As a child of the 1980s, Michael Jackson has always been a fixture in my memory. Whether it was as a child with the Jackson 5 or his “Thriller” album (was there a household in America that did not own a copy of that record?) or the sad carnival sideshow that his life became, we all knew the “King of Pop.” He spoke and we listened. He acted and we paid attention. He went on tour and he commanded hundred of dollars per ticket. That is power, freakish though it may be.
Before there was the King of Pop, there was the King of Rock and Roll. Just about anybody over age of 65 here in Memphis has their own personal Elvis Presley stories. He shaped an entire genre of music. He has a street named after him. And a trauma center too. His end was as sad as Jackson’s, but who can deny Elvis’ royalty?
The latest king plays basketball, King LeBron James. Love him or hate him, none can deny he elicits strong emotions. When the Miami Heat comes to town, count on a sold out arena. This King has had his image plastered on magazine ads encouraging us to come “witness” the works of this king. He has been emblazoned on murals the size of buildings. He is at the height of basketball prowess, and even Michael Jordan knows it.
I grew up in Canada where the British royalty remains an honored institution. Life stops for a royal wedding. My mother still has a commemorative plate from Charles and Diana’s wedding in her china cabinet and that was twenty-five years ago. Now, simply say the name “Kate” and we know you are referring to Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge. Beside her always is the dashing William, the next king of Britain. I am too young to remember the coronation of Elizabeth II, but be assured that William’s coronation will be a fete unequaled in pomp and circumstance.
Then we come to a coronation of an entirely different sort today:
The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard–that is, the Praetorium–and called together the whole squad. They dressed Jesus up in purple; then, weaving together a crown of thorns, they stuck it on him. They began to salute him: “Greetings, king of the Jews!” And they hit him over the head with a staff, and spat at him, and knelt him down to do homage. Then, when they had mocked him, they took the purple robe off him, and out his own clothes back on. (15:16-20)
This is a very different king. Power means something very different to this king. People respond differently to this king. There must be different principles in this kingdom.