“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John
Christ has Himself declared that He is King. He is King not only in the sense that He shall some day become one; He was a King while He was here upon earth, and even as He appeared before the Roman tribunal.
Contrary to all appearances, He is King today. It is true that godlessness sways the world with a superhuman power. Satan harries the races of mankind and drives them as straw before the wind. Yet Christ is King. If we are to see Him as such we must have our eyes enlightened and anointed by the Spirit who alone can enable us to see light in God’s light.
There was little of regal glory over the infant born in a stable of poor parents in straitened circumstances; it is difficult for us to see any remnants of royalty in the Savior who lived all of His life as a poor man and finally died upon the cross. Nevertheless, it was through suffering that He became a King. The journey through Calvary and the grave was a coronation procession; He was crowned King for all ages, and now He goes from victory to victory.
* * *
We shall consider three aspects of Christ’s Kingship.
The first is that He recruits citizens for His Kingdom one by one. Through the Spirit and by the Word He goes out to the masses to reveal His love and grace to them. He opens the door to light, life, liberty and salvation; He gives all this to each one who comes to Him. He calls all, but compels none. As a fond mother seeks her wayward son in love and pity and asks him to return home, so Christ seeks the straying sinner.
He has won many in this manner. Thousands of people in the world have come to Him. They have received Him as Savior, and He has established His throne in their hearts. His first act is to induce the individual to submit his will to God’s will; in that way Christ gains the power over sin that lodges in the secret places of the heart. It is in the heart of His people that Christ rules. Every true Christian yields to Him and asks Him to drive out sin and to rule in the heart. They bow voluntarily before Him; their greatest desire is to follow and obey Him.
From prison and palace, from humble hut and modern mansion they have come to Him; rich and poor, strong and weak, prince and pauper have owned Him as King. They have quietly folded their hands and with all their hearts they have asked Him to rule in their minds, wills and emotions. They have prayed Him to watch over their doings and direct their goings so that their lives may glorify Him.
Misery is multiplied for the Christian who refuses to let Christ rule in the heart. On the other hand, joy and strength increases as the Christian yields to his King. For this reason the child of God desires nothing so much as to have Christ as his ruler. It is not a case of sword and brute force subduing a person and making him bow to an imperious ruler; the exalted nature and incomparable disposition of the King has drawn the Christian into that blessed fellowship. The cross with its message of grace induces the sinner to yield to Christ. He is then transformed and made to be a member of the best and happiest band of people on earth. Distress, opposition, mockery and persecution will not frighten the Christian away from Christ; he is impelled the more urgently to seek refuge and security in Him.
The Christians who have chosen Christ as their leader in the battle against sin in their own individual lives do not stop with that; they go further and offer themselves voluntarily for service in promoting His Kingdom. Talented young men and women with prospects of a bright future among their own people in the homeland are willing to leave friends and fatherland to go to a foreign land and strange people as ambassadors of the King. They give their lives for the life of people in a heathen country, often with neither recognition nor appreciation. No one compels them to go, but the love of Christ constrains them. Their leader goes with them on this mission of peace. Where others would fear to go without the protection of guns and bayonets the missionary goes with God’s Word in his heart and hand. He carries no other sword. Relying upon Christ’s royal decree, “Lo, I am with you always”, he faces the foe courageously.
Christ is their King.
This is a large army, and it is growing every day. Divisions of it are found in nearly every land today. Wherever Christians are true to their Lord and faithful unto death they proclaim by their lives that Christ is King also here on earth.
* * *
Besides being King of His people, Christ is King over all people. We have a right to believe that on the basis of His own words, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.”
The extent of His dominion over a godless people is difficult for us short-sighted people to determine. However, it is my firm conviction that He guides our universe toward a fixed and certain goal; no one can prevent His purposes from coming to pass. The time is coming when every knee shall bow before Him and all men acknowledge Him as King.
He is King, and shall become King.
John looked into the future, even beyond our present age, and saw one seated and holding a book in His hand; the book was sealed with seven seals. Heaven and earth yearned to have the seals broken and the book opened; but no one in heaven, on earth or under the earth was able to open it. This made the apostle weep. In the midst of his weeping one came forth and said, “Weep not; behold, the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome to open the book and the seven seals thereof.” Then John saw a Lamb which appeared as though it had been slain. The Lamb took the book from the hand of Him who sat on the throne. The whole host of heaven rejoiced and fell down at the feet of the Lamb to worship Him. Now the book was to be opened.
What book is this which John saw and which only Christ can open? It is the book of human life. Everything in nature and in man was lumped together by Satan and sealed by sin. All life was bound — from the tiny blade of grass to the most gifted human being. It was this book that Christ took in His hand; in order to secure the right of opening it, He had to give His life.
Now, in this year of our Lord, He sits at the right hand of the Father with the book in His hand. As Lord of lords and King of kings He directs the races of mankind in such a way that the seals must be broken; He makes use of every passing event to open that book.
To one whose spiritual vision is faulty it may appear that Satan is the sole ruler of the world and that he is driving it toward certain destruction. However, if with the aid of the Word and the Spirit we could trace the finger of God in all that happens we should see the Savior in a triumphal march through the world and through time — right through the midst of toil and sweat and blood and tears.
Even when kingdom rises against kingdom, and millions of men moisten the earth with their heartblood — perhaps not least precisely then — the Lamb is breaking additional seals on the book which he received from Him who sat on the throne.
This is my view of the misfortunes of the world today. Perhaps some of the last bits of sealing-wax are breaking just now; God only knows, but His people face the future with hope.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
From north and south the princes meet
To pay their homage at His feet;
While western empires own their Lord,
And savage tribes attend His word.
This concept of the Kingdom of Christ has been held by Christian people in the past. It would be well for us to follow their example; there is hope, peace and power in such a faith.
* * *
The third aspect of Christ’s Kingship that I would mention is one that is still future and for which the Christian yearns with hope.
Christ is going to return to this earth!
He will return as King of kings to liberate His people entirely from sin and sorrow. It is this hope which gives the Christian courage to bear tribulation and to withstand the enticing temptations of the world. God’s Word speaks clearly and convincingly on this point.
Christ will not come in poverty and humiliation then. He will not tolerate mockery and abuse. He will not permit Himself to be judged as a criminal by gentiles and Jews and condemned to die on a cross between two robbers. He will come in power and with great glory and will Himself occupy the seat of judgment. Hosts of angels will be sent forth with sounding trumpets to gather the elect from every corner of the earth. The dead in Christ shall rise first; thereupon the living Christians shall be caught up together with them. Then we shall be with the Lord forever.
What a marvelous meeting this is going to be! The hosts of heaven shall meet the bride of Christ as she ascends to meet her heavenly bridegroom and King. Can a Christian do otherwise than to look forward to this day in fond anticipation? Just as certainly as he harbors a true faith in his bosom will he long for this day of redemption that will liberate him from bondage completely and relieve him of all misery.
It will be a serious day for all who in the day of grace turned their backs upon the Lord. Every eye shall see Him, even of those that crucified Him. There shall be great wailing on the part of the wicked then.
The tables shall be turned for those who have faithfully served Christ; they shall have a part in the glory and power of their Lord. He is now their King indeed. He will deliver the Kingdom to the Father that God might be all in all. Every tear shall be wiped away, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more. The former things are passed away.
While we are waiting for our King, let us face the future in faith and with the firm assurance that He is faithful who gave the promises. He who has given us His Word and Spirit will also give us strength to continue until the day dawns. In spite of obstacles and adversities, it is our comfort that God’s grace and power are greater than all difficulties. He will never forsake one who is faithful unto the end.
One day we shall see our Savior and King. Then we shall ascribe honor and power to His name throughout eternity, and shall sing of the Lamb that was slain forever.
Glory be to His name!
Copyright 2024 Hauge Lutheran Innermission Federation. All Rights Reserved.