I’ll bet you think that I’m speaking about Jesus, or God Himself. And sure enough, that will come later in the post, but for now, I’m speaking about Napoleon Bonaparte, who was crowned Emperor of France on December 2, 1804, 209 years ago today. Napoleon was one of those figures in history who we all learned about when we were in grammar school. And if you don’t know anything else about him, there are probably three things you have heard. They are: he loved Josephine, that he “crowned himself” emperor of France and he was defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. You’ve heard all those things, right?
Well, for starters, he did love Josephine. In fact, on Napoleon’s deathbed, Josephine’s name was the last word he spoke before he died. He was married to her for a number of years, although she did not bear him any children and eventually he divorced her in favor of his second wife. Next, as far as the coronation of Napoleon, there is quite a bit of disagreement on what actually happened. This goes back to an agrument with Rome and the Catholic Church regarding whether or not various members of the clergy who were at odds with Napoleon would be reinstated.
Some reports indicate that Pope Pious VII, who ascended the papacy after the death of Pious VI, went to Rome to officiate at the coronation event. Apparently, his role was to crown Napoleon Emperor of France, but Napoleon snatched the crown from the pope’s hands and placed the crown on his own head – signifying that his position was not subservient to Rome and that he was not beholden to the pope or anyone else. Napoleon then, according to reports, placed a crown on Josephine’s head and she became the first Empress of France.
Another set of scholars finds little evidence to support the claims that Napoleon crowned himself. Official reports of the event maintained that the protocol for the ceremony was set well in advance and that things went as planned, with Pious VII placing the crown on Napoleon’s head. Regardless of the truth here, and there continues to be a deep divide, we know that Napoleon became Emperor of France and King of Italy. He went by the name Napoleon I, and requested that on his gravestone he be referred to only as Napoleon – cognizant of the fact that royalty rarely uses more than one name in identifying themselves. This stirred up quite a controversy after Napoleon’s death and for years his gravestone was kept blank as no agreement could be reached about how to identify this military genius. Eventually, a more suitable grave was created for Napoleon and years later, his remains were moved to their final resting place.
Which brings us to our verse for the evening, acknowledging that there is only one God and one “Lord” of all – that is our Savior Jesus Christ, manifest in the Godhead. We are told, in Psalm 47:7, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” And Paul affirms the Lordship of Jesus in Acts 10:36, “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” So there you have it – King of all and Lord of all – far different from Napoleon who preferred to be called “lord” but didn’t have the credentials to justify it. Our Savior does have the credentials.
My encouragement this evening is that God wants you to proclaim His Lordship and Kingship of everything. My prayer is that you will bow down to the Supreme King and that you will dwell with Him throughout all eternity. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…