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Jesus Christ is King of kings

[N.B. Given the tumultuous times we live in, I thought this sermon might be profitable to repost. I wrote and preached this sermon in July, as the supposed "second wave" was being preached by the secular media and turncoat pseudochristian leaders. I hope it is a blessing to you, an encouragement to keep trusting our Sovereign King. In this world we will have tribulation, but take heart - the Lamb of God has overcome.]

Matt 28:16-20 –

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It has been a while since I last stood before you and shared from the Word of God, so I want to refresh our memory. While we have spent a good deal of time in Mark, the last sermon I preached was on Psalm 8. In that psalm, we learned that the person and work of Christ Jesus is the center of Revelation. And he is revealed to us as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Ruler of all creation. We also learned that he is the one who will completely fulfill that original creation mandate in Genesis which tells all of us to be fruitful, multiply, take dominion over the earth, and subdue it. He is the Second Adam, the Last Adam who will do what neither Adam nor any of us can do.

But we also learned that this doesn’t mean we are to no longer live in a manner that seeks to fulfill the creation ordinance. We are still commanded to be fruitful, multiply, take dominion over the earth, and subdue it. We do so from a heart of gratitude, however, because we have been redeemed by the Lord from heaven whose righteousness has been imputed to us. We are accounted as those who have fulfilled the law, for our sins have been imputed to him on the cross of Calvary, and his righteousness has been imputed to us through the instrument of faith alone.

Lastly, we learned that we are currently being conformed to the image of Christ, and that we will reflect his image perfectly in the age to come. At that time, we will no longer be in mortal conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We will no longer have to mortify the flesh, for all things will be made new. Our spirits will be made sinless, our bodies immortal.
There will be neither external nor internal temptations. The righteousness of the Lord will be evident in our Lord’s defeat of all of his foes, as all of them are placed under his foot, judged, and cast into everlasting torment.

Christ, we learned, is Lord of all. And this is what our text today, and the other passages of Scripture we will look at, is telling us clearly. All things were made by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. He is not merely the Last Adam, he is the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords. There is no past, present, or future authority that is not subject to our God and Savior, Jesus Messiah.

So while there is a glorious future that awaits us, as we saw in Psalm 8, there is a present reality we need to remember lest we lose heart as we await our Lord’s return. What is that reality? That Christ
has been given, past tense, all authority in heaven and on earth. And why has this been given to the Son of Man upon his ascension to heaven?

Christ tells us very clearly when he says – therefore.

Let’s look at our text again, this time starting with verse 18, instead of verse 16, or Matthew 28.

18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Christ is Lord of lords, and King of kings – the Lord of heaven and earth who raises one nation up and demolishes another for the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit as he gathers all of his sheep through the preaching of the Gospel by his ordained ministers.

Our Lord makes clear in John 17:1-5. There we read –

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The Father is glorified by the Son in the Son’s exercise of authority over all flesh, and in the salvation of his elect people. The Father glorifies the Son, the Son glorifies the Father, as the Glorious Spirit of God makes clear to us over and again. We see this same truth again in Philippians 2:5-11, where we read –

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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.

The reciprocal mutual glorification of the divine persons of the Godhead  – Father and Son and Holy Spirit – is also see in 1st Corinthians 15:20-28, where the apostle Paul refutes the Corinthian heretics who denied the resurrection of the dead, saying –

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

John Gill, commenting on this glorious passage explains –

by God is not meant the Father personally, but God essentially considered, Father, Son, and Spirit, who are the one true and living God; to whom all the saints will have immediate access, in whose presence they will be, and with whom they shall have uninterrupted fellowship, without the use of such mediums as they now enjoy; all the three divine Persons will have equal power and government in and over all the saints; they will sit upon one and the same throne; there will be no more acting by a delegated power, or a derived authority: God will be all things to all his saints, immediately without the use of means; he will be that to their bodies as meat and clothes are, without the use of them; and all light, glory, and happiness to their souls, without the use of ordinances, or any means; he will then be all perfection and bliss, to all the elect, and in them all, which he now is not; some are dead in trespasses and sins, and under the power of Satan; the number of them in conversion is not yet completed; and, of those that are called many are in a state of imperfection, and have flesh as well as spirit in them; and of those who are fallen asleep in Christ, though their separate spirits are happy with him, yet their bodies lie in the grave, and under the power of corruption and death; but then all being called by grace, and all being raised, and glorified in soul and body, God will be all in all: this phrase expresses both the perfect government of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, over the saints to all eternity, and their perfect happiness in soul and body, the glory of all which will be ascribed to God; and it will be then seen that all that the Father has done in election, in the council and covenant of peace, were all to the glory of his grace; and that all that the Son has done in the salvation of his people, is all to the glory of the divine perfections: and that all that the Spirit of God has wrought in the saints, and all that they have done under his grace and influence, are all to the praise and glory of God, which will in the most perfect manner be given to the eternal Three in One.

If this does not make your heart leap within you, I don’t know what can. The immeasurable grace of God is on full display – wicked sinners unconditionally elected, freely saved, faithfully sanctified, finally glorified in body and soul, and set to rule and reign with our Maker who became man for our sake, took our curse upon himself, becoming sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. The indefatigable justice of God is on full display as well – the unregenerate rulers of this world finally trampled under the Son of Man’s foot, the reprobate justly condemned to the lake of fire forever, God’s wrath poured out eternally on his enemies.

Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth to bring about this glorious state of affairs, and though we are dealing with illnesses, corrupt governments, death, and a rapidly increasing hatred of our God and his people – we know that he is with us unto the end of the age. What is happening is not beyond his control. He has ordained it. The whittling down of many churches, as professing Christians abandon the truth of Scripture for the wicked lies of Marxism, Communism, Postmodernism, and antichrist philosophers is part of God’s unfolding plan, and it is under the control of our God and Savior Christ Jesus. Christ is ruling from heaven, and by his Spirit he dwells within us, with us, and will do son until he returns in the flesh to dash the nations with a judgment rod of iron. John 14:1-3 –

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

[skipping down to verses 15-18, our Lord further states]

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

We are not orphans, but are the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For, as Paul tells us in Gal 4:4-6,

when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

We are not orphans. We are strangers in a foreign land, but it is a land over which our King rules without true opposition. His will is being done on earth, as it is in heaven. So let’s say: Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Until our Lord returns, however, how are we to then live? Let’s consider several truths, derived from our texts today.

1. Christ is the Only King of kingsThroughout the ancient world, the title “King of kings” was used by various ancient near eastern kings to emphasize that they were the highest political authority in the land. The phrase, apparently, was initially used by an Assyrian king, and by Assyrian rulers when they installed themselves as kings over the already existing rulers in a newly conquered land. And there were other titles that were even more boastful. For instance, the last king of Bablyon – and please note the irony here, he was the last king of Bablyon – this last king of Babylon referred to himself not only as “king of kings” but also as “king of the gods” and “king of the gods of the heavens and the underworld.” In their desire to be God, they ascribed absolute sovereignty to themselves, but God killed all of these false deities. He slew them and abolished their kingdoms, rendering them mere footnotes to the history of the universe. And we read about this in Scripture, don’t we?

The Pharaohs of Egypt called themselves gods and the sole high priests of their kingdoms, mediating between the people and the gods. They did this before Moses’ time, and during his time. And yet, as Paul reminds us in Romans 9:17

..the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

God has repeatedly raised up powerful men for this very purpose – to demonstrate his wrath, his power, and his justice. Pharaoh was destroyed, his kingdom obliterated, and his deities shown to be nothing but figments of the minds of reprobate men.

Nebuchadnezzar, likewise, wanted every knee to bow before his golden image and worship him. But God took away not only Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, but his humanity, reducing this false deity to an unkempt, mentally deranged, animal.

During the time of the early church, and for some time after that, we see numerous rulers rise up in Rome and declare themselves to be deities, the sons of God, physical incarnations of God who deserved to be worshiped by all people, most notably our brothers and sisters in Christ at that time. But God destroyed those men, abolished their kingdoms, and continued to save his elect.

Over time, much later, we see the popes of Rome following in the footsteps of their father Lucifer. Identifying themselves as all three persons of the Godhead – Holy Father, Head of the Church, Vicar of Christ – and, because they claimed to be the visible head of the church on earth, they also assumed themselves to have absolute authority in heaven and on earth. Like their spiritually predecessors, they made themselves the only high priest men and God. And like at other times, we see our Lord sent his Word, the preaching of the Gospel, struck those papal antichrists, and dealt a mortal wound to the so-called church of Rome. And he continued to send his Word, the Gospel, preached by faithful men as he called forth his elect, saving men from an even wider range of people than before this time.

And we see a similar pattern over the years, don’t we? Totalitarian dictators and their regimes have arisen and sought to be God on earth, false christs, idols before whom they wanted all men to bow down, or face the consequences of death by fire, hanging, starvation, poisoning, and every other malicious form of punishment we can think of. But God destroyed all of these deluded men, and reduced their kingdoms to ashes. He has done to those wicked men what he has promised he will do to their father the devil. Isaiah 14:5-20 –

The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,

the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.

The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’

Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.

All of them will answer
and say to you:

‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’

All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.

You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.

There is only one King of kings and Lord of lords, and his name is the Word of God. He was, he is, and he is to come. And we await him, looking heavenward as we sojourn here in the meantime.

2. We Take our Orders from Christ, and Christ Alone – Ultimately, only Christ is our King. Caesar’s authority only extends as far he is in agreement with the supreme lawgiver of the Universe – God Almighty. And so, ultimately, we take our orders from Christ, not Caesar. It is Jesus who tells us what is moral and what is immoral. It is the Son of Man who tells us how to love our neighbor. It is the Jehovah the Son who even tells us what we can and cannot eat. God tells us when we can and cannot work. He tells us when we can and cannot worship. In his Word, he has made the contours of his kingdom known, and he calls us his royal and kingly priests.

Daniel and his friends refused not merely to be idolaters, but to sin against God by eating what was forbidden them. And lest we think this was limited to the Old Testament, we see Peter being rebuked for refusing to eat what he was told was not forbidden. And what does Paul say in 1st Corinthians 10:31? Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we are to do this to the glory of God. And this means in the manner which he has prescribed – explicitly or implicitly – in his Word.

It is Christ who tells us we are free to preach throughout the whole world, for it is his, under Sovereign reign. Jesus Christ is Lord, the Sovereign Lord of all flesh who is hardening the reprobate and calling his sheep unto himself even now. Christ is Lord over our bodies and souls. He alone dictates what is right and wrong. And all who disagree with him, who set themselves up in their deluded minds as king of kings and lord of lords – as we saw from our brief historical recap – are setting themselves up for eternal punishment.

So whatever we do is, first and foremost, done to glorify God. And that means it is done according to what God has explicitly or implicitly declared to be glorifying to him. Has God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and take dominion over it? He has. And so we must obey him. Has God commanded us to work six days and rest on the seventh? He has. And so we must obey him. Has God told us not to be fear those who can kill the body but after that cannot kill the soul? He has. And so let us fear him and not men, even those in power. Scripture is clear – He alone raises men up, and lowers princes in the dust. And still, we can even say that the regal seal of God’s Sovereign signet ring is stamped on all of recorded history as well.

Christ is our King. Our allegiance is to the only wise and Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords.

And the reason for this is simple – he created us, elected us unto salvation, and saved us by his shed blood on the cross of Calvary. He, Peter says, has made us who were not a people a people for himself. He has made us, John tells us, a priestly kingdom. We have received grace upon grace upon grace – and it is our rational duty, our most reasonable service, to show our gratitude by loving him as he has decreed.

Soli Deo Gloria