Jesus: King of the Upside-Down Kingdom

Gaining a different view of the world.

by Tami Rudkin

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49, NIV).

Parade day in our town is a big event. Hours before it actually begins, people gather along the parade route. Children run and laugh; moms run and shout after their children; and young couples stand, holding each other. Our small-town parade includes shiny fire engines, cowboys riding horses, painted clowns, vintage cars, and paper-flowered floats.

We also have an assortment of odd entries. One that always astounds me are the acrobats who walk on their hands for the majority of the parade. I can’t imagine the reasoning for such a feat, and I wonder about their aching bodies when it’s all over. It must have taken a great deal of practice and discipline for them to exist in that position for a time. What a view they must have looking at everyone and everything upside down!


Amazing, isn’t it?

Well, consider this. Jesus is the king of an upside-down kingdom, and He expects us to walk on our hands. He knows it will take a great deal of practice and inner resolve. And I think He knows that we will fail over and over. However, our perspective must be different from the rest of the world’s. His is.

Jesus was the acrobat of all times.

Jesus lived upside down. He was a great religious teacher but didn’t seclude Himself in an Ivy League college, far from those who needed life’s education. He was a healer but didn’t confine Himself to a private hospital to work His wonders. Jesus was the Savior but didn’t deliver just the healthy, wealthy, and popular.

Jesus looked at the world differently than His contemporaries. He saw hope in the hopeless, freedom for the shackled, love for the unlovely, and peace for the troublemakers. He didn’t look at the sinners and scream, “Condemned!” He never pointed to the prostitute and smirked, “Trash.” He never looked at the foreigners and mumbled, “Pigs.” No, Jesus looked at the world differently; some would call it upside down.

The kingdom

Jesus was the king, and He talked a great deal about the kingdom. A kingdom that was among them and yet to come. A kingdom like no one expected and few could understand. Listen to the mandates He gave to His want-to-be subjects:

If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.

If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt.

Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you.

If you are poor in spirit; if you mourn; if you are meek and pure in heart; if you hunger and thirst for righteousness; if you are merciful, peace-loving, and persecuted, then you will inherit the kingdom.

The King

Palm leaves swung in the air. Shouts of adoration reached the heavens, and the crowds claimed Him king. Hours later, Jesus would declare Himself king at the trial to determine His earthly fate. In years to come, He would be hailed the King of Kings by witnesses of the Resurrection.

To His disciples, His kingdom would seem like walking on their hands: They would fall. They would get dizzy with all the odd commands. They would have to develop a completely new sense of direction and perspective. And they’d have to get used to the headaches.

Jesus is king now, as He was then. His kingdom is just as upside down now as it was 2,000 years ago. Will you dare to be his subjects?

Will you work for Him, the servant-king?

Will you hail Him, the forgiving king?

Will you worship Him, the humble king?

Will you sing His praises, the mourning king?

Will you adore Him, love Him, praise Him, and give your all to Him? It’s all He demands except, of course, that you view the world you live in from a different perspective — a mixed-up, turned-around, upside-down perspective.


The parade route is lined with young and old, friend and foe, believer and skeptic. Will you walk on your hands for Him the whole way? The road is hot with the midday sun, and the route still winds out of sight. Standing in the shade of a beach umbrella, with ice-cold drinks whetting their parched throats, the people are watching. They are waiting to see if we can do it.

They are waiting to see if Jesus is really king enough to command such a crazy, almost ridiculous, performance.

With proper training and muscle-stretching discipline, I can walk on my hands for Him.