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Volume 10, Issue 3: Stauron

The Cross of the Reigning King

James Nance

God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Acts 2:36
Jesus of Nazareth was crucified King of the Jews, as the sign on the cross proclaimed. Some who read the message put their trust in Him " Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom " while others scoffed at Him because of it"If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself." But it was to become King that He was born, as the angel declared: "The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:32-33, cf. John 18:37). Jesus, son of David, came to take His place on His Father's throne.
Now, we recognize that as the Second Person of the Trinity He has always reigned and always will reign as King of all (Isaiah 6:5; Psalm 47), and especially as King of His people Israel (Psalm 149:2; Isaiah 44:6). That kingship being exhaustive and eternal (Psalm 103:19), what is the significance of His gaining the throne of David? If, as God the Son, Jesus was, is, and always will be King of all creation, what is the purpose of His messianic kingdom?
To answer that question, however briefly, we must consider God's original purpose for man. God created man to rule over the world, to "fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). "What is man?" David asked of God. "You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:4,6). God purposed to give the kingship of the world to man under Him, a purpose which could not be thwarted in spite of man's sin and rebellion. In His grace God covenanted with man, to bring him out of sin and give to him the nations. God worked this promise through the Jews, first through Abraham (Gen. 22:18, cf. Gal. 3:8; Rom. 4:13), later through David (2 Sam. 7:13; Psalm 89:35-36). A son of David, son of Abraham, was to have the eternal throne. Thus the King of the world came as King of the Jews. The Jews were His chosen people, chosen to be the proclaimers of the kingdom and the means by which He brought His King to the nations. Jesus reigns, not only as the eternal God, but as a Man. A son of Abraham, one of us, is now King of all, seated on His throne at the right hand of God.
God the Father promised this to His Son: "The Lord said to my Lord, `Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.' The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion, rule in the midst of your enemies!" (Psalm 110:1-2). This kingdom, in one respect, is a spiritual kingdom, which only those born of the Spirit may enter (John 3:3-5). It is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heavenspiritual and present, not earthly and future. "Now when asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, `The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!" For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you'" (Luke 17:21). Its citizens are those whom God has delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:13), a kingdom of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). This kingdom starts small and grows, like a mustard seed growing into a tree, like a small amount of yeast working through the dough (Matt. 13:31-33), for not all of His enemies are put under Him at once; not all His citizens enter together. This kingdom will grow until it encompasses the world, for God sent His Son into the world "that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). As Isaiah prophesied, "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice, from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isa. 9:7).
The kingship of Christ is eternal, for His church is His body and will always need its Head. Yet there is one respect in which His kingdom will be given up, as Paul writes: "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:24-25). Jesus, at His resurrection, was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). He was given this authority that as the Messiah He might have sovereign control of all things, in order that nothing could hinder the growth of His spiritual kingdom throughout the earth. Knowing that He rules the universe for the good of His church, we can with confidence obey His command to extend His kingdom: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). Christ's return is the end of His reign over the universe, since His duties in extending and defending His spiritual kingdom will then be accomplished. His enemies will have been put under His feet, and when that last enemy is destroyed by the resurrection of the dead, "then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28).

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