On Saturday 6th May 2023 my wife Pat joined twelve other ladies to watch the coronation. I wasn’t particularly interested but, back home, I decided to catch the start of the pageant to see what all the fuss is about. Within a few minutes, it hooked me in, I viewed it all from start to finish, and it got me thinking about the parallels between the King of England and the King of Kings.
Talk about the Greatest Show on Earth, well this was it from the superb organisation and precise orchestration right through to the uniforms, golden coaches, and magnificent trumpets. However, it was more than this; it was also moving in parts, joyfully solemn, but most of all it was God-honouring. Right at the outset a young boy presented himself before the king and addressed him with, “Your Majesty, as children of the kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of kings”. This set a tone of reverence that continued throughout the service. For instance, a church leader presented a new bible to Charles with the words: “Sir, to keep you ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, receive this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God”.
Another example is the oaths that Charles swore on the bible. Here is an excerpt from that part of the ceremony:
‘The King kneels at the Chair of Estate. The Archbishop says: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?” The King replies: “All this I promise to do”.
In this article, I want to compare six aspects of the coronation of Charles with the coronation of Jesus two thousand years ago. Then I want to apply these six aspects to the life of us ordinary, although not less royal, disciples of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus.
The king of England arrived at Westminster Cathedral in a golden carriage pulled by six magnificent horses and accompanied by Lords, Ladies, and high-ranking soldiers. The throng of humanity watching from the sidelines cheered and waved and the greeting party at the entrance bowed their heads before their king as he alighted and stepped onto the red carpet leading into the chapel. Two millennia ago, the King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the humblest of beasts. He wore no golden livery nor was his borrowed donkey decked out in any way, yet the crows watching knew what was happening. They gathered Palm branches and spread them on the road before the approaching king and some even laid down their cloaks (Mark 11:8).
‘The great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)
One of the most impressive moments for me at Charles’ coronation was the anointing ceremony. This is the order of service at this point in the preceding’s : The King is divested of the Robe of State, and moves to sit in the Coronation Chair. The Anointing Screen, borne by representatives of the Household Division, is then held around the Coronation Chair. The choir sings “Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king; and all the people rejoiced, and said: God save the king. Long live the king. May the king live for ever. Hallelujah. Amen.” The Arch Bishop then anointed the king with special oil prepared in Jerusalem and flown in for the occasion. Jesus, on the other hand, was anointed by and of the Holy Spirit of God when he rose out of the waters of baptism. Peter later remarked on this with the words, ‘How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.’ (Acts 10:38) When he started his three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus attested to this by quoting from the Prophet Isaiah;
One of the first things presented to the newly anointed king of England as part of his investiture is the heavily bejewelled Sword of Offering as a symbol of justice and mercy. Jesus Christ did not carry a sword during his time on earth, but a vision in the book of Revelation pictures him as having a sharp double-edged sword proceeding from his mouth (Revelation 1:16). Later in Chapter 19:11-16 Jesus’ ultimate triumph is described as follows:
‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’
After the presentation of the sword, the Archbishop invests the king with the Robe Royal and the Stole Royal with the words: “Receive this Robe: may the Lord clothe you with the robe of righteousness, and with the garments of salvation”. Jesus, on the other hand, was not invested but divested of his one-piece linen garment before the soldiers mocked him by draping a scarlet robe over his shoulders.
The high point of the ceremony was when the Archbishop placed the crown on Charles’s head to the cries of “God bless the king!” That crown alone is valued at somewhere between three and five billion pounds (For South African readers that is, at the time of writing this, R94 839 400 000,00) Oh, and by the way, the Sceptre the king carried, with its Cullinan diamond, is worth about half a billion pounds). But Jesus’ crown was made of wickedly sharp thorns woven together by the Roman soldiers and rammed onto his head. When Charles was crowned his son kissed him on the Cheek, but when Jesus was crowned they struck him through the face and plucked out parts of his beard.
So the coronation of King Charles III was a glorious affair while the coronation of King Jesus was ignoble to humans yet unspeakably glorious to the angels of Heaven.
Now, what can we draw from these comparisons to apply to our lives?
King Charles began his coronation journey at Buckingham Palace and ended at Westminster Chapel; Jesus began his coronation journey at the entrance to Jerusalem and ended at Golgotha; we start our life journey at birth and it ends after physical death when we stand before the throne of Jesus in the New Jerusalem. We travel, not in a golden carriage, nor even on a humble donkey, but on foot burdened with the vicissitudes of this life.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
King Charles was anointed with expensive oil mixed in Jerusalem, Jesus was anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit … and so are we! Charles’ anointing was symbolic, but Jesus’ was living and effective … as is the anointing we receive!
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
King Charles held a jewelled sword when seated upon his throne. Jesus referred to himself when he dictated to John that his words ‘are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.’ (Revelation 2:12) We have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God as faithfully recorded in the bible (Ephesians 6:17).
‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.’ (Hebrews 4:12-13)
King Charles was clothed in golden robes with ermine trim, Jesus was clothed during his time on Earth in a simple robe, but is now clothed in light and glory. We are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
‘But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.’ (1 John 2:20)
King Charles received a Royal Crown of gold, silver and jewels. Jesus currently sits enthroned in Heaven crowned with all glory and majesty (Revelation 19:12), We bear on our heads the invisible crown of Righteousness representing our right standing with God (2 Timothy 4:8).
‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12)
‘At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:2-11)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)