory to be born into poverty, a smelly old stable, forced to flee with his family to Egypt, an immigrant, an outsider, people said ‘nothing good’ came out of his home town Nazareth, no home to call his own as an adult and no possessions. Later he was falsely accused, spat on, beaten, given an unjust trial, and put to death in the most gruesome way, stripped and naked, his body placed in a borrowed tomb. Jesus identifies with the poorest and lowest in society. He knows what it is to feel pain, to be rejected, to be treated unjustly, to be lonely and poor, yet he was perfect. He chose to go through all of that to identify with all of us in our suffering and in our sin. The Bible says he took it all on himself so that we could be free, so that we could come right into his presence for eternity. In his book Generous Justice, Timothy Keller says
‘On Judgment Day, don’t say to The Lord, ‘When did we see you thirsty, naked and captive?’ Because the answer is – on the cross! There we see how far God was willing to go to identify with the oppressed of the world. And he was doing it all for us! There Jesus who deserved acquittal and freedom got condemnation – so that we who deserve condemnation for our sins can receive acquittal (Galatians 3:10-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21)…He not only became one of the poor and marginalized, he stood in the place of all those of us in spiritual poverty and bankruptcy (Matthew 5:3) and paid our debt.’¹
It doesn’t end their either. In an earthly kingdom and monarchy there is separation between the royal family and the rest. Only a very few can become part of it. The kingdom of God is different. Jesus pays our debt and bring us right into his royal family. I find this amazing – that he would do that for us.
¹Timothy Keller, Generous Justice (Riverhead Books: Penguin Group, 2010), pp188