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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10:30am service, 2003-12-21

Text: Isaiah 9:6,7

I praise God for this morning's Combined Christmas Worship Service, when we gather to remember the glorious incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. As usual, the world outside celebrates a Christmas that is largely devoid of Christ, but filled with all the customary festivities and meaningless merry-making. But we who belong to Christ must make this commemoration a Christ-honouring one. It is the birth of Christ that is being celebrated, and He must have the pre-eminence. 

If you were to read the biblical accounts of the birth of Christ carefully, you will notice that they do not only tell you about how Christ was born, but they also serve to bring out the the truth of His kingship. Let us turn our Bibles to that famous prophecy of the birth of Christ in Isaiah 9:6,7 to see the first indication of Christ's kingship linked to His birth: 

'For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 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.'

You will notice here that Isaiah's prophecy begins by speaking of a child that is born, but ends up with a description of His kingship, His glorious reign. These two images of Christ must always be in our thoughts at Christmas. There are some today who may gladly receive Jesus because they think that He is just a harmless little baby who will not make any strict demands from them. To them He is still a sweet babe lying in a manger, as depicted in the nativity scenes at Christmas time. But Jesus is no longer a baby, no longer a child. He is the great almighty King, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who demands your loyalty to Him and obedience to Him!

This is therefore what we want to meditate on this morning. We want to see in His birth as well as the rest of His life on earth, the supreme and sovereign authority that He has as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Of the four Gospels, the one that has a distinct royal texture is the book of Matthew. Out of the many facts and events in the life of Christ, Matthew has selected those that tend of bring out His kingship. And the result is a book that points to Christ as the great Messianic King of the Jews. And so we shall begin our study by walking through the Gospel of Matthew, to appreciate its full description of the Kingship of Christ.

I. The Description of the Kingship of Jesus Christ

In the Gospel of Matthew, the kingship of Jesus Christ is anticipated in his genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16) - He came from the royal line of King David to whom God had made the promise, that He will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. The genealogy of Jesus includes the names of 14 kings that descended from king David (vv.6-11). But Matthew's genealogy traces the ancestry of Jesus much earlier than David, and all the way back to Abraham (vv.2-5). Why Abraham? Perhaps it is because the earliest mention in the Bible of a divinely appointed kingship is actually found in Genesis 17:6 where God made this promise to Abraham: 'And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.'

As we come to the second chapter of Matthew, we see the Kingship of Jesus affirmed at His birth. The wise men from the east came to Jerusalem to seek Him saying, 'Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.' (Matthew 2:2). And when they found Him, they presented Him with costly gifts, fit for a King - Gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

In Matthew chapter 3 we see the Kingship of Jesus announced as John the Baptist began to preach, 'Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' (Matthew 3:2). Jesus Himself preached the same message (4:17) as well as the disciples whom he sent out (10:7). He also taught the multitudes many things about His kingdom in His Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3,10 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'). Such teaching is also found in the many parables that Jesus told to help His disciples understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:10,11,24, 31,33,44,45,47).

We take a leap now to Matthew 16:18,19 where we see Jesus telling His disciples how His Kingship will be applied - He will build His church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And He will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven of His chief disciple, which Peter used later on to unlock the Gospel door to the Jews at Pentecost, and to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius.

Shortly after this, Matthew records how the Kingship of Jesus appeared briefly in His transfiguration. His disciples -Peter, James and John had a glimpse Jesus in His full royal glory. Jesus had told them this in Matthew 16:28 'Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.' This was fulfilled six days later on the mount, when they saw Jesus changed (or transfigured) before their eyes 'His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.' (Matthew 17:2). And one day soon, we too may be seeing the same transfigured Jesus coming in His kingdom. And this time it will not be just a momentary appearance, but a permanent revelation!

As we come to Matthew's account of the Passion Week of Jesus which begins at chapter 21, we see the Kingship of Jesus acknowledged when He made His triumphal entry in to Jerusalem and He was given a royal welcome by great crowds of people. Matthew states that this was the fulifllment of Zechariah's prophecy, 'Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.' (Matthew 21:5, cf Zechariah 9:9). 

The Kingship of Jesus was further acknowledged by Jesus Himself when He was questioned a few days later during His trial before the Roman Governor. Pontius Pilate asked Him, 'Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.' (Matthew 27:11). This acknowledgement was then used as a charge against Him that led to His execution. The Roman soldiers made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. They placed a purple robe on Him and a reed in His right hand and rendered mock obeisance to Him saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' (Matthew 27:29). The placard that was placed above Jesus on the cross read, 'THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.' (Matthew 27:37).

The final verses of Matthew's Gospel reveal the Kingship of Jesus now fully assumed by Him, at the time after He had resurrected from the dead - With full kingdom authority, He now said, 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' Not long after He said these words, He ascended up to Heaven to take His place at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. 

II. The Development of the Kingship of Jesus Christ

From Matthew's Gospel we now come to the present time and the future time. Here we will see that the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ is not static. It develops through the ages from the present spiritual reign that He now has, to the future political reign that He will have when He comes again, and beyond that, to the eternal universal reign. 

A. The Present Spiritual Reign of Christ on Earth.

In our present time, we do not see Christ fully reigning as King of kings on this earth yet, but He is already reigning in the hearts of those who believe in Him. So His kingdom is already right here, and you and I are part of it. But the present character of His kingdom not political but spiritual. Jesus said this clearly in Luke 17:20-21 - 'And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.' 

The Jews could not understand what Jesus meant here. They were all expecting the inauguration of a visible political kingdom, with the overthrow of their Roman overlords and the full restoration of the throne of King David. But the present reign of Jesus is His reign in the hearts of men, not on a visible throne in some grand capital city. In His first coming Jesus did not come to set up a political kingdom yet.

But while Christ made it clear that His kingdom at present is to have this non-political character, this does not mean that there will not be a time later on when His kingdom will assume a political character. Let us look at what Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36 'Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.' Jesus said this against the allegations by the Jews that He was planning to overthrow the Romans and restore the political kingdom of Israel. I want you to observe the important word 'now' It adds a time element to His statement, and makes an important difference. 

Why did Christ add it in, saying 'but now is My kingdom not from hence.'? It means that there will be a time when Christ's kingdom will be of this world. This brings us to 

B. The Future Political Reign of Christ on Earth.

This full and absolute reign of the Lord Jesus Christ is coming soon. It is on the way! It will be fully accomplished in His Second Coming to take over the government of the whole world. The book of Revelation reveals that He will descend from Heaven riding on a white horse. Here are the exact words: 'His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. 13 And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.' (Revelation 19:12-16)

We all look forward to the day when Jesus will begin His reign as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords over a visible, political kingdom on earth. This reign will no longer be just a spiritual one, in the hearts of men. As a political kingdom, it will surpass all the superpowers and empires that this world has ever seen, because it will encompass the whole world. 

The dreams and visions of Daniel chapters 2 and 7 confirm this. In chapter 2, the empires of the world were represented by various parts of a great statue, then a stone hit the base of the statue, destroyed it and grew to fill up the whole earth (v.35). In chapter 7, the empires of the world were represented as 4 ferocious beasts that came one after another. The worst beast was the fourth one, and after it was finally destroyed, the Son of Man alone ruled over the whole earth.

Daniel 11:27 says - 'And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.'

In this kingdom, there will be a capital city and a throne set up in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-4). And how long will this Kingdom of Jesus Christ last? It will last for a thousand years, as Revelation 20:4 tells us 'And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.' The word thousand years in Latin is 'millennium'. And so this future political reign of Christ on earth is sometimes called the 'millennial Kingdom'.

So we have seen how the Kingdom of Christ will develop from His present rule in the hearts of men (the spiritual kingdom) into His future rule over this whole world (the political millennial kingdom). But after that, here will be a further final development of the reign of Christ at the end of the millennium:

C. The Eternal Universal Reign of Christ 

This is the time when Christ will have subdued all things (1 Corinthians 15:24,25) - including death, and Satan, both cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. Then there will be only one sole sovereign King who has total absolute rule over the whole universe. According to Philippians 2:10,11 that will be the time when 'every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' 

Christ then will reign forever no longer in an earthly city of Jerusalem, but in the New heavenly Jerusalem, the city that is built by the Lord Himself (Revelation 21:1-27). This will be the final eternal state of the Kingdom of Christ - a Kingdom that includes all things, without exception. It will be the grand fulfillment of what God's Word says about Christ's relationship with all Creation in Colossians 1:16 'For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.'

III. The Derived Applications of the Kingship of Christ 

Having seen the full description and development of the Kingship of Christ, let us now consider two useful applications that we can derive from it. The first is that 

A. It Is The Only Hope For The World

It has become more evident than ever that the world we live in will continue to have troubles and wars no matter which human leader, nation or body of nations assumes control. Look at the state of the world today - a world where nations are torn with constant disagreements, with strife, suspicion and pride. More wars have been fought in the last hundred years than in several thousand years of history before this. Fifty years of negotiations in the Middle East has still not brought about any lasting peace. The very best of human efforts has never been able to produce the perfect world that people dream of. And our very best efforts will utterly fail to bring all the nations of the world under one unified rule that will glorify God. 

It is up to Christ alone to do this. He alone has the power to effect all the changes that this world needs. And therefore we should earnestly pray for Christ's Kingdom to come soon to deliver this world from all its woes 'Come, Thou long expected Jesus. Come and subdue this world. Let Thy sovereign rule over all men be established. As the second Adam, regain now the earthly paradise that was lost by the first Adam.' But while we are to pray for Christ to establish His world-wide rule as soon as possible, let us also see whether we ourselves are personally submitting to His rule in our life.

B. It Demands Our Full Submission to Christ

Dearly beloved, the important question that I want all of us to consider at this Christmas Worship Service is: Are you living in full submission to Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? If you are not fully submitting to Jesus how can celebrate the birth of the newborn King? How can you sing carols of sincere praise that Christ is born, if you are at the same time reject His authority? Whenever we fail to take our Lord's commandments seriously, we are in effect rejecting His authority. And this is nothing but rebellion against Him! 

Dearly beloved, you cannot celebrate the birth of Christ if your heart is in a state of rebellion against Him. Perhaps there are some matters in your life that the Lord Jesus has been speaking to you about or warning you about, through His Word. Listen to Him. Please do not disregard His prompting or desire to go against it. It will not do you any good at all. Just submit yourself, surrender yourself to Him who is your King and your Lord. If this Christmas season sees you consecrating your life anew to Him like this, it will truly be a blessed Christmas for you.

And so, as we celebrate Christmas this week please do not get caught up in all the worldly revelry and meaningless festivities, but be reminded of the right that Jesus has to rule your life. Ask yourself: 'If I acknowledge the fact that Christ is truly the one who is born to be King, is His Kingdom fully established yet in my own life? Is He ruling over my life, or am I still trying to rule my own life? Does Jesus have everything in my life at His disposal, or am I still holding on to some things and refusing to surrender every part of my life to Him?'

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11