The Hebrew Bible paints a picture of a coming Messiah who will hold a combination of three offices, that of Prophet, Priest, and King. It is the last office, the office of King, that I want to focus on in this article.
One of the reasons I want to focus on Jesus’ role as King, is because I think we tend to focus more on Jesus as Priest; Jesus as our intercessor; Jesus as our Savior. And I do not mean in any way diminish the importance of this role. All three offices are of equal importance!
But since we do not live under the rule of a king in the 21st century, and we may think of Jesus as king of the Jewish people only, I think we may tend to miss the importance of this aspect of who He is.
Let’s look at:
- Jesus’ role as King.
- Our call to follow Him.
- The meaning of grace.
Jesus’ Role As King
- Understanding Jesus’ role as our King is vital to our understanding of His plan of salvation!
- Understanding Jesus’ role as our King is vital to our understanding of what heaven is!
- Understanding Jesus’ role as our King is vital to our understanding of what grace is!
To understand why the Messiah would be a king we have to go back to the beginning of the Bible, the book of Genesis. There we find God’s plan for the human race was to dwell in fellowship with God, in an ever-expanding paradise, and have dominion on earth as God’s image bearers. Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden/temple—which is called paradise–because of their sin. Rather than expanding God’s rule over creation, Adam and Eve’s offspring spread sin, violence, and death.
The Bible tells the story of God’s plan to return the human race to paradise.
What is paradise? What is heaven?
Heaven is the kingdom of God, sometimes called the kingdom of heaven. It is the place where God rules; it is the place where God’s will is accomplished perfectly.
God’s plan of salvation for the human race is to return us to paradise/heaven. God’s plan of salvation includes the forgiveness of our sin, and His enablement to live out His will for our lives! To enable us to live in paradise–and desire to live in paradise–living under His rule! That is what the Bible means by the phrase, being under grace, or saved by grace.
Heaven is the garden paradise that we were expelled from!
We don’t have to speculate too much about what it is. We can read a description of it in Revelation chapter’s 21-22. We will see in the description the Tree of life, God’s throne, water, gold, and the mountain of God! We speak of “going to heaven” but in fact, the Bible shows us in Revelation chapter’s 21-22 that heaven is coming to earth!
There are many prophecies in the Hebrew Bible of the coming Messiah; here are just a few:
God gave Adam and Eve a prophecy that one of her offspring would crush the head of the serpent, and in the process would be crushed Himself (Gen. 3:15).
Abraham’s son Jacob prophesied (Gen. 49:10-12) that a ruler would come from the tribe of Judah—the Messiah—and all people—the Gentile nations–would pay homage to Him.
God promised king David that He would raise up one of his descendants and establish the throne of His kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:12-13).
The angel Gabriel told Mary the mother of Jesus:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:26-33
What will the King do?
As Jesus was raised from the dead, so He will raise all who have followed Him to eternal life in His Kingdom when He establishes it in the New Heavens and Earth: (Note: I have said “follow Him” rather than “believed in Him” for a reason which I will explain.)
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Cor. 15:20-28
- Interpretation: The resurrected Son is reigning now as Lord; the Father will subdue the enemies of the Son under His feet; the Father is excepted from this–He is the One who does the subjecting. Once the Son’s enemies have been subjected under His feet, the Son will subject all things to the Father, so that God may be “all in all.”
- All those who have “died” with Christ, ie., repented of their sins and given Him their lives—lost their life of living for themselves—He will raise up with Him in the resurrection.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” Matt. 16:24-27
Our Call To Follow Him
Jesus has called all people everywhere to “Follow Him.”To follow Him means to become His disciple. To become His disciple means to follow His example and obey His commandments. To be His apprentice.
In fact, Jesus’ call to follow Him as a disciple includes some aspect of each of the offices of prophet, priest, and king that I have just described!
He has called us to a prophetic ministry—that of making disciples, being His witnesses, and warning others of the wrath to come. The Apostle Peter, in his sermon at Pentecost (Shavuot), stated that the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that they were witnessing was the fulfillment of a prophecy in the book of Joel: that of God’s Spirit being poured out empowering all of God’s people to prophesy!
“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this iswhat was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy.” Acts 2:15-18
He has called us to be a kingdom of priests:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 2 Pet. 2:9-10
He has called us to a kingly ministry—to rule and reign with Him:
“‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” Rev. 3:19-22
The Meaning of Grace
To understand the importance of Jesus’ role as king and life lived in the kingdom God, it is vital that we understand grace as the Bible defines it. I am afraid that some in the church have drifted from a Biblical understanding of grace to a perversion of it. The perversion goes something like this:
“When I asked Jesus into my heart, He forgave me of all my sins. I still sin, but since I am under grace, God just looks the other way and accepts me anyway. “Following commandments” and that kind of language is “legalism.” Since I am under grace, God makes no demands of my life. Being a Christian basically means just trying to be a good person.”
The Apostle Paul explains to us that being “under grace” means being free from sin, not free to sin. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with (made powerless), so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Rom. 6:1-14
- Being “under grace” means being set free from the guilt and the power of sin, and being empowered to become an “instrument of righteousness” in the hands of God through our death and resurrection with Jesus!
- The New Covenant is God fulfilling His promise to write His Law (Torah) on our hearts, and His enabling us to live according to His commandments by the power of the Holy Spirit! (Jer. 31:31-34, Eze. 36:25-37).
Why did I say “follow Him” instead of “believe in Him” earlier?
If I were to ask you the question, “Which is more important: trusting the Lord or obeying the Lord? How would you answer? If you answered, “There is no difference; they are one and the same.” You would be correct. They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot trust without obedience. Adam and Eve knew God’s commandment and will for them; they did not trust God, so they did not obey Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that the goal of his apostleship was to bring about “the obedience of faith” among the Gentiles (Rom. 1:5). To have faith is to obey.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matt. 7:21
How does this apply to us?
The passage we read earlier from Revelation, “Behold I stand at the door and knock” in context, has Jesus standing outside the door of the church at Laodicea. Think of it; Jesus standing outside the door of a church, knocking to see who will invite Him in a as Lord of their lives. Jesus is doing the same thing today. Will you invite Him in as King?
The call to follow Jesus as our King is a radical call! How do we answer that call?
God reveals His will for us through His word, the Bible.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Here is a list of questions that we should know the answer to, or be seeking the answer:
- What should be my relationship with my Bible? (Ps. 119:9-11) It is our most valuable possession!
- As a father, what is my relationship to my wife, my children, supposed to be? (Eph. 5:25-30, 6:4)
- As a wife, what is my relationship to my husband supposed to be? (Eph. 5:22-24)
- As a young person, what is my relationship with my parents supposed to be? (Eph. 6:1-3)
- As an employer, how am I to treat my employees? As an employee, how am I to do my job? (Eph. 6:5-9)
- What spiritual gifts has the Lord given me? How am I to use them? (1 Pet. 4:10-11, 1 Cor. 12-14) Don’t be a person who attends church for decades, and does not know what his or her spiritual gifts are, because they have never been willing to serve others in the church which is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth!
- What should my prayer life look like? What should I pray for? (read the Psalms, the prayers of Paul)
- How does the Lord want to use me as His witness to others? Sharing the gospel? (Matt. 28:18-20)
- What is God’s will for me regarding church attendance? (Heb. 10:23-25)
- What does the Bible have to say about money? (Matt. 6:2-4, 2 Cor. 9:6-7) Jesus had a lot to say about money!
May the Lord bless you and empower you to live for Him!
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Heb. 13:20-21