Knowing Jesus as King in the now and experiencing the glories of His kingdom in the now is the privilege of every son and daughter of God. If this is true, then we can count on spiritual opposition to this truth in many forms, even through well meaning teachers in the Church. I present this simple and incomplete study for those who want to know for sure what the scriptures teach re: this all important question.
I. Old Testament prophecies re: the Messiah/King
In Psalm 2:1-6 we see the first (I think) prophetic portrait of Jesus as King. God the Father in vs. 6 says He has installed (past tense) “My King”. The emphasis or relevance of His kingship in this passage is His rule over other kings/government leaders.
In Isaiah 9:6,7 we see the establishment of Christ’s government. Note in vs. 7 the timing, “From then on and forevermore”. Isn’t the timing of -“…the government will rest (literally “be”) on His shoulders” and “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,…Prince of Peace” the same? Should we stop calling Him the Prince of Peace on Christmas cards until the Millennium or until His return?
In Isaiah 11:1-5 do we not see references to the earthly ministry of Christ? Granted vs. 6 seems to speak of the Milennium or the New Heavens and New Earth. But it is not unlike Isaiah to flip around like that.
In Isaiah 42:1,3,4 we see no reference to a future more perfect state; most believe this speaks of His earthly and present ministry on the earth.
In Zechariah 9:9 when he speaks of Israel’s king coming to them in the third line, does he (Zechariah) not describe how he will come in the fourth line (humble, and mounted on a donkey)? Just because Israel as a whole rejected him (there were wonderful exceptions to this), His Kingship was not affected.
II. The wise men, Herod the king, and the “King of the Jews”
In Matthew 2 there is a wonderful contrast developed between Herod the king (little k) and Jesus the King (big K). These wise men wanted to know where is the one who “has been born King of the Jews”. Does not Jesus Himself affirm this when he says to Pilate, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born (my emphasis), and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth…” John 18:37
III. Jesus Himself
In Matthew 18:23f when Jesus helps Peter and the disciples better understand why we must forgive as a lifestyle, does He not imply in speaking of a king of a kingdom that He Himself is one and the same?
In Matthew 22:1-14 was not the intended import of this parable the fact that Jesus Himself was a King of a kingdom, who was actively inviting folk to enter His kingdom, and who would deal severely with those who rejected this gracious invitation or who tried to enter His kingdom through some other way than the way He made available?
In Matthew 25: 31 and following certainly there is a final and complete inheritance (vs. 34) of His kingdom that those of us in His kingdom and who have as a lifestyle sought first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33) will receive, but our reception of it is based on how we operated in His kingdom in the now/in our lifetime.
See discussion above re: Jesus’s own words to Pilate in John 18:37
IV. Jesus’s Critics re: What Jesus Claimed of Himself in the Now
In Luke 23:2, please note Jesus’s critics’ accusation, “And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
In John 19:12 we see a similar account, “As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a kingopposes Caesar.”
V. Those who knew and followed Him
Nathanael – “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the Kingof Israel.” John 1:49
The whole crowd of disciples – “…..the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (this quote as referenced in capital letters above is from Psalm 118:26
In Acts 17:5-7 the critics of the early church/apostles accused them based on what they knew they proclaimed about Jesus – “….saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
Paul’s proclamations to Timothy & those who would read his letters
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and
glory forever and ever. Amen.” I Timothy 1:17
“which He will bring about at the proper time – He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” I Timothy 6:15
Clearly Paul proclaimed Christ as King in the now, not merely in the future.
VI. John’s proclamation in The Revelation
Revelation 1:5 “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth….” (this is not speaking of future eschatological events or times, and while he does not use the word “king” here, “ruler” has the same idea).
The Holy Spirit, who inspired “The Revelation of John”, which is ultimately “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1), and who through this coveted book has sought to prepare His church for all that is to come before He returns, wants us to know the Son as the King, so we can trust Him when we see all the upheavals and godlessness and idolatry and rebellion in our human governments and among the other rulers of the nations. Sadly we have given more attention to timelines, than we have to the One who is “the beginning and the end.”
The resurrected martyrs of the Great Tribulation certainly knew Him and sang of Him as such as seen in Rev. 15:3.
The angel reassured the apostle John (and thus all His saints) that despite great attacks and evil schemes from rulers of the earth against the saints (17:6) and even against Jesus Himself (17:14), the Lamb would win “….because He is Lord of lords and King of kings,…”.
Clearly He wants us all to know Him as such since this name and title is on His robe and thigh for all to see, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Rev. 19:16
VII. The Present Reality of His kingdom
Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus preached this simple message wherever He went. The whole basis and motivation to repent or reason to repent is the King and His Kingdom had invaded their time and space and reality, and thus their sins and darkness were exposed, and thus they needed to bow to King and be delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God (see Col. 1:13 below).
Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Luke 17:20, 21 “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Colossians 1:13 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
CONCLUSION: So much more could be said about our glorious King and His kingdom especially from the book of Matthew wherein we see His kingship and Kingdom revealed more than in any other book. But hopefully this short study will make clear that we have the privilege of knowing Him as King and experiencing the joys and blessings of His kingdom in the now, not just in the future, though granted our experience of Him and His kingdom will be far greater once Satan, sin, the flesh and the world are forever done away with. Come Lord Jesus, come!
* Italics of the word “king” or “King” are my emphasis