Jesus Christ -- Our Great King!
From the records, we can read of numerous kings that have lived and reigned from different periods of time, from various cultures, and through wide stretches of our world's history. Kings, who for many people, had been as common as the rising and the setting of the sun or the incoming and outgoing of the tides. Israel and Judah, for example, certainly had their share of kings to lead them down life's path; but sometimes making that a treacherous course for them, due to their own ungodly leadership, such as in the case of Jeroboam and all the kings of Israel who were similar. Not one of those kings were considered good, though the southern kingdom of Judah had several who were noteworthy rulers whom we can be encouraged by for their noble and valorous stand for godly principles, their efforts that brought about moral reform and restoration to the ways of the Lord, and the positive influence they had on their people. In thinking of these, perhaps men like David, during his early period, and Solomon when he was first starting out, come to mind. Or maybe also Hezekiah and Asa who were two of the best kings of Judah. But in today's article, let us take the time to think about the greatest king of all -- and one who is prophesied in the OT -- and whom the Bible refers to as being the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:16): Jesus Christ.
In Zechariah 9:9,10, the prophesy is given: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth."
"He is just and endowed with salvation." Who could be more just than the Son of God? In the Scriptures, the term "just" denotes "fair" and "righteous"; and we think of Jesus as one who always dealt fairly with everyone. He was not swayed by partiality (Rom. 2:11), by bribery, by peer pressure, nor by any other dissuasive influence; for the very fact that He was "righteous" indicates that he always "did right," as also brought out in John 8:29: "...He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." His judgments were "righteous judgments," based on the standard of His Father's word (John 7:24), as ours also must be; and as He rules from His throne, it is a "righteous scepter" that is "the scepter of His kingdom" (Heb. 1:8); for He is "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 Jn. 2:1). And "righteousness" also describes a way of life: holiness put into practice (cf. 1 Jn. 3:7).
To be "endowed" is to be provided, furnished, or equipped with; and when it comes to salvation, that can be found in no other but Jesus (Acts 4:10-12). Christ is not merely one who points the way to salvation -- He is that way, that truth, and that life! (See John 14:6.) It is only by being in Christ that one can be a "new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17), be a part of the family of God (Gal. 3:26,27), be freed from condemnation (Rom. 8:1), serve as a faithful servant of the Lord (Jn. 15:4-6), and have "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:30). Jesus is our salvation! And that is what His very name signifies. But the term "name" also means so much more; for it is a word used to stand for a person's character, his moral worth or lack thereof. Note what the Bible continues to state about Christ's name: "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
As great as Christ was and is, He is also characterized with humility, as seen in Zechariah 9: "humble and mounted on a donkey." There was no arrogance that exuded from Him. The fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy is seen in Matthew 21:1-9, in which the Lord is depicted as being "meek" (v. 5). The Greek word for this term is translated as "gentle" in the New American Standard Bible -- and in several other verses. For instance, it is the same Greek word in Matthew 11:29, in which Jesus urges all those who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him, to take His yoke and learn from Him, for He is "gentle and humble in heart"; and by their doing so, they shall find rest for their souls. Though the secondary definition of meekness, in a modern dictionary, is "spiritless" or "tame"; its primary definition is "humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others." Bullinger defines the Greek word as "meek, gentle, enduring all things with an even temper, tender, free from haughty self-sufficiency, tender of spirit...is rather the exhibition of that tenderness in bearing with others" (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, p. 492). To think of Christ's meekness is to think of how well controlled He was. He has the eternal power to create the universe and to destroy it, yet when He was being mocked, humiliated, and tortured to death, He remained meek. "...while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23). Keeping all that power under control, to the point that He could willingly yield to a most excruciating torment, without trying to strike back or alleviate the pain (such as in calling on "twelve legions of angels," Matt. 26:53), and even while mercifully praying for those who were insulting Him (Luke 23:34), is all a demonstration of our Lord's meekness and gentleness.
Zechariah foretold that Jesus would "speak peace unto the heathen" (King James Version). The NASB translates this last term as "nations." To the Jew of that period, anyone who was not also a Jew was a heathen; and they, therefore, didn't have much to do with them. Christ, however, brought a message of peace to the Gentiles, as well. Though His primary mission, while on earth, was to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24), He still dealt with those who were not of Israel. This we see in John 4 with the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan, so even looked down upon more so than a Gentile by the Jew; and she knew that the "Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (v. 9). But Christ's mission on earth would ultimately be for the benefit of all mankind. As God had told Abraham, so many hundreds of years prior, "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed...." (Gen. 22:18). Paul clearly shows that this "seed" promise pertains to Jesus (Gal. 3:16,19). This is also what Peter meant, whether he fully realized it or not, when he spoke of the blessings that would be made available in Christ: that "the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off..." (Acts 2:39). The "all who are far off" includes the Gentiles.
As Zechariah's prophecy went on to show, concerning the vastness of the Lord's rule: "And His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth" (9:10). Christ's reign is universal. It is even over the atheist. Though there are some who are of the persuasion that the alien sinner (one who has never become a Christian) is not subject to the laws of the kingdom, God's word continues to show that non-believers can be guilty of violating those laws -- even before they become Christians. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, for example, Paul enumerates several specific sins that the Corinthians had formerly been guilty of, prior to their conversion; but now they had repented of those things and were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord. The point is: They could not have been previously guilty of those transgressions, unless the law of the kingdom also pertains to non-believers. So, undoubtedly it does; as Paul also shows in Romans 4:15, "...for where no law is, there is no transgression." The fact that down through the years, people who have reached an age of accountability have become sinners, indicates that they had been subject to a law of God that they violated. John tells us that "...sin is the transgression of the law" (1 Jn. 3:4).
Because Christ is King, He is also the lawgiver. As He states in John 12:48, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." Christ's words are laws of the kingdom. And, again, we are made aware that all mankind must give allegiance to the New Testament -- for its laws are binding on all.
Many people today wrongly view Christ as being a king without a kingdom. They tell us that He won't have one until He returns to set one up in the millennium. Even if this future "earthly kingdom" were true, would those who would be in it be any more special than those in God's church today? Peter writes, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Pet. 2:9,10). How could a people be any more special unto the Lord than to simply be the people of God who are in the church of the Lord?
Christians, however, are in the kingdom -- right now! John the apostle testified toward this in Revelation 1:9, "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus...." In addition, Paul informed the Colossians that God "...delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). And since Christ is ruling as a King, at this moment, how could He do that without a kingdom to rule over?
To the contrary of the belief of the Premillennialist, when Christ returns, it won't be to set up a kingdom; rather, it will be to deliver the kingdom to the Father, as Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15:24,25: "then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet."
Though our premillennial friends speak about a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ, the Bible shows that Jesus has been reigning since the time of His ascension -- so almost 2,000 years now!
Note the prophecy in Daniel 7:13,14 of the Lord's ascension and what He received at that time from His Father in heaven: "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed."
We can also infer from this that if Christ's kingdom has not yet come then we who are Gentiles cannot serve Him yet. For to Christ was "given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him."
Psalm 2:6,7 prophesies of Christ's resurrection and being made King of kings: "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, `Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee."' In Acts 13:30-38, we find this phrase of being "begotten," and the day it pertains to, being used figuratively to refer to the resurrection of Christ. Paul states, "And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, `Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.' And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: `I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David'" (vv. 32-34).
Many kings, down through time, have been outright cruel and barbarous toward their own subjects; but this certainly can't be said about Jesus. As we alluded to earlier: Christ has given the great invitation for all who are weary and heavy-laden to come unto Him because He is "gentle and humble" and will give rest to them through their compliance with His word. How many kings of old would have given their lives for their people -- or would have made just half the sacrifices that Jesus made for even those who were His enemies? In Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper," the young prince traded places with a poor young boy. What a switch! In seconds, the prince became a pauper, dressed in rags, and began to live the life of such. This trading of places, however, does not even come close to what happened when Jesus left the glories of heaven in order to become a servant among men (Phil. 2) and die that humiliating and painful death upon the cross, while mocked and reviled by the onlookers. The Bible says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). The Lord gave all He could for us -- even His very life!
If people long ago had to be in subjection to their earthly kings, then how much more do we need to submit to the King of kings and Lord of lords?! And how much more should we want to, realizing who the Lord really is, how much He loved us, and how good He can be for us throughout eternity?
Christ is not a tyrant, in the sense of being oppressive or unjust. If you want to become one of His loyal subjects, you must willingly submit your life to His rule by your faith and obedience to the gospel. If you haven't done this yet, then why not become a part of His eternal kingdom today -- and let Jesus be king on the throne of your heart!
By Tom Edwards
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