“…and Jesse the father of David, the king.” – Matthew 1.6, from the geneology of Jesus
Whenever a conversation about Jesus turns to the idea of kingdom there are sticking points. A kingdom. It sounds antiquated. It sounds unhip and irrelevant. We are after all a nation of individuals ruled by an elected official, one able to be the head for only eight years at best, an official who must fight for his seat every four years and may even be dethroned if we so choose, by the conviction of the people. We are not easily ruled. No one loves being told what to do. We rage against imposition, honk our horns at intersections, we must be contractually bound in order to do something not directly in our interests. But maybe we resist the tyranny of God most of all.
We have a collection of reinterpretations about what it means for God to have power. We like to qualify – he has power, but not the unpleasant sort. He has power to do those things that make sense to me and the power to bring my conflicts to a preferable resolution. He has the power to make me safe and comfortable. He has the power to provide real money and friends and a spouse and proper children. These are all the sorts of things we would dream for our kings. We would pile them up, our wish lists, right next to the Manger. We would be content with that sort of ruler – who lives to rule us maybe but really lives to rule a Vichy.
And yet: King of Kings, Lord of Lords(Rev 19.16).
He is not only the King, he is King over other kings. The bible says that the King of Kings LAUGHS at the machinations of other rulers(Ps.2:4), he laughs at their presumptive chatter, and their small power. His kingship is full of power. Every knee will bow the Scriptures tell us. Jesus is Lord. The Cross is a coronation, the resurrection a celebration of his regency. And so we have to say this about God’s forever kingdom: its power has no end.
This Kingdom will not stop at the power of hell just as it will not halt at the proclamations of other rulers or heads of state. The power of this Kingdom does not respect the typical barriers. It doesn’t even end at the point of human volition – working in our hearts despite our best efforts, convicting us of sin, crushing our affection for other gods, awakening us to new life in Christ. And this is of course why the idea of Christianity as mere philosophy is laughable. The aroma of life for believers and the aroma of death to unbelievers(2 Cor 2.15-16), this Kingdom belongs as much to the Coliseum as it does the Academy. It cannot be shaken(Heb 12.28-29).
Jesus brings a kingdom with him at Advent; a kingdom with power over hell, power over sin and death. Power over the grave. And maybe most importantly the power – good Lord – the power to bring peace. Peace like the greatest healing in your most broken places, peace like the end of shame and the end of sin. Peace like a warm home with many rooms(Jn 14.2). Peace like a king that cultivates his own fields(Eccl 5.9). Peace that only a King of Kings has the clout to bring. May he reign in your heart and in mine.