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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 demonstration 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!”1

    Later, Pilate will ask him directly, “Are you the King of the Jews?” It’s almost as if he is saying, “Let’s get this sorted out, Jesus. People have been saying you’re a king. Is this what you claim?” Jesus replies, “You have said so.”2

    Jesus, in other words, is a king who subdues all the tyrannical forces that are arraigned against us—and, yes, those that fight within us too.

    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 a figure of fun and is cruelly mocked by his ill-disciplined military custodians?3

    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 [ministry] 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.14

    Jesus, in other words, is a king who subdues all the tyrannical forces that are arraigned against us—and, yes, those that fight within us too.

    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 sin5 and to deliver us from the power of death and from the bondage of the devil.6
      The evidence of his kingly victory is, of course, the Resurrection. It is like a loud “amen” being pronounced on his work by his Father. Jesus was raised physically from the dead as a sign that his sacrifice for sin had been accepted—and we get to join in the benefits.7
    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.” 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.9

      We also learn that as our King, Jesus ascended in order to ask his Father to keep his promise to send the Spirit to his people so that they might experience every spiritual blessing.10 When he, the Holy Spirit, comes, he makes much of the Word of God in our lives and points us constantly to the Son of God.11

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

    To Know Christ

    Listen to the sermon Divine King

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    “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!

    As you reflect on Jesus’ kingship, consider the words of the hymn “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun,” 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 their chains;
    The weary find eternal rest,
    And all who suffer 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! 12

    Name above All Names

    by Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson
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    Other articles in this series:

    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) John 12:12–15. 2) Matthew 27:11 (paraphrased). 3) See John 19:1–3. 4) The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 24. 5) See Colossians 2:13–15. 6) See Hebrews 2:15–15. 7) See Romans 6:5. 8) Colossians 1:15–17. 9) 1 Corinthians 15:24–26. 10) See John 14:16¬–17. 11) See John 16:14–15. 12) Isaac Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun,” 1719.
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