The Glorified King
Some tell us that Jesus’ earthly life was not very important. They say He wrote no books, composed no songs, drew no pictures, carved no statues, accumaleted no fortune, commanded no army and ruled no nation. And yet…He Who never wrote a book has been made the Hero of unnumbered volumes. He Who never wrote a song has put music into the hearts of nameless multitudes. He Who never drew a picture has captured the imagination of many artists to give an image of who the Lord of lords became to them. He Who never established an institution is the foundation of the Church that bears His name. He Who refused the kingdoms of this world, has become the Lord of millions. Yes, He Whose shameful death scarcely produced a ripple on the pool of history in His day has become a mighty current in the vast ocean of the centuries since He died. This is the irony of Christ our King and His reign. He is, without doubt, the most famous King of all history in spite of the differences with which our world measure greatness. No one before Him and no one after Him can ever be compared to Him. He is Christ the Lord, the glorified Son of God; God Himself to Whom multitudes will sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Rev. 5: 12
On this Christ the King Sunday we look at the reality of the world we live in. There are thousands who do not acknowledge Jesus as King. They say openly, “We do not share your sentiments of an outdated King; we are just not captured with the fairy tale of your Jesus.” Why my friends are there the thousands who just do not believe what we believe? Because they want to create their own rule – “We the people of the world will place on the throne the person we find competent.” It wasn’t much different in the days of John. There was the Roman Empire with emperors that earned the highest position and they were seen as gods – people worshipped them. But in the midst of human rule God gave the revelation of His Son to John. From this first chapter there are profound truths we’re going to share this morning.
First there is The Preparation To Meet The King Of Kings. Revelation 1: 9, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” Imagine with me for a moment how you would feel if you had just received an unjust sentence. You will be transported to the Alcatraz of Asia Minor – a desolate island about six miles wide and ten miles long. You will not be permitted to leave that island. There you will be thrown in with hardened criminals in the mines and quarries and even though you are old and physically weak you will be required to labor. Imagine the thoughts that would run through your mind as you stand on the ship with murderers and thieves approaching this island just 15 miles west Ephesus. Will this rocky island called Patmos be the place where you die? Why has God allowed this in your life? That was the reality for John, a faithful servant of Jesus. He must have thought about his decision to give his life to the cause of this Jesus. All the other apostles paid the ultimate prize – only he was spared, but why? Wasn’t the torture going to be worse? But you see John didn’t know what God was about to do. His revelation of the end times with the reign of His Son, Jesus Christ, was about to be given to the apostle. In the midst of hopelessness and after he had been stripped of everything, God opened to an old man heaven and its glory. And the essence of this glory for John to observe was Jesus. How different are God’s ways from our ways, my friends? We as people of the world would prepare ourselves to meet a king by putting up flags and banners; we would make sure that the route the king is going to follow will be immaculate – cleanup will get high priority. And then the banquet in honor of the king will be out of this world. But God waits until prestige and glamour cease and then He makes His move in this world. Let’s take ourselves back to the night Jesus was born – only the simple and ordinary were prepared for His coming. I believe that presently God the Father is preparing the hearts of His people for the return of His Son. And the way He does it is where they live their ordinary lives. The poorer we are in human spirit the better we will be prepared for the coming of the King. We do not need to keep up with the high society of this world. I vividly recall what a lady in a Care Home expressed one day when I visited her, “O I wish we can return to the simple lives we once had before God and get rid of all the pretence.” I quite often think of her comment and wonder if we aren’t too much caught up in this world with many things and it prevents us to prepare ourselves for the return of our Lord. Let’s answer the question – “How ready are we for Jesus’ return?” And let’s add the following, “How can we prepare the world for meeting the King of kings?” O my friends, we can never neglect to speak up; to testify about what God has placed in our hearts – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4: 17.
The second truth God revealed to John was that of Jesus As Saviour. We read in verses 12 and 13, “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a Son of Man, dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest.” John saw Jesus as one “like a Son of Man” retaining His humanity but in a glorified state. It is so incomprehensible for any human mind that the eternal God – the Creator of heaven and earth – the divine Son of God, would so identify with you and me that He would portray Himself in human form to John. In the state He found Himself as the King of heaven and earth, His humiliation and disgrace were over. No one would expect from Him to still have the connotation of what happened to Him on earth. But that is what the King we worship is all about – Redeemer and Savior. His whole identity was and is to save. John describes what the King was wearing – “…a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest.” John saw Him dressed in the priestly robe. He wasn’t only revealing Himself as the King of kings, but as a High Priest Who sacrificed Himself on the altar. What an unique King, we bow before this morning? Any other king would have given something or someone else as a sacrifice, but not Jesus. How comforting it must have been for John in this vision when he recognized the Redeemer King between the golden lampstands? Though this was only a vision John received, it was an experience as real as one could ever have. The King of all kings came first of all to affirm, “I have given my life and my blood to save people for eternity.” Again I think of the words in the song, “Who am I?” – “Who am I that The King would bleed and die for?” My friends, we will never be able to comprehend why Jesus, our King, did it, but we rejoice in our Savior. With Job we cry out, “I know my Redeemer lives and in the end He will stand upon the earth.” Job 19: 25
There is a third and last truth John brings to us this morning – Jesus Our King Will Come As Judge. Revelation 1: 14-16, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” “And His eyes were like blazing fire...” That tells us that at the end of time there will be One to be in a position to judge the living and the dead. His eyes will penetrate and see everything for what it really is. This thought my friends seems so intimidating and condemning, but for those living as the redeemed in Christ, there will be no fear. Those eyes will only affirm that they all accepted the Lordship of the King in their lives.
In Romans 8: 1 Paul says “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But my friends for those who choose not to be in Christ there will be condemnation. John says “His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace…” Bronze is associated with judgment in the Bible. It was on the bronze altar where the sacrifices were laid in the Old Testament. At the bronze laver the priests cleansed themselves. The book of Revelation is based upon Old Testament imagery and can only be understood with that foundation.
Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday of the year and some might think, “How negative to think of the King that will come to judge.” But you know my friends it’s not God’s intention to scare people of the world of. No, with Advent beginning next Sunday and with Christmas 5 weeks away God says, “Give my Son the rightful place in your life. Acknowledge Him as King.” May we always do that – in our personal lives, in our families, in the Church of Christ and in the world.