King over God’s Restored Kingdom
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
What do we mean when we say Jesus is not only savior to a fallen world, but king over God’s kingdom he came to re-establish upon the earth?
Talk of kings and kingdoms is a bit foreign to Americans like me. But, it turns out, every earthly king who’s ever reigned over an earthly kingdom has done so under the shadow of the ultimate king, who created and therefore owns all things. Genesis 1:1, reminds us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” And, as we’ve seen, God created us in his image to enjoy a relationship with him who deserves our complete trust and total obedience.
We’ve also seen that Adam and Eve, our first parents, rebelled against our Creator-King, plunging themselves and us, their descendants, under the curse of sin, and expelling themselves and us from God’s kingdom, in which we were created to thrive. But, amazingly, though we deserved God’s judgment, he didn’t give us what we deserved. Instead, he promised to send one who would not only destroy the works of the devil and conquer the power of sin and death, but reestablish and reign over God’s restored kingdom on the earth.
Today we’ll see that Jesus claimed to be God’s Savior-King, declaring at the beginning of his public ministry, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, ESV). The wait is over, Jesus says. God’s restored kingdom has come, because I, God’s King have come. Celebrate this good news with me by turning from lesser things to follow me into God’s promised renewal that has finally arrived.
Here, as he would do throughout his ministry, Jesus affirms he is king over God’s kingdom that has come, is coming, and will one day fill the earth. In this lesson, we’ll consider five ways he affirmed this, and why it matters that Jesus is not only our savior, but our good and trustworthy king.
One way Jesus affirmed he was God’s Messiah-King was by repeatedly referring to himself as the “Son of Man,” a title the Prophet Daniel assigned to the Messiah to come (Daniel 7:13-14). The Jews of Jesus’s day would have recognized that, by giving himself this Messianic title, Jesus was claiming to be Daniel’s Messiah-King, come to redeem and reign over God’s people.
A second way Jesus declared himself to be God’s promised king was by claiming he had come to fulfill the Old Covenant Law (Matthew 5:17). By this, Jesus was not only claiming the authority to clarify God’s intention for the Old Covenant Law, which He did repeatedly throughout the Sermon on the Mount (e.g., Matthew 5:21-47); but, more importantly, as He claimed elsewhere, the entire Old Testament points to and is fulfilled in him (John 5:39).
A third way Jesus affirmed his kingship over God’s kingdom was through his kingdom parables in which he, the Son of Man, reigns as king. As he explained the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:41, for example, Jesus affirms that he, “…the Son of Man, will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all lawbreakers.”
A fourth way Jesus affirmed his kingship over God’s restored kingdom was through his authority over demons. For example, in Matthew 8:29, as Jesus approached a demon-possessed man, the demons cried out, “what have you to do with us, O son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Notice the demons not only understood their time of judgment would come, but that it had come, as they recognized that Jesus, the Messiah, according to the ancient promise had come to destroy them forever.
This leads to the fifth way Jesus affirmed his kingship over God’s restored kingdom, namely, at the cross, where, through his sacrificial death, Jesus disarmed evil as he purchased His kingdom people.
As the Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:13-14, ESV, “He [God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Again in Colossians 2, Paul says,
“…God made you alive together with him [the crucified, resurrected Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, having nailed it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities” [i.e., the powers of darkness] “and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Christ.” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV; comments added in brackets)
Notice that, in both passages, Jesus, the Savior-King broke the power of darkness at the cross to reestablish God’s righteous reign (kingdom of light) upon the earth. And, beyond this theological reality, the fact Jesus gave himself for us on that ugly cross assures us, not only that he is our Savior-King, but that he is a good king who will always seek our best; one who is worthy of our complete trust, total obedience, and as we’ll see next time, even our worship.
Do you know this good Savior-King who came to restore to you a right relationship with the God who made you for himself? Are you experiencing newness of life in his kingdom of light? Because you were made for this, I pray that one day you will know and follow Jesus into that light, and enjoy the life only he can give.