The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Christ the King

The first time I was introduced to “magic eye” posters I just didn’t get them. Hardly art, they looked like a complete train wreck of reds and yellows and oranges with just the barest hint of some order in the wavy lines and repetitive patterns. “Focus your eyes on a point about 2 feet past the poster,” I was told.

Several minutes later, I was finally ready to stop “controlling” what I was seeing, and the underlying pattern began to emerge. Sheep! And a rolling hillside! And a single puff of a cloud! It had been in front of me all along, waiting in the third dimension while I fumbled about in my two-dimensional world.

The discovery was sweet—a victory of believing over seeing. The world I thought was manifestly flat actually turned out to be round! I saw into the picture and discovered a new level of truth and reality.

The thief hanging on the cross alongside Jesus saw something the first thief couldn’t. “This man has done no wrong,” he said. “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:41-42). What appeared to the first thief to be nothing more than a two-dimensional world of crime and punishment had within it another truth and a profound reality—for those who would look and see.

The second thief looked deeply into the moment and saw more than a cross—he saw a throne. He saw more than a common criminal—he saw an uncommon king. He saw a world built not around brutish justice but gentle mercy. He didn’t see defeat, but victory; no anger, only love. There was no death, just the affirmation of life.

Jeremiah got it. He looked deeply into the picture of the future and saw that a new shepherd would arise for the people. Paul got it. He looked into the man Jesus and saw the triumphant Christ. He saw Godhead and pre-eminence; he saw victory and hope.

The world I look at, even still, appears often to be two-dimensional and nearly pointless. It can seem void of depth and purpose. It’s only the eyes of faith and the colors of grace that bring to life the marvel that is actually there. Christ is King, and his rule of gentleness and mercy has rewritten the truth about everything.


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