David Jeremiah - Is He King of the Jews or King of Kings?
You know, among the historic figures that have dotted the landscape of history over the years, a chosen few have been called great. These characters are like monuments on the pages of time, and they're kings who wielded extraordinary power or left an unusual mark. In the time of the Bible, we have Cyrus the Great, we have Darius the Great, Xerxes the Great, Herod the Great. Between the Old and New Testaments, the world was changed forever by the rise of Alexander the Great, and Europe also came under the sway of Charles the Great. There have actually been quite a few greats. Encyclopedias list more than 130 characters in history known as the Great.
But here's the interesting thing, the greatest King that the world has ever known is Jesus, and he is never once in the Bible called great. There's no Jesus the Great, there's no Christ the Great. He's not on the list with 130 other greats because his greatness isn't derived from a comparison with other people. He is in a class by himself. He stands absolutely alone in history. He is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He's the king whose power is absolute, whose reign is infinite, whose throne is incomparable. He's an indescribable King, for he eternally reigns without beginning of days or ending of life.
Yet he is said to have been born a King and he died a King. He's the epitome of humility and the Bible calls him the ruler over the kings of the earth. He's our Messiah. He's our intercessor, the compassionate servant, the humble teacher, the selfless Savior. But never forget, along with all those relational terms, he is the King. Without his supreme and sovereign rule, our lives would sink into chaos. Nothing can stabilize our emotions like remembering his royal reign. He commands and he controls, and nothing is exempt from his preeminent power and that's why so many people find him the anchor of their soul. He is the King of kings. He's the Lord of lords. He is the Sovereign of all the earth.
And today as we look into his royalty, we're going to examine it in two ways. First of all, we're gonna talk about five of his royal titles, and then we're going to look into his regal throne. First of all, he is called the King of the Jews. He is called the King of the Jews. Let's begin with our Lord's unusual title. There are two periods in the life of Jesus when he is referred to as the King of the Jews, hardly any time in between those two periods and never in the Old Testament. He has called the King of the Jews at his birth.
Matthew says, "And after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born king of the Jews'"? Local rabbis told them about Micah's prophecy of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Christ. And so, the magi traveled on to Bethlehem, "And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. He was the King. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented him kingly gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh".
We've all seen 1,000 Christmas cards of the scene, but try to picture it in your mind. Strange visitors from Eastern lands bowing down in regal robes, excitedly opening gifts and worshiping Jesus as the King of the Jews. Even in his infancy, Jesus was a King. Others become kings upon the death of another, but Jesus was born a King that he might die for another, for you and for me. That leads to his death where he is also referred to as the King of the Jews, almost without exception. No mention of that title between his birth and his death, but when you get to the passion narrative, we see Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate.
He asked Jesus this question he said, "Are you the King of the Jews"? And Jesus replied, "It is, as you say". Addressing the mobs before him, Pilate shouted, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? What then do you want me to do with him who you call the King of the Jews"? They responded as you know, "Crucify Him. Crucify the King of the Jews". Pilate handed over Christ for crucifixion, along with a strange order for the executioners. A sign was nailed to the top of the cross bearing the words, "King of the Jews".
If you had passed the crucifixion scene that day, you would have seen that sign on top of the cross, "King of the Jews". And the chief priests objected, and they demanded that Pilate change the inscription from the "King of the Jews", to "He said, I am the King of the Jews". And I love what Pilate said, he said, "What I have written, I have written". This was our Lord's title in his birth and at his death. Uttered by the magi, and the magistrates, and the mob, and the markings over his cross, and the master himself, Jesus was King of the Jews.
The Bible also tells us that he is King of Israel. In a similar way, Jesus is called the King of Israel. First person who ever called him that was a disciple named Nathaniel. One day in John 1:49 he said to Jesus, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel", John 1:49. Approximately three years later at the Lord's triumphal entry on Sunday, large numbers of people celebrated his arrival in Jerusalem, and what did they say? "Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel". Five days later as he suffered on Golgotha, one of his enemies shouted sarcastically, "If he is the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross and we will believe him".
As the king of Israel, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant that God made with David. In 2 Samuel 7:12 and 16 we read these words, "I will set up your seed after you who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom, and your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever. The throne of Israel would be occupied by the king of Israel", said the prophecy of Samuel. According to this and other Scriptures, Jesus Christ is the only rightful everlasting heir to the throne of David.
And in a passage we often again quote at Christmas, I'm not getting the head start, but here it is. From the prophet Isaiah we read, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". Now, listen carefully, "Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end upon the throne of David over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this".
Jesus is the rightful heir to the kingship of Israel because he comes through the lineage of David and he now, according to the Bible during that particular time, occupy the throne of David. He's the King of the Jews. He's the King of Israel, but the Bible also says he's the King of kings. This is our Lord's ultimate title of royal honor. We learn in Revelation 19 that when he comes the second time, this is how it will go.
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords".
I can't help but tell you what comes to my mind when I think of that. You know, if you've ever watched a professional basketball game, sometimes college games, they wear warmups. And often on the outside of the warmup legs are written words. Now I'm not accusing Jesus of wearing warmups when he comes back, but I am saying it says on his robe written on the side of the robe will be this name, "King of kings and Lord of lords". And when you see him you will know it, but it will be identified because the Scripture says it will be written upon his clothing.
I know we live in a disturbed world without a whole lot of hope sometimes if you look around you. None of today's politicians, or leaders, or villains, or rogues will ever, ever gain supreme authority, not even the coming antichrist. All of them are gonna falter, all of them are going to fail, for only Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Now, I don't know about you, I sleep better when I think about that. I try not to watch the news before I go to bed. I don't know what the right time is anymore to watch the news during the day. I don't like to watch the whole thing. I like those little capsule reports. But what I know is this, no matter what's happening, I'm glad he's my Savior. I'm glad he's my Shepherd. I'm glad he's my Friend. But I'm also glad he's the Supreme Commander of the universe and beyond. He is King of kings. He is Lord of lords. He's King of the Jews. He's the King of Israel. He's the King of kings and the Bible says he's King over the whole earth. When he returns, Jesus will be known as King over all the earth.
If Revelation 19 is the New Testament's most dramatic description of the Second Coming, there's a passage you may not know about, you should write down and read it sometimes. Zechariah chapter 14, it's considered the Old Testament counterpart to Revelation 19. Here's what it says, "I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. It will be a unique day, a day known only to the Lord. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name".
Some passages, it appears like the kingdom of God is in the future, and some passages it seems like the kingdom of God is now. And I can get into arguments with some of my theological friends about the kingdom of God. Is it now or is it then? I think the confusion clears up when we remember the sequence of the two comings of Christ. Jesus came the first time as a redeeming king, and he is coming the second time as a reigning king. He came the first time to establish a spiritual kingdom, his church, to take the gospel to the world. And when he comes again, he will establish a political and governmental kingdom to oversee the world for 1,000 years. The kingdom was inaugurated when he came the first time. It will be consummated when he comes again.
He is King of kings and the Lord of lords, and he is my King. And finally, the fifth name for his kingship, he's the King of glory. This name, I believe, has a specific historic context. We know that when Jesus was in heaven before he came to this earth, he was cohabiting with the Father and the Holy Spirit in his eternal reign. One day, the Father, I'd like to personalize this a little bit, came to his Son and he said, "Son, we need to take care of the problem down on earth. We need to go take care of the sin problem, and there's only one person who can do that, and it's you". And I believe I hear Jesus saying, "Lord God, my Father, I am willing". And the Bible says, "Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written) I have come to do your will, O God".
So, Jesus came down here and for 30 some years, he lived on this earth in perfection, and they took this one from heaven and they nailed him to a cross. And he died and he was buried, and he rose again and for 40 some days, he was on this earth demonstrating that he was indeed the resurrected Savior. And at the end of that time, it was time for him to return to his home. He didn't come here to stay. It was a round trip he took. And he was called back to heaven, the Bible says, out on that same mount to which he will one day appear the second time. Jesus ascended into heaven, and the angels said to the disciples, "Why are you so upset about this? This same Jesus that you have seen go up is going to come back".
And we often leave the story there, but we don't ever stop to figure out what it was like in heaven when Jesus got back home. What do you think it was like? Well, I think I know what it was like because I believe the psalmist prophetically tells us what it is like. Psalm 24:7 through 10, "Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory". And he walked back into heaven and he sat down because his work was finished. He is the King of glory.
Years ago, shortly after I first came here, someone told me about another pastor in this town whose name was S.M. Lockridge. He was known far and wide for his incredible oratory when he preached. I was young and had no fear of anything, and called him up one day and asked if I could come and meet him, and I met him. And I said, "S.M., I want you to come to my church and preach. And if it'd be alright, I'd like you to bring your choir". And S.M. Lockridge came with his choir, and we had a night I'll never forget. I mean, they lit the place up.
And then he got up and he preached one of his famous sermons. And the title of the sermon is, "That's My King". I wish I could show it to you. I actually tried to find the video of it, but video back then wasn't very good so I'm gonna give you one paragraph from his sermon. This is kind of how it went. This is what he said.
"He's the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone at himself. He's honest. He's unique. He's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He's supreme. He's preeminent. He's the grandest idea in the literature. He's the highest personality and philosopher. That's my King. He had no predecessor, and he'll have no successor. There's nobody before him, and there'll be nobody after him. You can't impeach him and he's not gonna resign. That's my King".
Tell you what, men and women, you can do a whole lot less in your life than getting to know who Jesus is as your King. He's in charge. On those days when you feel like everything's gone every which direction but the one you thought it should go, you just need to stop and look up into heaven and say, "Thank you, dear God, that Jesus Christ is in control. And I might not understand what's going on right now, but he's my King". Those are his royal titles.
Let me talk with you secondly about his regal throne. Wouldn't you love to see how it looks in heaven right now? Wouldn't you like to see what Jesus is doing there? Wouldn't you like to be able to have a little short video clip of what's going on in heaven right now? Well, I can't give you a video clip, but I can give you a pretty good description because our Lord is in heaven enthroned. I wish I could take the time to read to you from Isaiah chapter 6 or Revelation chapter 4, how he is described, but you can do that. It's pretty impressive. No video could ever capture the majesty of the enthroned Jesus. And the Bible says that you and I are to not lose sight of that.
Colossians 3 says, "If you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above. Where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, set your mind on these things". So, let me ask you a question I had to ask myself this week, when was the last time you meditated on the enthroned Christ seated at the right hand of the Father? Just sat there and allowed your mind to picture that the God of the universe who created us with the word of his mouth and his Son Jesus Christ seated together in glory, in all of their majesty, totally in control of all that happens, and I talked to him that morning, and I know that he's in my heart.
I echo the words of S.M. Lockridge, He's my King and everything's all right 'cause he's still on the throne. So, if that's true, if we have a royal regal King seated on the throne in heaven, what should that mean to us? Let me just give you two or three things that kind of takeaways from all of this. First of all, we should praise him with all of our heart. We should worship him. That's what we're going to do. Remember, when the magi bowed down and worshiped the Christ child, they worshiped him in his humility as the King of the Jews, how much more should we worship him now as the King of kings in glory?
I don't know how to even describe how the angels praised him as he returned to the realms of heaven. I think Psalm 24 is a pretty good indication of it. Revelation 5 gives us a visual picture of Jesus receiving praise in heaven. Listen to this because we're gonna be a part of this, and this should be kind of like what we're rehearsing right down here. Here's how it goes. "In the midst of the throne stood a Lamb, as though it had been slain, and every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, I heard them saying, blessed, and honor, and glory, and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, forever and ever"!
You and I can join in down here. We can get ahead of the game. We can start worshiping now. We can bless the one with honor, and glory, and power given to him who sits on the throne, the Lamb forever and ever. May I suggest to you that you cannot take a course in praising God? There's no class that I know of that can teach you how to do it. You learn how to praise like you learn how to pray, you just do it and you do it over and over again until it just becomes perfected in your life. Every opportunity that you get, you worship him.
You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, I'm not very good at it". Well, it doesn't matter, just do it. You get gooder when you do it. Praise, like prayer, is not something you can learn about in a book. You learn about it by being obedient. We have been commanded to praise our God. There's no sound in the world like the sound of corporate praise when all the people of God who come to the house of God lift up their voices of praise to the God that they love and worship. Whatever opportunity that you have, just remember he is worthy of our praise and it is our privilege, and our joy, and our opportunity to lift up our voices to him in adoration.
Number two, bring him all your needs. Did you know that his throne is the ultimate destination of our prayers? In the book of 2 Kings in the 19th chapter, there's a story about an Assyrian army that encircled the city of Jerusalem and King Hezekiah had no hope of saving his throne, or his people. The Assyrian emperor sent a letter demanding his surrender, but Hezekiah turned to another King, seeking deliverance. He went up to the temple and he spread out the letter before the Lord praying, "Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth", and he laid out the letter before him.
Have you ever done anything like that? I've got a few letters I had to lay off before the Lord. Lord, what do I do with this? What am I supposed to do with this? The Bible says as he prayed to him who sat on the throne, the Lord sent a mighty answer and the city was miraculously saved. Men and women, we can do the same with our perplexities and our problems. The example of Hezekiah is a visual picture of kneeling before the throne and spreading out our problems. We can take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there.
One of the most well-known verses about prayer in the Bible says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need". When you come to pray, make sure you lift up worship and praise at the beginning of your prayer, lest you only speak and think of your problems and you don't see them in the perspective of who God is. But when you worship the Lord, when you praise him, when you do as the Lord taught us to do, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name".
When you hallow the name of the Lord at the beginning of your prayer, you're seeing him in all of his wisdom, and glory, and power, and you may not know it, but you're actually praying to the one who is seated upon the throne of all the earth. And when you do that, your problems have, they have a tendency to get into perspective. In light of so great a God, you almost sometimes feel like you want to apologize for bothering him. And yet, our problems are so important to us. We do as the King did, we take our problems and we spread them out before the Lord and we say, "Lord, what do we do with this"?
I remember reading this from my wonderful friend Charles Spurgeon. He said, "We can come to him with unstaggering confidence because his is not a throne for receiving tribute, it is a throne for dispensing gifts. Come then you are poor as poverty itself. Come you have no merits or are destitute of virtues. This is not the throne of majesty which supports itself by the taxation of its subjects, but a throne which glorifies itself by the streaming forth like a fountain with floods of good things. Come to the throne to worship but then don't forget, it's not just a throne to receive worship. It's a throne that dispenses gifts".
And what is it the Bible says? Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down to us, where? From the Father in heaven. The King of glory sits on the throne of grace, and he listens with the deepest sympathy to every plea of his children. You have access to a listening King, so you should cultivate a praying heart.
Number three, praise him with all your heart. Bring him all your needs, trust him in all your circumstances. You may know Romans 8:28, it's that wonderful, we call it the pillow promise because if you get this one, you can sleep. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
Do you realize that one of the reasons God turns our burdens into blessings is because Jesus Christ is praying for us? We have learned that during this series. It's been kind of a revelation to some of us. It is Christ who died, says Romans 8:34. And furthermore, it is Christ also who is risen, who is even at the right hand of God, and what is he doing there? He is making intercession for us. Not until we get to heaven, men and women, will we ever know even a little of what he has done for us. Sometimes we'll have something going this way and all of a sudden, it looks as if some dramatic thing has happened to turn it the other way. And what do we say? It was just an amazing, it was like a coincidence.
Here's what I've been learning in my life. The more things that I pray about, the more coincidences happen. Because Jesus is on his throne, you can press forward with endurance, and you can pray. Let me tell you one of the things I have learned as a pastor, Jesus does not answer 100% of the prayers we do not pray. He does not answer 100% of the prayers we do not pray. The Bible says we have not because we ask not. Who are we praying to? Not a priest in a church, not a pastor in a pulpit. We're praying to the Lord God Almighty, the King of kings and the Lord of lords who is seated at the right hand of the Father, who even now is making intercession for us.
So, the Scripture says, "Let us come boldly", and the word means to lay it all out, to tell him everything. Let us come boldly to the throne of grace. Here's number four, anticipate him through all your days. Do you know that in the very center of New Jerusalem, there is something to behold? Revelation 22:1 says, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb".
What's the central thing when you get to heaven? You walk in and it's like, in the center of it all is the throne of God. Try to imagine the center of that glorious city, the spectacular throne of God, Jesus sitting there at the headwaters of the crystal river that flows throughout the city, and all the anticipation that should bring to our hearts. No wonder the chapter ends with the words, "Even so come Lord Jesus".
His name was Robert Strauss. He was a brilliant political strategist who served under several presidents from Jimmy Carter to George H. W. Bush. He is quoted as saying, "This is the most accurate description of Washington I have read ever". He said, "Everybody in government is like a bunch of ants on a log floating down the river. Each one thinks he's guiding the log, but it's really just going with the flow".
Isn't that what's going on right now? Each one of these ants think they're driving the ship. And the same could be said, not just for this time, but for the rulers of all history. All of these rulers have died or they will die, known as risen from the dead, all of them have dominated the headlines for a period but none is divided history in two. The rulers of this world enjoy limited authority for a limited time. Only Jesus possesses infinite authority for all eternity.
Many rulers have improved the quality of life for their subjects, but only Jesus can give you eternal life that will take you to heaven. Except for him, all leaders are flawed. Many have unleashed wars, triggered riots, annihilated opponents, bankrupted treasuries, and acted as fools. Others have exhibited great courage and demonstrated legendary leadership, like Abraham Lincoln. After Abraham Lincoln died, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton looked down at him in his deathbed and said, "Now he belongs to the ages". But only one King I ever heard about belongs to eternity.
Jesus doesn't belong to the ages, he belongs to eternity. He reigns peerless in time. He's the King of an endless empire. He rules above the stars and within our hearts. He's the King of kings, and he is the Lord of lords. And I hear S.M. Lockridge saying, "That's my King. That's my King".
We come to the end of this series. Let us be reminded that Jesus is the Son of Man, and he is the Son of God. He is both from eternity and he is from history. He's in the Old Testament, yes, he is, and he's in the New. He's praying for us while we're praying to him. And while we are seeking him, he is seeking us. He enables us to do greater works than he ever did. He's both the teacher of the truth and the truth to be taught. While he resides up there, he is present down here. He is living, even though he died and he is the King of the Jews, and he is the King of kings, hallelujah.