By William S. Plumer, 1867
"Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout
CHRIST A KING
Those who reject Christ as King, have never truly received him as Prophet or Priest. His authority and his redemption, his rule and his rest, go together. If his love does not make us obedient to his laws, we have no saving interest in his merits. We are not wise unto salvation, until we bow to his authority. If we are partakers of his redemption, we are certainly partakers of his holiness. We may talk of his wonderful teachings, or boast of our interest in his amazing sacrifice, but it is all in vain so long as we refuse to own him as our Leader and Commander. Wherever he comes to bless, he comes as a Conqueror. His rule is as just, as it is welcome to the penitent: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Romans 14:9. No law of Christ is too strict for a believer. With a controlling power his conscience enforces, and his heart embraces every precept of his Master. The kingly office of Christ is our theme.
1. Prophecy required that Christ should be a King.So ran that great fundamental prediction made to David: "I will set up your seed after you . . . and I will establish his kingdom . . . and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son." 2 Sam. 7:12-14. Again: "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Psalm 2:6. Again: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6, 7. The great promise to Bethlehem Ephratah was: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past." Mic. 5:2. So also the angel Gabriel said of him to Mary: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:32, 33. It is thus clear that prophecy required him to be a King.
II. When Jesus Christ was upon his trial before Pilate, that guilty trifler "said unto him, Are you a king then?" And in the language commonly used in those days to affirm, he answered, "You say that I am a king." The meaning is—You correctly say I am a king. And that all may see his solemn earnestness, he immediately adds, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice." So that Christ's mission into this world would have been in vain, if this "truth" had not been received. Twenty-seven years after Christ's trial, Paul, writing to a young minister, and giving him a charge to be faithful, calls his attention to this solemn scene in the judgment-hall, when "Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession." 1 Tim. 6:13. The only thing Jesus confessed on his trial before Pilate was, that he was a king and Christ. This was his "good confession." It was good, because it was true. "He sealed it with his precious blood."
III. Jesus Christ is often calledLord, Master, Governor, Ruler, Shepherd, Prince, Prince and Savior, the great Prince, the Prince of Life, the Prince of Peace, the Prince of princes, the Prince of the kings of the earth, a King, the King, the King of kings and Lord of lords. This last title is first found in 1 Timothy 6:15, 16: "He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom none of mankind has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal might. Amen!" Some apply this passage to Christ, some to the Father, and some to the Godhead without distinction of persons. For the purposes of this argument, either mode suits our object. If it refers to Christ, it settles the question of his kingly authority. If it refers to the Father, or to the Divinity without distinction of persons, then it settles the point that the highest sovereignty is thus declared. And we have the very same language, thirty-five years after, applied to Christ: "The Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords and King of kings;" "And he has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords!" Rev. 17:14; 19:16. Surely Jesus is a King.
IV. In the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is said to possess all the badges and tokens of a king.He has a throne: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever," Heb. 1:8. "To him who overcomes will I give to sit with me in my throne," Rev. 3:21. He has a crown; for we read of "the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals." Cant. 3:11. About a thousand years later John says: "And a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." Rev. 6:2. And to show the amplitude of his kingly authority, John says: "And on his head were many crowns." Rev. 19:12. Christ has a scepter: "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom." Heb. 1:8. Christ has a kingdom. He says to Pilate: "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." John 18:36. Christ has subjects. In the verse just cited he speaks of his servants. His people in heaven and earth feel honored by being allowed to live under him, and to serve him. And at God's command all the angels of heaven have taken the oath of allegiance to him: "Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. 1:6. He has the sword: "Gird your sword upon your thigh, O most Mighty, with your glory and your majesty." Psalm 45:3. He deals with his enemies like a great King: "He shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Psalm 2:9. Surely he is a King!
V. But what sort of a king is Christ?Let us see.
1. He is an EVERLASTING King.His "goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Mic. 5:2. He "was in the beginning with God." John 1:2. He "was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was." Proverbs 8:23. Nor shall he ever cease to be King: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." Heb. 1:8. 'The great prophet of the captivity expressly says his "kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," "which shall never be destroyed." Dan. 2:44; 7:27. "His throne shall endure as the days of heaven." Glory to God for that.
2. He is a WISE King.One of his names is Wisdom. Proverbs 8. According to prophecy, he has dealt prudently in all things. Isaiah 52:13. He has never made any mistake. He orders and establishes his kingdom with the cognizance of omniscience. He leads his people by the right way, that they may go to a city of habitation. Psalm 107:7. He teaches them all in the way of wisdom; he leads them in right paths. When they go, their steps shall not be straitened; and when they run they shall not stumble.
3. He is a JUST King.He preserves the faithful, and justly punishes the evil-doer. Just and right is he. He does not regard the rich more than the poor. "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of his kingdom." Heb. 1:8. However things may seem to us, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Our King can do no wrong. He never has done wrong to any. As much as he had set his heart on saving sinners, he would not open the gates of paradise to one of them until he had bound himself by oath and covenant to satisfy all the claims of justice, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. He will not carry one sinner to glory, trampling on the rights and government of God as he goes. When the solemn scenes of the last day shall come, the heavens shall declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Not a blot shall be found on his escutcheon, nor an error in his awards. Hallelujah! The Judge of all the earth will do right.
4. Christ is an ALMIGHTY King.Nothing is too hard for him. None can resist him. He carries the keys of the invisible world; he opens, and none can shut; he shuts, and none can open. He controls all causes and all agents. He is the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Who would set the briers and thorns against him in battle? He would go through them, and burn them together. At his rebuke the pillars of heaven tremble. The hiding of his power—none can understand. He is "the Almighty." Rev. 1:8. Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns!
5. Jesus is a gentle, tender, merciful, condescending King.He never breaks the bruised reed. He never quenches the smoking flax. The haughtiest monarchs he has trodden to hell; but he never trampled on a broken heart. "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zech. 9:9. Yes, He who commands the twenty thousand chariots of heaven, Psalm 68:17, entered the holy city in the humblest manner, even when receiving a triumph decreed to him by prophecy. Yes more, he wept over the very city that was about to imbrue its hands in his blood. It was but ten days after his ascension until he sent his ministers and his Spirit to call his murderers to repentance; and in one day thousands of them were made to rejoice in his loving-kindness. Though the heaven is his throne and the earth is his footstool, yet he dwells with him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at God's word.
6. Jesus Christ is a King of EXHAUSTLESS RESOURCES.He has unsearchable riches. He is heir of all things. The stars, and the sea, and the dry land are his, for he made them. He is Lord of angels. "He is Lord of all." Acts 10:36. Yes, he is "the Lord of glory." 1 Cor. 2:8. All power in heaven and earth is given unto him. Matt. 28:18. When he promises grace and glory—we know it is sure to come. When he pledges a crown and a kingdom and a royal priesthood to the humblest of his followers—we may judge of his immense treasures and possessions. He gives even to his enemies, many a time, great wealth, and even diadems, though he respects no man's person. The earth is his, and the fullness thereof.
VI. But what kind of a KINGDOM has Christ?Just such as you would expect such a King to preside over.
1. It is divinely ordered and ordained.Hear his own words: "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me." Luke 22:29. His regal power is no usurpation: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church." Ephesians 1:18-22
2. Christ's kingdom is not of this world. He says so expressly, John 18:36. It is not based on worldly wisdom; it is not ruled by worldly maxims; it is not managed by crafty statesmanship. Scott says: "It has nothing to do with men's temporal interests or privileges; it leaves rulers and subjects in the same situation as it found them. It is therefore no fit object of jealousy to any government. Jesus never armed his followers. His disciples were inoffensive in their habits, and were forbidden to fight for him, even when he was apprehended. So that his kingdom is clearly not of a secular nature, but relates wholly to spiritual and heavenly things, and is supported entirely by spiritual sanctions and authority."
3. Christ's kingdom is his by just desert.He has deserved all his honors and all his authority. He is not on the throne by an act of grace to him, but by his own amazing merits: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:6-11. All heaven publicly and adoringly ascribes his kingly exaltation to his own merits. Rev. 5:12. Their cry ever is, "Worthy is the Lamb."
4. His kingdom is universal.It includes all worlds, all creatures, all causes. Nothing in heaven, nothing in earth, nothing under the earth is outside of it. His saints praise him. The angels adore him. The devils are subject to him. The king's heart is in his hands, and he turns it wherever he will. His kingdom rules over all.
5. Christ's kingdom is supreme.He is over all God blessed forever. There is no principality over him. His kingdom is not a wheel within another wheel; but it is so exalted that there is nothing above it.
6. It is stable.Nothing can shake it. Many a bold conspiracy has been formed against it, but all in vain. Worms cannot spit their venom so as to reach the stars in their course. Nor can puny mortals reach the person or the power of our Immanuel.
7. Christ's kingdom is omnipotent.By his own divine efficiency he carries on his government. He upholds all things by his powerful word. He does his will in heaven and in earth. He is expecting until his enemies become his footstool. Not an empire rises or sinks but by his will. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice. Every change on earth is by his providence. He is subverting wicked counsels and defeating wicked plots, until he is finished his whole pleasure upon Mount Zion.
His work on his people is mighty. He subdues them to himself. By love, by power, by truth, by chastisement, by solemn things in righteousness, in mercy, in judgment, in faithfulness, in loving kindness—he reigns their Lord and Master. He chains their great adversary; he subdues their iniquities under them; he strips the world of its fatal fascinations; he makes them willing in the day of his power; he leads them into all necessary truth. A joyful allegiance to Christ is a great element of true piety.
8. His kingdom is above human comprehension."God manifest in the flesh" is the mystery of mysteries. When Christ is about to do his greatest wonders, both of judgment and of mercy, he often gives no such notice as arrests attention. The kingdom of God comes not with observation. The Lord comes suddenly to his temple. He does mighty things which we look not for. When we are shut up and cannot come forth, then he brings us out into a large place. When he turns our captivity, we are like them that dream. The resurrection of Christ, his ascension to heaven, the miracles of Pentecost, the release of Peter, the conversion of Paul surprised both good and bad men. It shall be so to the end of time. The judgment day itself will abound with wonders, beyond all the days of earth. One great mystery is that both we and the Captain of our salvation are "made perfect through suffering." Strange that he should scourge every son whom he receives; but so runs his counsel, and so we become partakers of the Divine nature.
Sometimes to us his delays are unaccountable, and we cry out, "O Lord, how long? Why tarry your chariot wheels? Why do the wicked prosper? Why are waters of a full cup wrung out to your chosen ones?" But we forget that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. He inhabits eternity. His prospects are bounded by no horizon. His delays to punish, are stupendous mercies. Without them no person would be spared.
1. Let us put our hand into our Savior's hand—to lead us as he will. A child of God was very sick. She had suffered long and severely. She was asked whether she would not prefer death to life. "Just as the Lord pleases," was her reply. "But," said one, "if God should refer it to you—which would you choose?" She replied: "Then I would refer it back again to God." She was right. She was wise. Should we settle such a question, it would almost certainly be decided wrong. If the Master determines it—there will be no mistake. Besides, when we wholly submit our will to his will, his will becomes ours, and so we have our way because God has his way. When that which pleases the Lord pleases us, nothing can take away our rejoicing. Much of the bliss of heaven consists in this happy temper. No doubt things are constantly occurring in the realms above, which would provoke resistance and rebellion in hearts not taught perfect submission to the will of God. The demand for hearty acquiescence is most reasonable, because the Lord is unerring. It he were ever unkind, if he were unwise, if he were feeble—we might hesitate. But he is too good to be unkind; and too wise to be mistaken.
2. The church is safe. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her. She enjoys her Monarch's love and her Monarch's care. Jesus lives and reigns forever. To all believers we may boldly say, "Who shall harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?" The solution of a godly man's perplexities, and the quelling of his fears, can often be had by remembering that our Savior's throne is the throne of God, and that his ways are the ways of God. He gives no account of any of his matters. The Lord our God in the midst of us is mighty, mighty to save all who take refuge in him, mighty to destroy all who dare rise up against Zion. Christ's kingly office is made illustrious in bringing good out of evil, light out of darkness, and joy out of sorrow. When the unhappy Dr. Dodd was on his way to execution, a brutish man came and taunted him as a culprit, though a minister of the gospel. He had indeed committed a great crime, but there is some reason to hope that he was a true penitent. In his anguish, heightened by the gaze of the multitude and the reproaches of this base accuser, he quoted those memorable words which the prophet Micah put into the mouth of the church: "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me; he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness." The gloomy procession moved on, the crowd becoming more dense, until at last the man who had used the reproach was crushed to the earth and died, though no one intended him evil. Thus were fulfilled the words of the very next verse, which Dodd had not quoted: "He who is my enemy . . . shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets." Christ is the Prince of the kings of the earth.
3. We greatly misrepresent the church, and Christ also, when we teach that his kingdom is of this world, that the weapons of her warfare are carnal, that the linen white and clean of her members can be trailed in the mire of this world's maxims, usages, and policy, without being defiled. The cause of Christ has been more injured by being represented, so as to sanction the vices and crimes and follies of men, than by all the fires of persecution ever kindled. The great error of the Jews respecting Messiah's kingdom was that it was of this world. His own followers labored under this error for a long time. They said, "Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
4. Let all who are yet out of Christ, be reconciled to him now while it is called today. He has a right to your highest homage. He is your rightful sovereign. Outside of him, you are undone. He has come and is calling for you. Will you accept his grace? He has done more for you than all your earthly friends united. He offers you the life that now is and that which is to come. Oh that you would be wise, wise for yourself, wise unto salvation, wise for eternity. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little."
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God—be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." 1 Timothy 1:17.