Saturday, March 23, 2024

The King and His Kingdom

Jesus made an important claim by his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. His claim would be contested throughout that week and vindicated by his resurrection on the next Sunday. This claim was that Jesus is the promised son of David, the king of Israel, the Christ.

Jesus had come to Jerusalem for Passover. As he approached the Mount of Olives, he purposefully arranged for his triumphant entry on the donkey’s colt, in accord with Zechariah 9:9 and Genesis 49:11. He did not hold back, but openly declared himself as the promised Christ by his actions and by receiving the praises of the people. Matthew and Luke both recount how Jesus defended the crowd against grumbling Pharisees. “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). His disciples and fellow pilgrims praised him as the son of David, the king of Israel, he who comes in the name of the Lord, shouting Hosanna! and laying their cloaks and palm branches before him.

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10) 

Jesus is a blessed king of a blessed kingdom. The people rightfully exalted Jesus the king and his Davidic kingdom. Your king has come to you, therefore receive him with joy!

You Need This King

Without King Jesus, people go their own rebellious ways, liable to deception, destruction, and the devil.

The need for a king to rule God’s people is made evident in Scripture in the disorder in the days of the judges and the disorder accompanying the apostasy of David’s heirs and their overthrow in judgment. A remnant was saved by faith in God’s promise to establish the reign of David’s son, but they earnestly desired to see him come and establish “the coming kingdom of our father David.”

The common metaphor for a ruler in Scripture is that of a shepherd. Thus, when the Davidic kings failed to rule well under God, God described the people as sheep without a shepherd. “So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts” (Ezekiel 34:5). Without the Lord’s anointed king, people are like sheep without a shepherd, scattered on the hillsides, everyone going his own way, torn to pieces by the wolves and lions.

Driven by depravity - everyone going his own way, in bondage to sin, exposed to danger. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (Is. 53:6). “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.” (Jer. 50:6).

Liable to deception - walking in ignorance, following idols, false teaching, sensuality, led by wolves in sheep’s clothing and the world’s rebellion.

Liable to destruction - condemnation and death, as sheep get devoured by wild beasts. “Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones” (Jeremiah 50:17). These “lions” were instruments of God’s judgment. So the ways of sin end in death and hell.

Liable to the devil’s domain - he seizes those who follow his ways, tyrannizing over them by the fear of death, leading them deeper in ignorance and depravity, refusing to let them go to serve the Lord. He is the father of lies, the murderer from the beginning, the evil one. He seeks to stir up the forces of evil to destroy the church and to keep people from serving the Lord.

We need a merciful and mighty king to deliver and defend us.

The misery, disorder, and and despair that exists in the domain of darkness is on display before us every day. Behold the confusion, perversion, anxiety, and suffering of the world around you and see a world in need of Christ the king. 

Let this thought drive you to compassion for those who are like sheep without a shepherd, as it provoked compassion from our Lord. Let this thought drive you to gratitude for having such a king to deliver you. Let this thought drive you to greater devotion to your king. May we not neglect the benefits of his reign. May we follow the voice of our shepherd cheerfully, delighting in his government and protection. 

This King Is Good

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9, Ps. 118:26, a messianic reference). Jesus is the good king, the good shepherd (John 10).

His gentleness and mercy

Jesus assumed this mediatorial kingship for the sake of sinners. “…you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (John 17:2). He is gentle, lowly in heart, inviting all to come to him and find rest (Zech. 9:9, Mt. 11:28-30). He came on the donkey’s colt, with all sorts with him: fishermen, children, healed blind men, etc. He is merciful, showing compassion to those who call on him (Mark 10:46-52). He speaks peace to his people and the nations (Zech. 9:9-10)

His power and efficacy

Jesus spoke with authority and power, as when he healed the blind man and cursed the fig tree (Mark 10:52, 11:12-14). He gives true rest to the believing and humble. He sends judgment on the impenitent. Though he conquered through weakness on the cross, yet in this way he would powerfully cast out the evil one and draw all men to himself (John 12). He is able to deliver, secure, govern, and reward.

His person is excellent, his words are gracious, his power is great and majestic, his throne is forever (Psalm 45:1-8a). “Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you” (Psalm 45:5).

This king is good, he is both merciful and powerful. He rode to Jerusalem to deliver his people from their sins by his humiliating death on a cross. He would be rejected by the builders that he might become the cornerstone.

His Blessed Kingdom Has Come

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” The kingdom of Jesus is the “coming kingdom of our father David” - the promised kingdom.

In Ezekiel 37:22-28, we find it prophesied that David (i.e. his heir) would be king over all God’s people forever. They would all have one shepherd, as when Israel lived under David and Solomon. They would walk in God’s rules and dwell securely in the land. God’s dwelling place would be established among the people.

In Jeremiah 23:5-6, we find it prophesied the Lord would raise up a righteous Branch for David who would deal wisely, reign as king, and execute justice and righteousness in the land. “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.”

In Amos 9:11-12 (cp. Acts 15:16-17), we find it prophesied that the fallen tent of David would be rebuilt and restored and that the rest of mankind would seek the Lord.

Jesus is this king, the king of God's covenant people. He is not only “the king” but “your king” if you place your faith in him. Both truths are important, but comfort from knowing that Jesus is king comes from the fact that he is your king.

The people of his kingdom are under his protection. The king gives peace and rest to his subjects, and the subjects obey and honor their king. Within his kingdom is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. His kingdom is like a tree in which which all the birds can come and take refuge.

Inward and Outward Rule

Jesus inwardly governs his people by the Spirit. He conquers their hearts so that they willingly offer themselves to him and receive his pardon by faith. He rules their hearts and inwardly leads them to walk in his ways. He writes his laws on your hearts. He thereby leads his people to practice justice, walking together in the paths of righteousness.

Jesus visibly governs his people by outward means. He rules through his word, his officers, and the keys of the kingdom. He makes these ordinances effectual by the Spirit. The church is the institutional expression of the kingdom of Christ. The church is a monarchy and Christ is its king. He organizes his people as a kingdom and he governs them using these outward means. He gave the keys of the kingdom to the visible church, to be administered by the shepherds he has given the church.

Gathering and Governing

As king, Jesus gathers sinners into his kingdom by his word and Spirit. He bestows saving grace on his elect. He offers pardon to rebels as they enlist under his banner. He saves the lost sheep and brings them into his fold, into the kingdom. There is safety in the sheepfold, in the care of the shepherd.

Jesus then rules his people as a shepherd does his sheep, for their good. He governs his people by rewarding their obedience, correcting their sins, preserving them through trials, restraining and overcoming their enemies, and ordering all things for his glory and their good.

Its Aim and Destiny

Christ’s claims and rights are universal. On the basis of his death, he has been given all authority. He claims all nations, all stations, all of life. He aims at nothing less that the subjection of the world to God. Let all people bow before the king and follow him! Let all rulers fall down before him, all nations serve him!

This kingdom will grow in this age such that all nations will be blessed in him. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen. 49:10-11). “...he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zech. 9:10). The nations are his and he will have them. Those who reject him will be overthrown. 

The kingdom will be perfected when he returns to judge the living and the dead. His people will be blessed in the eternal glory of the kingdom with their God. 

Therefore, rejoice in the kingdom of our father David! It has been established by Jesus Christ!

May we not neglect this kingdom, but press into it and participate cheerfully in its life. Place your faith in the king and obey him with devout allegiance. Treat him as your king and treat his subjects as fellow citizens. Invite others into this kingdom, to enjoy its blessings with you.

This kingdom is not bound to any location. It can be taken from the ungrateful and given to others. So may we pray and work for its greater manifestation here. Let us maintain and spread the preaching of the gospel to the saved and the lost. Let us swell the assemblies of the saints. Let us observe and maintain the observance of the Lord’s Day, the right use of the sacraments, the exercise of church discipline and shepherding, and the Christian training of children.

Serve the king. May we offer ourselves freely to him and his direction. Observe and promote joyful service to Christ in your household. Serve King Jesus in everything you do, from the monumental to the mundane. Let everyone in every station do everything in submission to the reign of Christ and to promote the reign of Christ. Everyone from kings and queens to children has something to do.


What is the basis of this kingship? By what right does Christ gather sinners into this kingdom, giving them pardon, renewing them unto righteousness? By what right does he speak peace to the nations, who lay under a curse and the domain of darkness? He does this by right of redemption through his blood, by giving his life as a ransom for many. By his death, he crushed the serpent’s head and secured redemption for his people. Thus he rode to Jerusalem, the king who would rescue his people, the shepherd who would lay down his life for the sheep. For “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). To our merciful King be all honor and glory and blessing, forever and ever!

Friday, March 22, 2024

A Christian Nation? - American Presbyterians (1850-1950)

In preparing for a lesson in my series on American Presbyterian history, "A Christian Nation?," I thought I would share a few resources from four Presbyterian seminary professors between 1850 and 1950 on the relation of Christianity to civil government and society. Nearly all these resources are available online (click on the links to find the resources), thanks to the Log College Press and Westminster Media.

Charles Hodge of Princeton Theological Seminary

“The Sabbath Laws” in his Systematic Theology, vol. III (1873), pages 340-348

“Province of the Church” (1859), in Discussions in Church Polity, pages 100-106. 

James H. Thornwell of Columbia Theological Seminary

Relation of the State to Christ” (1861)

A.A. Hodge of Princeton Theological Seminary

“The Kingly Office of Christ,” “The Kingdom of Christ,” and “The Law of the Kingdom” in Popular Lectures on Theological Themes (1887), currently published by Banner of Truth as Evangelical Theology. I have posted quotes from these before, here, here, and here

John Murray of Westminster Theological Seminary

The Christian World Order” (1943)

“The Church – Its Identity, Function, and Resources" (not available online in full, but see quoted paragraph here)