|The Majesty Of a Reigning Christ|
|King Of The Ages||145||"The Truth Shall Make You Free"||151|
|Are You Looking At Life From The Right Angle?||146||None Can Remain Neutral To Christ!||152|
|Jesus Is The Lord Of History!||147||Saviour Today – Judge Tomorrow||153|
|Jesus Is The King Of The Stones!||148||Discussion Questions||154|
|Jesus' Way Is The Way To Live!||149||Discussion Questions (Continued)||155|
|"My Kingdom Is Not Of This World"||150|
King Of The Ages
We have been looking intently at the person and work of Jesus Christ. We have looked at the costliness of His lowly identification with sinful humanity (Incarnation). We have gazed at the cross and sought to understand the meaning and significance of the cross to our personal lives. We have studied the resurrection from three viewpoints–devotionally, historically, and philosophically. It is now time to turn our attention to the nature and character of Christ's kingship.
The lowly Jesus, dying on a cross, has become the exalted Christ, reigning in power with the Father. "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 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." (Philippians 2:8-11 NASB)
Wrote Paul, "Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the King of the ages, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God, and full of wisdom. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17 Living Bible) As King of the ages, it was Jesus' purpose to save humanity. "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9 Living Bible)
"Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault–we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!" (Ephesians 1:4-5 Living Bible)
From everlasting to everlasting, Jesus has been king, and the central purpose of His kingship has been to redeem many subjects unto Himself, and to love those subjects as a part of His eternal kingdom. "In him we were chosen. Moreover, because of what Christ has done we have become gifts to God that he delights in, for as part of God's sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be his, and all things happen just as he decided long ago." (Ephesians 1:11 Living Bible)
"O God, how amazing is your plan of salvation! Christ's life, death, resurrection, ascension, and kingly reign–all are for me! How can I reject such love? I will bow my knees and confess with my lips that you are Lord of lords!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What Christ purposed for me in eternity, I will allow Him to do for me in time–save me!
Are You Looking At Life From The Right Angle?
From all eternity, Jesus has been 'King of the ages.' In time, Jesus remains as the king. But earth is filled with earthly sovereigns. How does Jesus compare with earth's powerful kings? His position may be challenged by the evil tyrants of earth, but Jesus continues to reign.
Jesus is rightly called "King of Kings.' This title acknowledges His eternal and continuing sovereignty in the midst of earthly kings. As King of kings, Jesus' power is incredibly great, and all other rulers, whether they acknowledge it or not, are totally subordinate to Christ. Writes Paul, "I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in heaven, far, far above any other king or ruler or dictator or leader. Yes, his honor is far more glorious than that of anyone else either in this world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under his feet and made him the supreme head of the church–which is his body, filled with himself, the author and giver of everything everywhere." (Ephesians 1:19-23 Living Bible)
When my youngest daughter was only four years old, one day she said to me: "God has a whole bunch of power. He has so many people to take care of." Yes, God is so big that He can rule the universe, and yet so loving that He can care infinitely for every person!
God is sovereign over the entire world–even the world of evil men. The modern-day poster motto expresses faith in a faithful God who still rules in a world seemingly out of control: 'God Has Everything Under Control.'
"This is my Father's world, And to my listening ears, That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world; The battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heaven be one."
Have you ever observed that kind of special picture which has two pictures within one frame? Looking from one angle the picture reveals Christ on the cross, suffering for lost humanity, an apparent defeat. But move a short distance and look at the picture from another angle and the picture is no longer the crucified Christ, but rather the picture now reveals the resurrected, ascended Lord, accompanied by two angels, going up into glory with all the power of heaven and earth at His disposal. From which angle are you looking at life? Do you see only suffering, or do you see victory over suffering and sin, as you view the resurrected Lord from the proper angle? Are you looking at life from the right angle?
"God, I gladly acknowledge what you have declared: The crown of thorns has been replaced by the crown of glory! Jesus reigns; I will serve!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is Ruler yet!"
Jesus Is The Lord Of History!
As King of kings, Jesus has sovereign control over all the kings of the earth. "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes." (Proverbs 21:1 NASB)
Concerning Jesus, Isaiah wrote: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (Isaiah 9:7)
"When the renowned artist, Dannecker, was requested by Napoleon to make a painting of Venus for the Louvre, he declined even though an enormous sum was offered. The emperor's anger was stirred and he demanded an explanation. The painter answered simply: 'I have painted Christ, and I can never lower my brush to paint an inferior subject.'" (Shoe-Leather Faith; Merv Rosell; No. 27)
Jesus is the God of all gods. He alone is worthy to reign. He stands as King of kings. E. Stanley Jones, that great veteran missionary, went around the world introducing the sign of Jesus' Lordship; namely, three fingers pointing upward, which stands for 'Jesus is Lord.'
The Bible says that all men will someday bow the knees to Jesus and confess with the tongue that 'Jesus is Lord.' All men will either voluntarily or involuntarily give to Jesus His rightful place which is His inherently–Sovereign Lord!
Said Napoleon, the great military victor: "If Socrates would enter the room we should rise and do him honor. But if Jesus Christ came into the room we should fall down on our knees and worship Him."
It is Jesus who divides all of history in BC and AD. Jesus stands at the center of time and gives meaning to the whole. Pagan religions make no sense out of history, but believe history endlessly and regularly repeats itself in eternal cycles. To them, history is going nowhere. But Jesus gives meaning to history, for Jesus is the lord of history. History is going somewhere. History has a purpose and a plan and a destiny. History was divided into BC and AD because of Jesus' first coming. History will find its fulfillment and consummation when Jesus comes the second time!
"Stanley Jones said the awful events of earth did not disturb him because he knew 'how it would all come out.'… The genuine Christian, in his depths, is not at sixes and sevens, for he knows that history has a goal divinely determined and that, whatever happens, Almighty God is moving redemptively to that great and grand goal." (The Minister's Ministries; pg. 20; Donald Demaray)
"God, help me gladly give to Jesus the same place in my life which He inherently possesses in the universe–Lordship!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus is not one 'great' in a class of "greats"; Jesus is the incomparable one!
Jesus Is The King Of The Stones!
Jesus is 'King of the Ages' eternally. Jesus is 'Lord of History' in time. Jesus is also 'King of Life'–physical life and human life.
On Palm Sunday, the disciples were praising and worshipping Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. "And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Luke 19:39,40)
Jesus is King of the stones! The very stones are subject to Jesus and are made to praise Jesus as King of earth and creation! Because Jesus is king of nature, "the Christian way is written into the very structure of the universe." (The Divine Yes; E. Stanley Jones; pg. 48)
All of nature is created by God and for God. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein… Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." (Psalms 24:1,10)
As one poet wrote, "Earth's crammed with Heaven; and every common Bush afire with God."
The Universe belongs to God and will be redeemed by God from the effects which sin has had upon it. The universe is at the command of God. It is subject to Christ, the King. The universe is the friend of God, and is constantly singing praises to God. Barclay notes that if a man sins against God there is a sense in which the whole universe becomes his enemy.
Christ is not only king of physical life, but He is also King of human life. Both physical life and human life are made by God and for God.
Christ is king of human life for Christ's way "is written into living tissues–nerves, arteries, organs, cells." (Ibid; E. Stanley Jones; pg. 48) Christ is king, for He has His claim upon every human being in the very constitution of the physical body! Therefore, going against God is going against oneself! To go against God is to go against the very grain of human make-up! "A pastor's brilliant son, a personal man in a great corporation, told his father: 'I'm trying hard to be an atheist, but I'm having a time of it!'" (Conversion; E. Stanley Jones; pg. 20) It is hard to go against God, for when one goes against God he is going against himself. Man is made by God and for God, and to go against God is to go against the very purpose of one's existence!
"O God, you have your stamp of ownership on me–in my mind, in my body, in my spirit! To reject you is to reject myself! To accept you is to find myself! Glory!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To sin against Christ is to sin against myself. To bow to Christ's Lordship is to stand tall before everything else!
Acts 9:1-6; Acts 26;9-18
Jesus' Way Is The Way To Live!
If you won't live for God, you can't live with yourself! Man is restless until he rests in God. Just as the lungs are made for the air, the stomach for food, and the eyes for beauty, so your soul is made for God. There is within you a God-shaped vacuum which can only be satisfied when filled with God. The soul that is in God is the soul that feels 'at home' with himself. Christ is your native land!
"A little boy was found weeping. They asked him what was the matter. He said 'I've been playing hookey all day from school, and I just found out this is Saturday!' So when playing hookey against the Way of the Kingdom you play hookey against yourself." (The Divine Yes; E. Stanley Jones; pg. 49)
"The whole idea that the Christian Way is the hard way is totally wrong. It is the other way that is the hard way. A man came to Sam Jones, the evangelist, and said, 'I only know one verse of Scripture, and I know the one verse is true. It is, "The way of the transgressor is hard. II I know this is true!' Yes, the idea that the Christian way is hard is all wrong. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, for his yoke is your yearning and his burden is your blessing. When you find him, you find yourself. The laws of your being are the laws of the Way. The Kingdom of Heaven, the Way, is within you and is the thing for which you are made, and therefore, when you find him, you find yourself. There is more joy to the square inch in being his than there is to the square mile in the outside world of rebellion." (Ibid; pg. 50)
"A surgeon said: 'I have discovered the Kingdom of God at the end of my scalpel. It is in the tissues. The right thing morally is always the healthy thing physically.'" (Ibid; pg. 50)
"If you are a Christian, a real one, you are a wise man. And if you are not, you are a fool, fooling yourself by sinning against your own being, against your own happiness." (Ibid; pg. 52)
You are made for God. Your destiny is stamped upon you by God. The way of the transgressor is hard! Running from God, you are running from yourself. Rebelling against God, you are rebelling against yourself. Estranged from God, you are estranged from yourself. Unwillingness to live for God is inability to live with yourself. To come to God is to come to yourself. To surrender yourself to Christ is to find yourself.
"God, I am now realizing that the Christian Way is the way to live! It is hard to 'kick against the pricks.' It is hard 'to spit into the wind.' Surrendering to You, I surrender to Life!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I am 'out of sorts' with God, then I am 'out of sorts' with myself!
John 18:33-37; Matthew 26:52
"My Kingdom Is Not Of This World"
At His trial, Jesus was asked by Pilate, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36 NASB)
To understand the character of Jesus' kingdom, one must understand something about the popular Jewish expectations regarding the coming Messiah, which Jesus encountered when He came into the world. At the time Christ came into the world, the Jews were a subject people under the dominion of the Romans. The popular talk among the Jews was conversation concerning the coming of the messiah.
The formulation of the Messianic concept was brought about through the wistful longings of the Israelite people during the dark days of their nation's decline, many centuries before the time of Christ. The Jews wistfully longed for a king who would reign like King David. David was Israel's greatest king and it was David who reigned during the Golden Age of Israel's history. David was idolized as the ideal king who gave Israel military, political, material, and spiritual success. Ever after the time of David, the Jews looked back upon his age as the ideal age, and upon David as the ideal king.
At the time of Christ, the Jews expected God to send a Messiah whose power would be in the sword, whose genius would be in military organization, and whose glory would be in the destruction of the Roman army. The Jews expected the Messiah to establish his kingdom on the earth, with Jerusalem as his headquarters. The Messiah would be David incarnate. The borders of Israel would be expanded more than ever before, and all nations would bow in servitude to Israel. The Messiah would usher in an age of unprecedented power and prosperity for Israel.
Jesus shattered the popular Jewish Messianic expectations! Jesus' kingship or Messiahship was characterized not by hate but by love. Jesus' power as the Messiah would not be in terms of military power, but quite the contrary–it would be in terms of the power of love which would find its expression in the experience of suffering and sacrifice. Jesus came to show the true meaning of Messiahship. The Messiah must suffer, not seek revenge. The Messiah must love, not hate. The Messiah must save, not conquer. The Messiah must rule by love in the hearts of men, not rule by hate over the Jews' earthly enemies. Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. It is eternal!
"God, you are shattering my false conceptions! You come, not with a sword, but with a cross. You rule, not with the coercion of force, but with the compulsion of love. You come, not to destroy your enemies, but to save your enemies! What a King! A King of Love!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who 'takes the sword shall die by the sword.' He who lives by mercy shall receive mercy!
"The Truth Shall Make You Free"
Jesus taught that the Messiah's kingdom would be established, not on the foundation of military force and arms, but on the foundation of suffering and sacrifice. When Jesus came into Jerusalem, the crowds cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!" Barclay notes that "Hosanna" means "Save Now!" and it was the cry for help which a people in distress addressed to their king or their god. (Daily Study Bible; Matthew; Vol. 2; pg. 264) The crowd on Palm Sunday addressed Jesus as the Son of David which was a Messianic title. The excitement of the Jews was great as they hailed the long-expected king. When they cried out, "Hosanna in the highest!" they must have meant, "Let even the angels in the highest heights of heaven cry unto God, Save Now!"
Modern man would quickly welcome Jesus today if He would only promise to change society and establish an era of peace and prosperity. Many Americans would doubtless follow Jesus today if He would destroy our enemies, eliminate our slums, fill our bank accounts, deal with our energy crisis, do away with our national debt, and destroy all diseases. Men today, who have such a shallow understanding of Christ's mission, are ready to cry "Hosanna!" – "Save Now!" People want to be saved from anything unpleasant or undesirable. However, when Christ offers suffering, sacrifice, a cross, and possible death, the popular cry of the crowd is no longer "Hosanna!" but "Crucify Him!"
Jesus came not to give political freedom to the Jews, but rather to give spiritual freedom to all mankind. Throughout Jesus' public ministry He refused to become an earthly revolutionary leader. The people attempted to make him a king, but Jesus refused. John records the following incident in Jesus' public ministry: "Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself." (John 6:15)
Jesus well knew that it is possible for a man to be free physically and politically and yet to be a slave to self, to passion, to pride, and to falsehood. Jesus could point to the Romans who, while enjoying prosperity and politica1 freedom and power, were yet slaves to idolatry, hate, and suspicion. Jesus came to give spiritual freedom. Jesus said, "every man who loves truth recognizes my voice." (John 18:37) True freedom comes through the truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
"O Thou King of Love, rule over my heart! Release my spirit from the prison of sin. Give me real freedom–freedom from my guilts, fears, hates, and prejudice!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If the Son makes me free, I shall be free indeed! (John 8:36)
John 18:28-32, John 18:38-40; John 19:1-15
None Can Remain Neutral To Christ!
Christ's kingship is powerful, but not militarily powerful. Christ is powerful as king because He calls every man to make a moral decision. None can remain neutral to Christ! All must either accept or reject His kingship!
Barclay notes various ways in which Pilate sought to avoid any personal decision regarding Christ.
Pilate first tried to put the responsibility for handling Jesus on someone else. Pilate said to the Jews when they brought Jesus to him, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law." (John 18:31) But this didn't work. The Jews replied to Pilate, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." (John 18:31) No man can evade personal responsibility in dealing with Jesus! The question is asked each man, "What will ye do with Jesus?" Each man must answer that question for himself.
Pilate then tried to engineer Christ's release by appealing to the custom of releasing a prisoner. Pilate's attempt failed when the crowd asked for Barabbas' release instead of Jesus' release. This shows that no man can resort to the world or to a group to make his decision for him regarding Christ. The world is hostile to Christ and is still crying out, "Crucify Him!" Each person must decide for himself, either to accept or to reject the Saviour.
Pilate tried the way of compromise. Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus, and thought that the mob would surely be moved to pity if they saw Jesus scourged. But Pilate's attempt at compromise–seeking to satisfy the Jews by scourging Jesus instead of crucifying him–did not work. When Pilate brought Jesus before the Jews again, the Jews cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him." (John 19:6) Compromise won't work. Pilate had outrightly to decide either to crucify Jesus or to release Jesus. The decision was that explicit. As in the case of Pilate, each person today must also outrightly decide whether to accept Christ or to reject Christ.
Jesus is king. His kingship demands a moral verdict from every man. Jesus divides all men into one of two categories–those who accept Christ and those who reject Christ. Jesus said that anyone who was not for Him was against Him! Every man is either a child of the light or a child of the darkness. Every man must either respond to the truth or harden his heart to the truth. Every man must either choose Barabbas, who represents hate and violence, or Jesus, who represents love and peace. "Choose ye this day whom you will serve!"
"O Thou King of kings, I see that your kingdom is universal! By right of creation and by right of the cross, you have a claim on every person! Your claim comes in the form of a call of love. How can I reject love?"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God's personal 'Love call' in my life is my opportunity to live by Love!
Saviour Today – Judge Tomorrow
It is possible that the last action of Pilate in regards to Jesus is the most dramatic act and the act that is filled with the most irony. Pilate "brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement… it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, 'Behold your King!'" (John 19:13-14 NASB) This passage possibly "means that Pilate with one last mocking gesture brought Jesus out, clad in the terrible finery of the old purple robe and with His forehead girt with the crown of thorns and the drops of blood the thorns had wakened, and set Him in the judgment seat, and with a wave of his hand said: 'Am I to crucify your king?"… It may be said that Pilate jestingly caricatured Jesus as judge. If that is so, if Pilate really set Jesus in the judgment seat to make a fool of Jesus, what dramatic irony is there. That which was a mockery was the truth. And one day those who had mocked Jesus as judge would meet Him as judge–and would remember." (Daily Study Bible; John; Vol. 2; pg. 287; Barclay)
"When he was a young man, Judge Warren Candler practiced law. One of his clients was charged with murder, and the young lawyer made the utmost effort to clear his client of the charge. There were some extenuating circumstances and the lawyer made the most of them in his plea before the jury. Moreover, there were present in the court the aged father and mother of the man charged with murder; and the young lawyer worked on the sympathies and emotions of the jury by frequent references to the God-fearing parents. In due course, the jury retired for deliberation. When they had reached a verdict, they returned to the jury box. Their verdict read: 'We find the defendant not guilty.' The young lawyer, himself a Christian, had a serious talk with his cleared client. He warned him to steer clear of evil ways and to trust God's power to keep him straight. Years passed. Again the man was brought into court. Again the charge was murder. The lawyer who had defended him at his first trial was now the judge on the bench. At the conclusion' of the trial, the jury rendered its verdict as 'Guilty.' Ordering the condemned man to stand for sentencing, Judge Candler said, 'At your first trial, I was your lawyer , today I am your judge. The verdict of the jury makes it mandatory for me to sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you are dead.' Today Christ is our lawyer, our Saviour, willing to forgive and to cleanse and forget. However, there is coming a fearful day when He will be our judge." (World Aflame; pg. 244-245; Billy Graham)
God "hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." (Acts 17:31)
"The question in time is: 'What shall I do with Jesus?' The question in eternity will be: 'What will God do with me?' Jesus, I do not ask for justice, but I plead for mercy. I do not want what I deserve–judgment– but I want what you offer–forgiveness!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Who I follow in this life will determine where I go hereafter!
Discussion Questions On 'The Majesty Of A Reigning Christ'
What does Philippians 2:8-11 teach us regarding the relationship between Christ's humiliation and exaltation?
As King of the Ages, what has always been Christ's central purpose of His kingship? (Note 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4-5)
How is the glory of Christ described in Ephesians 1:19-23, and how is that power described which made possible Christ's exaltant glory?
What are two different angles from which a person can look at life, and what are the different conclusions one will draw, depending upon the angle from which he views life?
What is the difference between a Christian philosophy of history and a pagan philosophy of history?
Why did Stanley Jones say the awful events of history did not disturb him?
Describe what is meant by the phrase: "Jesus is King of the stones!"
Discuss what is meant by the statement: "If a man sins against God there is a sense in which the whole universe becomes his enemy."
What evidence can you point to that demonstrates the fact that Christ is the King of the physical body and human life?
Do you agree with the following statement? "If you won't live for God, you can't live with yourself!" (Why or why not?)
What evidence is there (from personal experience or from personal observation) that the following scriptural statement is true: "The way of the transgressor is hard."
Share your personal insights into E. Stanley Jones' statement: "The idea that the Christian way is hard is all wrong. His (Jesus') yoke is easy and his burden is light, for his yoke is your yearning and his burden is your blessing."
From your personal observation and experience, can you share evidence to validate the truth of the following statement, made by a surgeon: "The right thing morally is always the healthy thing physically."
What kind of 'Messiah' did the Jews of Jesus' time expect God to send to earth, and upon what primary ancient model did these Jews build their Messianic concepts?
Describe the main features of Jesus' Messianic concepts, both as He taught them and as He personified them (in contrast to the popular Jewish Messianic concepts).
Discussion Questions On 'The Majesty Of A Reigning Christ' (Cont.)
What was the meaning of the popular cry of the people on the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on 'Palm Sunday,' and how are the popular expectations of people in our modern day similar to the popular expectations of the people of Jesus' day who cried 'Hosanna'?
What is the freedom which Christ (as King) promises to all who follow Him? What are some of the misconceptions which people have today regarding the benefits of accepting Jesus? Will following Christ always result in physical, financial, or political freedom?
What is the essence of Christ's power, as King?
Note several ways in which Pilate sought to avoid any personal decision regarding Christ. How do Pilate's reactions remind you of modern-day man's various indecisive reactions towards Jesus?
Is there any grounds for moral neutrality in the light of Jesus' moral demands? Why or why not? What implications does the 'Lordship of Christ' have for you personally?
If the role of Christ on earth during Time is 'Saviour,' what will be the role of Christ at the End of Time?
Cite scriptural justification for the following strong statement: "He who spurns God's mercy on earth will surely reap God's fiery judgment in eternity!"
Is it both logical and scriptural to say that every person determines his own eternal destiny? Discuss the validity of the following statement: "Who I follow in this life will determine where I go hereafter."