|KING, CHRIST AS |
The biblical teaching that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament promises of a perfect King and reigns over His people and the universe. The Old Testament hope for the future included a vision of a new king like David, called the anointed one, or the Messiah in Hebrew (2 Samuel 7:16). The prophet Isaiah intensified the promises and pointed to the Messiah yet to come (see
Psalms 110:1). Daniel contains a vision of one to whom was given dominion, glory, and kingdom, one whom all peoples, nations, and languages would serve. His dominion is everlasting and shall never pass away. His kingdom shall never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).
When Jesus Christ was born, His birth was announced in these categories. His earthly ministry then amplified these themes (Matthew 4:17;
Luke 1:32-33). Similarly, John the Baptist proclaimed the presence of God's kingdom in the coming of Jesus (Matthew 3:1). The theme of Jesus as King, Ruler, or Lord dominates the New Testament from beginning to end. We find the culmination of this theme with the Lord seated on a throne, His enemies being made subject to Him and a new name given: “On his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).
The question arises naturally, in what sense is Christ's kingship really operating in today's world? If He is king, how is it that the world is so little changed and His kingship so little acknowledged? Some would answer that Jesus' kingship is completely future. That fails to handle Christ's own statement that the kingdom of God is “in your midst” (Luke 17:21 NAS), “among you” (NRSV), or “within you” (KJV, NIV). Christ's kingship is thus both present yet still future, already here and still yet to come, spiritual and universal.
The present kingship of Christ is His royal rule over His people (Colossians 1:13,Colossians 1:18). It is a spiritual realm established in the hearts and lives of believers. He administers His kingdom by spiritual means—the Word and the Spirit. Whenever believers follow the lordship of Christ, the Savior is exercising His ruling or kingly function. From this we understand that His kingship is more concerned with Jesus' reign than with the realm over which this takes place. When we pray “Your kingdom come” as we do in the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:10), we have in mind this present rule of Christ the King.
Christ's kingship is also present today in the natural world. Christ is the one through whom all things came into being (John 1:3) and through whom all things are held together (Colossians 1:17). He is in control of the natural universe as He demonstrated during His earthly ministry (Mark 4:35-41).
The Bible recognizes Jesus' present kingship and presents the kingship as a spiritual one (John 18:36). The crowd proclaimed Jesus King during His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday (John 12:12-19). We might say the door of heaven opened a bit so that for a brief moment His true kingship appeared to people on earth. He claimed that had the people kept silent on that historic occasion, the stones would have cried out to proclaim Him King.
In addition to Christ's present rule, His kingship will become fully evident in the future. We will see and understand this clearly when Jesus returns (Matthew 19:28). The future kingdom will be essentially the same as the present rule in the sense that men and women will acknowledge Christ's rule in their hearts. It will differ, however, in that His rule will be perfect and visible (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Once manifest, the future kingdom will endure forever. Christ will rule over all things in heaven and on earth. At this time God the Father will exalt Jesus, His Son, to the highest place of authority and honor. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
Jesus established His kingship through His sacrificial death as each of the Gospels shows clearly. Pilate recognized more than he knew when he created the sign, King of the Jews, for the charge against Jesus. Jesus' kingship finds its highest exercise as He gives the blessings He secured for His people through His atoning work (Romans 8:32;
Ephesians 1:3-11,Ephesians 1:20-22). Jesus will continue to reign as the second Person of the Trinity. His God/man personhood will not cease. Jesus Christ, the King, will reign as the God-man and will forever exercise His power for the benefit of the redeemed and for the glory of His kingdom.
David S. Dockery