It can be easy to miss the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In John 6:1—13, Jesus fed thousands of people with only five small loaves and two fish. He provided another in a long series of tangible signs that he was the one who had been prophesied about for centuries, the conquering king who would rescue his people from suffering. A tangible sign from a tangible person, God made flesh, descended from heaven to live among men (John 1:14).

We all crave tangible signs from tangible people. Seeing real love and acceptance in another person’s face, hearing encouraging words spoken from someone’s mouth, being able to melt into a comforting hug — we are tangible creatures, and we crave tangible signs. When we experience such signs, we feel motivated to action. After Jesus fed that huge crowd of people, they began to mutter to one another, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (John 6:14) As he heard their conversations, Jesus knew that this massive crowd was about to forcibly take him and crown him king (John 6:15).

At that moment, He did something totally unexpected for a person destined to be king: he withdrew from them. Wait, what? All those prophesies foretold that Jesus would be the Messiah, and the people were ready to crown him then and there. But instead of allowing them to make him king, he moved away from the mass of people and climbed up a mountain alone.

I wonder if having an earthly throne within his grasp was tempting to Jesus. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is able to empathize with us because he was tempted in every way that we are tempted (Hebrews 4:15). Satan once took Jesus up to the top of a high mountain and offered him everything that could be seen, an earthly kingdom as far as his gaze could reach, but Jesus resisted (Matthew 4:8—9). It must have been tempting, having so many opportunities to rule thrust upon him. After all, earthly kings typically don’t have to endure mocking, ridicule, torture and agonizingly slow death. Jesus could have escaped all of that by allowing such a motivated crowd to crown him as their earthly king.

Yet his love for them stretched farther than their limited minds could grasp. His plan was bigger than their tangible brains could fathom. Jesus refused to settle for an earthly throne. He instead paid the ultimate price — death on a cross — to offer every person a new kind of King. This King does not take, he gives. Mercy upon mercy, grace upon grace. He does not condemn, he forgives. There is no limit to his love, no place his forgiveness cannot reach. The people expected an earthly king, a fallible human who could conquer their enemies, but who would sacrifice their loved ones in order to accomplish those victories. Instead, God allowed his only Son to be sacrificed, so that any person who trusts Jesus can be saved. A new kind of victory, a new kind of King!

Today, let’s stand in awe of our King, Jesus. Let’s remind ourselves of how much he gave to sit on the thrones of our hearts. With Jesus in charge, we can face the coming season in humble gratitude for the King to whom we belong!