Monday, January 01, 2007

Jesus as the anti-Rehoboam

Israel comes to Rehoboam to make him king. He asks his elders for counsel. They say, “If you will be a servant to this people today, will serve them, grant them their petition, and speak goods words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (1 Kings 12.7).

He then asks the young men with him, they suggest he say this to Israel, “Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke . . .” (1 Kings 12.11).

Jesus comes as the King to his people. Yet he confounds and subverts our expectations of how a king behaves.

Unlike Rehoboam, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light” (Mt 11.28-30).

Rehoboam’s elders counsel him to serve the people. He rejects their advice, insisting that Israel will serve him. He thereby alienates Israel (1 Kings 12.16). Rehoboam acts as God told Israel their kings would act (1 Sam 8.10-20).

Turning these expectations upside down, Jesus says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mt 20.25-28).


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