So begins the post-Christmas tradition for many. It is time to put the baby king away. The pageantry and celebration of little baby Jesus is quickly fading. It is time to scurry about, pack up all the decorations and ornaments, and put baby Jesus away along with the stable, manger, cow, sheep, camel, shepherds, three wise men, Mary and Joseph. All of the accessories that comes with baby King Jesus is boxed up and stored where ever one can find room.
Sometimes I wonder if we do that to the real Jesus? Not that we could truly box him up and put him away, but do we do that mentally or spiritually? For some of us it is a great temptation to think of Jesus as the infant, so tender and mild; so inoffensive and innocent. A cherubic child, perfectly pretty, never needy and never demanding. He’s just there in all his smiling cuteness. And we get to put him away.
That, however, is not the Jesus of history. The original Christmas event played itself out, slowly but powerfully unveiling this wrapped little king for who is really was. In between the wrapping of swaddling cloths of his birth and the wrapping of burial linens at his death, Jesus exposes himself as the king over all kings, the lord over all lords, the benevolent dictator, the universal emperor, the undefeated general of heavenly armies who is tender but offensive, never needy but always demanding. Yes, we received this kid, yet earth received her king! And he won’t be put away.
As I wrote in a previous post, when Jesus came he came as the King and he brought with him his predicted kingdom. When Jesus came his kingdom was in him (see the other article posted earlier). Jesus the savior-king is the personification of God’s kingdom since in him, with him, and for him is his kingdom (Mark 2:10).
What kind of a Kingdom did King Jesus bring at Christmas?
1. It is a national kingdom
Not the kind of national kingdom the world has ever known. Instead, it is made up of all peoples from all other people groups, forming a citizenry of God’s own children (Acts 2; Acts 5:36-37; Acts 12:38; Rev. 7:9).
2. It is a powerful kingdom
It has the power of the Creator God, which brings life out of nothing (John 1:1-3; 1 Cor, 8:6; Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Jn. 1:2). It is the power of miracles, healing, signs, and wonders (Luke 8:25; Acts 10:38; Rom. 1:4). In it is the power of the resurrection – power of life over death in a world where there is the power of death over life (Eph. 1:19-23; Heb. 2). It is a power that will eventually conquer all other kingdoms (Psa. 99:1-4; Psa. 103:19; Isa. 9:6-7; Zec. 9:10; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:22). This King has a kingdom of power that is from the almighty God himself (Matt. 28:18; Luke 22:69; Rev. 5:12). In fact, when Luke speaks of “the visitation of God” (Luke 1:68, 78; Luke 7:11-17) he is using Old Testament code words for God’s future kingdom.
3. It is a revolutionary kingdom
His kingdom is revolutionary in the sense that it brings about a reversal of sin, evil, and wickedness. Satan’s devious temptation to which Adam surrendered caused a cataclysmic reversal of God’s paradise kingdom on earth. Yet King Jesus brought a radical transformation of our existing situation (Lk 1:46-55). Therefore, his growing kingdom is at work reversing this unnatural order of things.
Jesus’ work and ministry were revolutionary (Matt. 8-10) because his words and deeds were divine (Luke 7:11-17) interventions that turned life right side up. He stepped into the realm of evil and darkness teaching and healing, preaching and restoring, and making an impact on the spiritual, ethical and physical areas of life.
When Jesus came into the human scene it caused a spiritual tsunami in the spiritual world, with on-going ripple effects the powers of darkness can never hold back. In a way, the God-Man initially came by stealth. As he launched his kingdom ministry he did so coming to do great battle. His resurrection was the spiritual D-Day (the day on which God’s invasion of the dark world began) that will eventually lead to the perfect V-Day (complete day of victory) (Matt. 25:31-32; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 7; Rev. 19:11-21).
That is an underlying theme which runs through the Gospels. For example, Mark is about the major conflict between the Prince of this world and the King of God’s realm. The good news is that Jesus has great power over Satan and his demons (Matt. 12:22-32; Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-23). Every one of the exorcisms shows God’s kingdom winning over Satan’s (Matt. 11:12). Every healing shows God’s power of life over the effects of death. Every miracle is evidence of Kingdom power (Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:3; Mark 1:39). In the world we cannot see, every one of Jesus’ miracles was a violent encounter with Satan’s kingdom (Matt. 4:23-24; Luke 4:35-39; Luke 8:24; etc.) King Jesus’ work reverses the effects of Satan and sin, and does so with violence (Matt. 11:12).
4. It is a spiritual-moral Kingdom that has its impact on the physical.
We cannot see it except through the eyes of faith (Matt. 18:3; Mk. 10:15; Jn. 3:3). As Paul tells us, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!” (Rom. 14:17). We do not see demons (normally), but Jesus saw them, encountered them and affected them in ways that touched nature, animals, and people (Matt. 6:13; 7:22; 12:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 20:31, 31; etc.)
5. It is a giving Kingdom!
A kingdom where the King gives instead of takes! The wise men came to bring gifts to the child King, but the real story is that this King came to bring gifts to his wise ones (1 Cor. 2; Eph. 4:8).
This is what is so beautiful about King Jesus and his Kingdom!
- He lavishes gifts of the kingdom upon us. Christ ascended to His throne and now gives gifts to His people (Eph. 1:8-12; Eph. 4:8-11; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
- King Jesus gives kingdom citizens so many blessings and benefits (Rom 8:32). The Kingdom of God is not merely the place of Christ, nor merely the rule of Christ, but it is also the blessings we receive through the Spirit in Him.
- The greatest gift is abundant and eternal life (John. 6:40; John 10:10; John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).
- Yet, we receive so much more in Jesus and his Kingdom:
- In Christ’s kingdom we receive comfort for mourning. This means restoration, strength, and encouragement (2 Thess 2:16-17) during times of grief and discouragement. We receive comfort because the Comforter gives himself to us (Isa 40:11; 66:11; Jn 14:26).
- In his kingdom we have an inheritance (Mark 10: 25ff) found in Christ himself. Seeking the kingdom means to seek after all the blessings of the heavenly treasures (Matt. 6:33). We inherit the earth (Isa. 66:22; 2 Peter. 3:13). We inherit because we are humbled and made poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3), and because we are united to the Heir of all things (Eph. 1:11-18; Col. 3:24; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:3-4).
- In his kingdom our hungers and thirsts are satisfied (Prov. 16:26; Matt. 5:6). Life is following after our hungers, but Jesus promised full satisfaction to those whose deepest yearning and desire is to intimately know God. He is the desire behind all desires (Psa 17:15; 42:1-2) and the rich satisfaction for our souls.
- In his kingdom we find mercy (Matt. 5:7).
- In Christ’s kingdom we see God (Matt. 5:8). Entering the kingdom means appearing before the face of the King enthroned between the cherubim of heaven (Ex. 23; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4).
- In the kingdom we are the children of God, adopted into his family and made brothers of the Son of our Father-God (John 1:12; Heb 2:11). It is a precious gift that we are given the right to sit at his table to share in His great feast (1 Cor. 11; Rev. 19:7-10). It is a great gift he gives to us to be able to sit in heavenly places with Jesus Christ, sharing His rule over all things (Eph. 1:20-23; Eph. 2:6; Heb. 2; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 20:4-6).
6. It is a fruitful kingdom.
The work God’s people do in his Kingdom is from love, mercy and grace. It is a work that produces real fruit, not for personal consumption but to give to God and to others:
- We receive the fruit of comfort in order to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-7)
- We receive the fruit of mercy in order to show others mercy (Matt. 18:21-35; Rom. 12)
- We receive the fruit of glory so that we can reflect his light in the world (Matt. 5:14ff)
- We have the fruit of being rescued in order that we may rescue others (Lk 10:25-37).
7. It is a loving kingdom.
Christ has taken his people out of darkness and placed them into the realm of his love (Col. 1:13). Life in Jesus’ realm is a life of love: love for God and love for others (Matt. 22:37-39; Rom. 5:5; Rom. 8:31-31; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4).
Jesus Christ is the King and in him is his Kingdom! This is the meaning of Christmas: the God of the universe became a perfect, sinless man through miraculous conception but a normal birth on that awesome Christmas night. The earth and all creation received its king.
Even though this little child did not remain a little babe, but instead grew up to be a mature man, we are told that we cannot enter into King Jesus’ kingdom unless we come like a little child, with simple trust and saving faith (Matt. 18:3).
Have you placed child-like faith in King Jesus? If you have not yet done so, why not receive your King now?