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Jesus Christ: Divine King (6 of 7)


Jesus often spoke about the kingdom of God, preaching and demonstrating that it had broken into the world in His coming. In His preaching He taught His disciples how to enter the kingdom and the kind of lifestyle to which this would lead, and through His miracles He gave visual, physical demonstrations of the kingdom’s restoring and transforming power.

As we all know, though, where there’s a kingdom, there must also be a king—and for such a kingdom as Jesus describes, the king must surely be a glorious one!

Jesus Is King

A week or so prior to His crucifixion, Jesus did something that made it clear that He Himself was the King in the kingdom of God. Here is John’s description of the event:

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it was written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:12–15)

Later, Pilate would ask Jesus directly, “Are you the King of the Jews?” It’s almost as if he was saying, “Let’s get this sorted out, Jesus. People have been saying you’re a king. Is this what you claim?” Jesus replied, “You have said so” (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3).

If Jesus is King, though, another question presents itself: What kind of king is He? What kind of king, we might ask, rides on a donkey? What kind of king wears a crown that is woven with thorns? What kind of king is dressed up in someone else’s robe and made to look foolish and cruelly mocked by his ill-disciplined military custodians (John 19:1–3)?

To be in Christ is therefore life-transforming. It is a mind-altering experience to bow before the authority of this cosmic Christ, who reigns over all.

The Bible’s answer? Jesus is a king unlike any before, with a reign that is wholly unique in all of history.

How Does Jesus Reign?

In its exposition of the Gospel, the Shorter Catechism asks this important question about Jesus: “How doth Christ execute the office of a king?” That is precisely the question the scenes above force us to ask—and here is the Catechism’s answer: “In subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.”[1] Jesus, in other words, is a king who conquers all the tyrannical forces that are arraigned against us—and, yes, even those that fight within us.

How does He do this? While there are many dimensions of Jesus’ kingship, let’s consider three:

  1. He is King of our salvation.

    Jesus first exercised His reign for our salvation by dying on the cross. There He accomplished everything necessary to deal with our sin (Col. 2:13–15) and to deliver us from the power of death and from the bondage of the devil (Heb. 2:14–15).

    The evidence of His kingly victory is, of course, the resurrection. It is like a loud “amen” being pronounced by the Father in response to the Son’s finished work. Jesus was raised physically from the dead as a sign that His sacrifice for sin was completely sufficient—and we get to join in the benefits (Rom. 6:5).

  2. He is King of the cosmos.

    Scripture teaches us to think of the kingly reign of Christ in cosmic terms: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth” (Col. 1:15–16). To be in Christ is therefore life-transforming. It is a mind-altering experience to bow before the authority of this cosmic Christ, who reigns over all. In a universe of otherwise impenetrable mystery, we are greatly helped by knowing that Jesus is King.

  3. He is King of the future.

    In 1 Corinthians 15, we discover that there is an order to resurrection—first, Christ the first fruits, then, when He comes, those who belong to Him:

    Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:24–26)

    We also learn that as our King, Jesus ascended in order to intercede on our behalf and keep His promise to send the Spirit to His people so that they might experience every spiritual blessing (John 14:16–17). When the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us, He makes much of the Word of God in our lives and points us constantly to the Son of God (John 14:16–15).

All this comprises the glorious benefits of Christ’s triumph and kingship.

“Jesus Shall Reign”

We may not have the right of immediate access to the British monarch in Buckingham Palace in London, but we do have immediate access to our King—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Not only is He our King, but He is also our Savior. Not only is He our Savior; He is also our friend!

In a universe of otherwise impenetrable mystery, we are greatly helped by knowing that Jesus is King.

As you reflect on Jesus’ kingship, consider the words of Isaac Watts, which paint a stirring portrait of His divine reign:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

Blessings abound where’er He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen! [2]

Truth For Life, The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Alistair Begg has adapted this content with permission from Name above All Names by Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson (Crossway, 2013).

  1. ^ The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 26.

  2. ^ Isaac Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” (1719).

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.