Every kingdom has a monarch, the person who rules over that particular kingdom, and in this regard the kingdom of God is no exception. However, it is unique concerning who its king is: the kingdom of God is the rule of God the Father exercised through the king he has appointed to reign – Jesus Christ.
The title ‘Christ’ is important for understanding and appreciating Jesus as king of the kingdom. Note that: Christ is a title; his name is Jesus (which means ‘the Lord saves’). His title is literally ‘the Christ’ or ‘the Messiah’. They both mean the same thing (Messiah comes from the Hebrew and Christ is its Greek equivalent). They mean ‘the Anointed One’ – the title used in the Old Testament to describe the king, who was anointed with oil (which symbolised the Holy Spirit) to rule the kingdom on God’s behalf. Sadly, not every king acted in this way. David, however, was Israel’s greatest king; that is why Gabriel said to Mary about the son she would bear “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). Jesus wouldn’t be the natural king of a geographic, earthly kingdom; he would be born, grow, live, die, rise again and ascend to heaven as the king of the kingdom of God!
The coming king
Several hundred years before Jesus was born, Daniel interpreted king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream regarding the giant statue that was felled by a small stone which eventually became a mountain and filled the whole earth (Daniel chapter 2). He prophesied about the kingdom God would establish through Jesus:
…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed…it will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44)
This reminds us of the characteristics of the kingdom we saw in an earlier article. Let’s mention one more incident in Daniel: in chapter seven we see someone called the Son of Man – a human being – led into the presence of the Ancient of Days (God):
He was given authority to rule, and glory and a kingdom; so that people of every nation and language should worship him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14).
This is why Jesus described himself as the Son of Man throughout the Gospels; in doing so he was declaring himself to be this person mentioned in Daniel. He said he was the king of God’s kingdom, the Messiah/the Christ – the Anointed King.
Jesus described a king
The New Testament plainly shows that Jesus is a king:
- He was a king by natural descent – he came from a line of kings (Matthew 1:6);
- He was born a king (Matthew 2:2);
- He claimed to be the king of a kingdom (John 18:36-37);
- He died a king: (John 19:19);
- He rose and ascended to heaven a king: (Hebrews 1:3); and
- He is called the King of kings – the king over all other kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
Jesus acted as a king
If we understand that the kingdom of God is God’s rule exercised through his king Jesus, then in the Gospels we will see how Jesus exercised his kingly rule. He demonstrated his kingship in his teaching and actions. He ruled over:
- Diseases (Matthew 4:23);
- Evil spirits (Mark 5:1-17);
- Creation (Mark 4:39);
- Satan (Luke 16:13);
- His enemies (John 7:30); and
- Death (John 11:43-44).
The present king
Of course, Jesus is the king of the kingdom now. When he ascended to heaven “he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High” (Hebrews 1:3). The New Testament is full of references to the fact that Jesus rules and reigns now over all things and all people. One of the most remarkable is found in Ephesians, where Paul writes:
[God] demonstrated his power in the Messiah by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens – far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put everything under his feet… (Ephesians 1:20-22)
So right now Jesus is actively ruling over all things as the King of the kingdom. Through his sinless life, his death and resurrection, and his ascension, he has conquered all his enemies and now sits in triumph and victory on his heavenly throne. This wonderful reality is expressed in us his disciples by our faith in him and our declaration that ‘Jesus is Lord’!