“He’s Just Not Presidential”
During the Presidential campaign of 2016 it was frequently heard (especially by the opposition) that Donald Trump “is just not Presidential.” Would someone please define what it means to be “Presidential”? Webster says that the word means “relating to a president or presidency” (Yahoo On-Line Dictionary). I have read of “presidential races,” “presidential orders,” “presidential polls,” and “presidential debates,” but the way this word “presidential” is being bandied about refers to something completely different. I really think the politically “elite” have a concept of a President that is completely foreign to the intentions of our founding fathers. The “entitlement mentality” has brought us to the point that we perceive of the President as a doting Grandfather who presides over the well-being of the citizenry of the nation and signs into law those bills passed by Congress that continue to feed the insatiable desire and wants of a nation that has gouged itself on the pleasures of this life and the handouts that Uncle Sam has doled out at the taxpayer’s expense. So when someone comes along who is “out of the norm,” or acts in a way with which we are not accustomed, the nation throws a little temper tantrum and screams, “He’s not Presidential!”
As we come to the conclusion of our study of the Sermon on the Mount it might be fitting to ask, “Does Jesus act Kingly?” Do His actions and words represent that of a King, or do these things suggest that Jesus was nothing more than a person with delusions of grandeur and power? Well, it depends what standard you use as your measuring stick. Earthly kings exercise power, possess wealth, and usually have little concern for the wellbeing of their citizens. Yes, there have been exceptions, but I think I can say without fear of contradiction that the larger part of earthly kings fits that description.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Art thou the king of the Jews?” to which Jesus replied, “Thou sayest” (Matt. 27:11). No, Jesus was not a king in the sense which Pilate asked the question, but He was (and is) a King nonetheless; in fact He is “King of kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). While Pilate (and so many others like him) was a despot, Jesus was a servant. While earthly kings seek after wealth, the accumulation of material things never entered into the quest of our Lord. Instead, Jesus came to “seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Pilate used brute force to secure his power over the people, while Jesus told His disciples to “put up the sword into the sheath” (John 18:11). Jesus was nothing like what the materialistically minded religious elite expected in the coming Messiah. Had the liberal news media of our day been around during the earthly ministry of our Lord there is no doubt they would have pointed a finger at Jesus and declared, “He is just not Kingly!”
Now let the evidence speak for itself. The Sermon on the Mount is a manifestation of the majesty of our Lord. Every word in every verse of these three chapters bespeaks His Kingly nature. Take the words of this Sermon and lift them out of the context and those who read and study its contents will declare without equivocation that these are the words of a King! Place them in their context, and the student cannot help but realize that these words set forth the constitution of the kingdom over which that King rules. The Beatitudes serve as the preamble to the Constitution of Jesus’ spiritual kingdom. They immediately focus our attention on the inner character of the citizens of this Kingdom. Jesus does not say, “Blessed are the physically strong, the wealthy, the educated, or those with large and powerful armies at their disposal.” Instead our Lord places the premium on those who are “poor in spirit,” “they that mourn,” “that hunger and thirst after righteousness,” “are merciful,” “pure in heart,” and “peacemakers” (5:3-9). Earthly kings could care less of the inner character of their subjects so long as they pay their taxes and obey the laws of the land; but our King demands that His subjects develop those inner character traits that determine whether or not they will be a part of His eternal kingdom.
The preamble is followed by the Bill of Rights that sets forth in no uncertain terms the relationship that the citizens of His kingdom must maintain toward their fellow man. The King demands a “righteousness” that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). When the heart is changed, the way we treat our fellow humans is changed as well. Remove hatred from the hearts of men and the killing will cease. Stop the lusting and the adultery will disappear. Honesty toward those around us will make a better society, and the keeping of one’s vows will make better men and women.
Article 1 in the King’s Constitution reminds us of our obligation to this King: “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). The history of this world is strewn with kings and kingdom that have forgotten or never heeded the warning from David: “The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol, Even all the nations that forget God” (Psa. 19:17).
Article 2 in the King’s Constitution warns: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). The sooner men learn this truth the better off they will be.
Our King closes the Sermon on the Mount with various instructions that warn, encourage, and admonish (chapter 7), with the final warning that we build on the solid foundation of God’s word, a truth beautifully portrayed in the parable of the wise and foolish builders (7:24-27).
Now think about the King that spoke these words. He never possessed wealth, never obtained a formal education, and never sought to overthrow a single earthly kingdom with military might. Yet He managed to overcome every earthly kingdom by an army devoted to Him and His teaching. He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books that could have been written about Him (John 21:25). He so influenced the world that every first day of the week His devoted followers gather to remember His life, death, resurrection, all in anticipation of His promised return. Someone has noted:
The names of the past proud statesman of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have come and gone; but the name of this Man abounds more and more. Though time has spread two thousand years between the people of this generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He still lives (Author unknown).
Only the King of kings could have spoken the words recorded in this wonderful Sermon. While some men have decried its value, attacked its contents, and ridiculed its Author, the fact remains that all who have lived by its precepts, have lived and died better men and women.
Jesus may not act kingly, as men measure kingliness, but rest assured, dear reader, that no man ever deserved the title of King as does Jesus our Lord. Truly this wonderful Sermon on the Mount helps us see the majesty of Jesus. Would that men would open their eyes!
By Tom Wacaster