On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
Have you ever read The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, or more likely seen any one of the film trilogy? If so, then you are likely to remember one of the main protagonists — Aragorn. Aragorn was a Ranger of the North, introduced in part 1, Fellowship of the Ring, under the name of Strider, and later revealed to be the sole heir of Isildur, King of Gondor.
Christianity is certainly a central theme in Tolkien’s masterpiece, although a hidden and even highly debated one, and it includes numerous themes from Christian theology. The battle of good versus evil, the triumph of humility over pride, the sacrifice of one for all are among many of these underlying themes.
The works also include numerous archetypes for prominent Christian figures. Aragorn is certainly among those most prominent and has often been compared to the figure of Christ as King.
Aragorn is in the line of Isildur, and as such is the “anointed one” — heir to the throne. The once and future king of all Middle Earth. Yet there is much work to be done before Aragorn can be crowned and assume the throne as king.
Even so, as the battles raged, Aragorn is acknowledged by his followers as the king, even though his “reign” has not truly begun.
It is already…but not yet.
The King of the Jews
In the Old Testament books of Samuel, Israel rejected God as their King and demanded Samuel give them an earthly king, as other nations had. Thus, over the centuries that followed, Israel was given a line of temporary human kings to rule over them.
Some served faithfully and were righteous, others were evil, selfish, and spiritually bankrupt. The people of Israel followed accordingly.
Yet through it all, God was fulfilling his plan to introduce a new covenant of love and forgiveness, which was to be extended to the entire world, not just the Jews. God had promised Israel — the world — a new king:
But you, Bethlehem…out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2).
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).
At the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, the Jews had been through centuries of enslavement and subjugation, leading up to and including the Roman occupation.
Thus, unfortunately, as the Jews demanded an earthly king during the time of Samuel, so they expected an earthly king to fulfill the promise of God that they would receive a king who would free them from their captivity.
A conquering king who would come and lead with ferocity. One to lead them out of captivity! The last thing they expected, or accepted, was the humble son of a lowly carpenter from Nazareth.
“Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” asked one in John 1:46. The Jews could not even imagine that God’s kingdom would be a spiritual, heavenly realm.
The Messiah, shortly after his birth, was seen immediately as a threat when Magi from the east came to Jerusalem to honor Jesus. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:2-3).
Shortly, after being duped by the Magi, Herod ordered all children two and younger to be killed in order to dispel any threat to his earthly reign.
Later in Jesus’ life and ministry, the Pharisees and religious leaders were so entrenched in their wealth, they too rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, and as the King of the Jews. They did not accept Jesus as their “cornerstone” (Psalms 118:22).
Jesus replied further to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
King of an Unseen Spiritual Realm
Jesus was thus rejected his own people as their earthly king. Indeed, he was the one who fulfilled the prophecy as king of the Jews, but an earthly kingdom was never the purpose of his birth. Jesus himself taught us.
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14).
The kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of God. The Father’s kingdom.
In Luke 17, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that neither God nor God’s kingdom was coming in the manner they were expecting. God’s Messiah would not be the revolutionary leader who defeated the Romans, as they expected, brought into the world in spectacle and splendor.
Jesus was telling them that indeed He was the kingdom. He was the Messiah, the King that they expected — right among them. Yet they missed it. In John 8:28, Jesus made this clear. “…When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He….”
Perhaps their expectations wouldn’t allow them to see it. To feel it. Perhaps human pride and desire to retain the things of the world they already had. But they would know it soon enough. Not that day, but another day — they would know.
As a matter of fact, all will know who Jesus is, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
Jesus was and is the King of the Father’s kingdom. An unseen kingdom not of this world.
King of Kings Already... But Not Yet
Three times in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as “King of kings and Lord of lords. Paul uses the phrase in his first letter to Timothy, “…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time — he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light…” (1 Timothy 6:15-16, ESV).
In Revelation 17:14, we read this, “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Then again in Revelation 19:16, “…and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
In Revelation 1:5 we are told of the position and authority of Jesus, “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” And Jesus' own words taught, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
Clearly, the use of King of kings and Lord of lords refers to the supreme power, rule, and authority of Jesus. No one compares with his strength and authority — now or forevermore. His rule is established now. Indeed, Jesus was, is, and will be the King of kings.
And we will be with him. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:6).
And yet, work remains to be done. Thanks to his sacrifice, we now possess every spiritual blessing in Christ — but we do not yet experience the fullness of those blessings.
Indeed, we are redeemed and saved, adopted, and sanctified. We possess these blessings, yet we still battle our sinful nature. The experience of these blessings is not yet fully ours.
In his first coming, Jesus launched the last days — and in his return, he will complete the work.
The blessings belong to us already, but we cannot yet fully live them until the return of our King of kings.
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Greg Grandchamp is the author of "In Pursuit of Truth, A Journey Begins" — an easy-to-read search that answers to most common questions about Jesus Christ. Was he real? Who did he claim to be? What did he teach? Greg is an everyday guy on the same journey as everyone else — in pursuit of truth. You can reach Greg by email [email protected] and on Facebook.
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