In a previous article a case was made to show that when Jesus came on that great Christmas day he came with his kingdom. Why is this important for us to understand? Because this is what the Bible teaches and what it teaches has great implications for us.
Jesus did not accidentally stumble upon the idea that he would become a king. Jesus was not made a king (Jn. 6:15) by people only to die at the hands of the local authorities. Jesus did not come to die, be raised again and then wait to bring a kingdom at some distant point in time. As Matthew’s Good News points out, Jesus was born a king, lived his life as one who systematically unveiled his kingdom, died a king, and will return as the final Prince of Peace and Mighty God. The big theme in Matthew is the Kingdom of God according to Jesus (Matt. 4:23). Our response is to turn around and embrace his kingdom that is here and now (Matt. 3:2).
The New Testament Good News according to Mark is about the profound and powerful teachings of Jesus as the Man-King and Servant-King, the real Israelite who embodied and expressed the power of God. That is because Jesus was the only God-King’s Son (Mark 1:11; 2:10, 28; 3:11; etc.). This mighty Ruler was the Promised One whose kingdom would embrace, not only faith-filled Jews but also non-Jews who confessed Jesus as Lord (Mk. 15:39).
Luke’s narrative is about Jesus, the Savior-King who lavishes love upon the needy and neglected people. This was God’s indictment against the wicked kings of Israel who violated God’s demands to do justice, love mercy and care for the poor, the widows, and orphans. He, in turn, receives the praise and songs of joy fitting only for his majesty (Lk. 1:46-55; 1:68-79; 2:14, etc.).
John’s Gospel is written to demonstrate that Jesus Christ fulfills all of the Old Testament signs and types of all things central to God’s kingdom. Jesus is the true Messiah (anointed Savior-King) who has come to fulfill God’s covenantal promise: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Jesus is the God-King who comes down to dwell with his people (Jn. 1:14). He is the perfect Israel, a fitting name since it means something like “God rules” or “one who prevails with God” or “God’s Prince.” Israel was to be God’s vine spreading into the world to provide nourishment and blessing. Jesus is the true Vine (Jn. 15:1-11). This true Israel comes to do what the people of Israel failed to do. John also says Jesus is Son of Man, a term for Messiah (Jn. 1:5; Jn. 3:14; 8:28; 12:32).
Jesus is also the Great “I AM,” meaning he claimed to be the same as the Old Testament God (Jn. 6:35, 38; Jn. 8:12, 24; 13:19; 15:1,5). Like a good king (Deut. 17) he speaks with authority that comes only from God. Any real king after God’s own heart was a true Shepherd of God’s people and a light to God’s people (2 Sam. 21:17; 1 Kings 11:36; 15:4; 2 Chron. 21:7) calling them out of darkness into light (Jn. 10). He calls out because he is God’s voice (Jn. 1:1-3) who has all authority, power and control with creative and recreative might over the world of chaos (storms, deformity, demon possession, sickness, wickedness, etc.) The Jews of Jesus day understood that God’s Word was the Torah. John is saying that King Jesus is the perfect Torah. They claimed that the Torah was the only eternal Word (Jn. 1:1), coming from the very bosom of the Father (Jn. 1:1, 18), that was the real bread for life (Jn. 6:35), which radiated light (Jn. 1:4-5; Jn. 8:12) upon the way of genuine life in God (Jn. 14:6).
John’s narrative is like a slow unveiling of who Jesus really is: God. The author paints a picture of Jesus who is anointed by God himself (Jn. 1:32-34), to lead his people through the requirements for purity into the very presence of our glorious God (Jn. 1:16). The High Priest acted on behalf of God’s people to reconcile them to God in a once-a-year ritual of cleansing. John is written in a series of dramatic scenes to show how Jesus fulfilled each step of cleansing before entering the inner chamber where God himself sat on his throne:
- At the huge wash basin the priest began the service by washing himself and the sacrifices he was going to make. Jesus, the only High Priest with a pure heart does this (Jn. 1:29-34). He is the one who washes perfectly (Jn. 2:1-11; 13-25; Jn. 3:22-36; Jn. 4 and 5). His washing makes you perfectly clean (Jn. 13:5-11).
- The Priest walked by the Table of Bread a symbol of God’s life-giving sustenance. As the real Manna from Heaven (Ex. 16:31-35), Jesus feeds the 5000 (John 6) declaring he is the Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35).
- In the Temple was the Lampstand (Ex. 25:31-40; Num. 8:1-4) that symbolized God’s eternal light (Ex. 27:20); the beacon that signaled where he is and the lamp that revealed the true way of righteousness. Baby Jesus was a tiny little tent in whom was the Shekinah glory (Ex. 16:10; Ex. 24:16), the radiant essence of God (Jn. 1:4-6; Jn. 8:12). He is the Light people follow to get to the Promised Kingdom. Jesus is the Light of the world (Jn. 8). His power heals the blind so they might see (Jn 9) and raises the dead out of darkness into the light (Jn. 11). As rightful King he declares that those who do not follow him are blind because they are not true sons of the Light (Jn.12:35-41).
- The high priest goes to the altar of incense to offer up sacrificial prayers on behalf of God’s people. So does Jesus (Jn. 17).
- The Priest sacrifices the animal outside of the Temple and brings its life-blood into God’s throne room to present it at God’s footstool (Lev. 16:15). The footstool is called the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus is taken outside of the Temple area, recognized as king by the Roman Empire’s representative governor (Jn. 19:19-22) , and sacrificed upon the cross (Jn. 19:23-30). His sacrifice is taken to heaven and accepted by the Father (Heb. 9:7; Heb. 9:23-26).
- When Mary went to the tomb where the King’s body was placed, she peered in and saw the swaddling clothes lying upon the bench and an angel sitting on each end of the bench (Jn. 20:11-12). It was the living display of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:10-16). Jesus’s dead body had been placed at the feet of God, but God raised him up to sit upon his throne to rule forever (Eph. 1:19-23).
Toward the end of John’s awesome drama we see King Jesus back where it all started: as God’s creative Word (Jn. 1:1-5). Like God did in Genesis 2:7 Jesus breathes life into his new people (Jn. 21:15-17).
All four histories of the New Testament present different perspectives of the fact that the kingdom package was included with baby Jesus. In short, Jesus is not only the King, he is also God’s Kingdom!
So, what shall we do about this? Believe in this King and then “…since we are now receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28). At this Christmas let us come to adore Christ the Lord with reverence and godly fear.
For the King of Kings;
All hail King Jesus
All hail Emmanuel
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Bright Morning Star
And throughout eternity
I’ll sing Your Praises
And I’ll reign with You throughout eternity.