The Would Be King
Mel Brooks, playing King Louis XVI, delivered that line in the 1981 comedy film History of the World Part I . Kingship as displayed in the film was one of a court full of beautiful, buxom women, gluttonous amounts of food, tons of money, sex, and supreme power over everyone. It was a life of leisure and only the cares in one's mind mattered.
The lure of power, a kingship over people or even just an individual, has always been a powerful temptation for man. It may even be his greatest tempter. Satan snagged Adam and Eve with the promise that they would be like God. Given where they were and the state of communion these first parents shared with God, the devil had no choice but to go for the jugular if we wanted to tempt them. They were in want of nothing material. They had it all, already. Yet Lucifer was able to convince them without trying all that hard that their situation could be better still.
Satan played this card again with Christ when he tempted Him in the desert. He offered Our Lord a kingship over all the world. That the offer was made indicates the depths to which the devil had fallen. Such pure arrogance to have shamelessly tempted one's own creator in this way. One wonders if it was the last instance of hope the evil one ever experienced? For failing here all he could do was attempt to destroy the physical incarnation of The Christ. The Lord's will and spirit were now proven impenetrable.
Christ is the incarnation of God, and along with that He brings the most supreme evidence of the humility of this Loving Father. That God willed to walk with humanity should be enough. Why is one not completely blown away and thunder struck with awe by the historical fact that Jesus, son of God, dwelt among mankind? That alone should be enough for one to ponder what Our Father is all about. If Christ had not said anything; if he had not told the parables; if he had not performed the miracles; if he had not healed the sick or raised the dead; if had just simply appeared and man was somehow able to experience the grace of faith that Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate God, would not humanity still be asking the question, "What does it mean?"
Yet just as it proved insufficient for Adam and Eve, so it goes for their ancestors. But unlike the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Christ can back up His words when He proposes that it can be better still. The devil offers sovereignty over all temporal things in exchange for subjecting oneself to the many pleasures of the world. Christ offers communion, true oneness with God, and He offers this not as an exchange of goods but as a covenant of love. The pleasures then become a blessing of the covenant, in many ways ancillary in nature, versus a means to an end.
One gets offered diabolic kingship every day. The Seven Deadly Sins (pride, envy, gluttony, lust anger, greed, and sloth) are a good starting point to see when one has been invited to such a coronation. Some days, most days perhaps, one will say yes to the offer to be king even if it's in a little way. Often times one is king for a day or even a moment. Is one lustful or prideful or envious all of the time? Likely not.
The devil is, if nothing else, persistent. He continuously offers the blessings of God as the ultimate destination. It remains a subtle disordination of the gifts God bestows to humanity, and when one is tempted to be a would be king of this sort, Our Savior gives the best response.
Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
"It's good to be the slave!"