We might think that, because we live in a land where there is a royal family, we already know what it is to relate to a king. Yet, the truth is that kingship in the Bible is a very different thing from kingship in the modern west. When we talk about Jesus as ascending the heavenly throne, we are describing a position of power, authority, and responsibility that is without comparison to any contemporary political or royal office. Jesus is not just a king. He is the king of kings and lord of lords. He is the God-man who does not just rule over a nation – or even an empire – but rather over the whole of creation, visible and invisible.
Once we realise the preeminent reign of Jesus, we must begin to rethink what it means to live before King Jesus as his subject. After all, kingship is not a mere concept that is only of interest in a theological classroom. Kingship ought to shape the lived experience of Christians day-in, day-out. To have faith in Jesus is, to a large extent, to trust in his rule. There is no such thing as a ‘private’ Christian. We either honour our king in public by living in allegiance to his authority, or we dishonour his name by embodying a counterfeit existence. There is no middle ground.
In case some of this sounds detached from normal life, let’s move from theory to practice. Here are five concrete ways that we can honour Jesus as king in our daily lives.
1 – Acknowledge the ‘Weight’ of Jesus’ Majesty
We have all experienced the shift of attention that happens when someone famous or important steps into a room. The centre of gravity shifts due to the social weight of such a person.
Something similar ought to happen each day as we acknowledge the enthroned status of Jesus. Politicians, supervisors, and celebrities ought to lose some of the felt-power that we attach to them as we remind ourselves of the incomparable majesty of the Son of God. To know Jesus is to have a new star shift the orbit of our lives. Henceforth, whatever we do, we do ultimately for one reason: to honour His name.
2 – Submit to His Authority
It’s hard to imagine telling an emperor, ‘No!’, especially if all of his commands are good and life-giving. And, yet, this is what we often do before King Jesus. Whereas the angels instantly heed to slightest nod of Christ, human beings somehow feel at liberty to debate and disregard the clearest of laws of Jesus. We ought to pause and reconsider just how insolent such behaviour is. Jesus’ commands are not good advice; they are divine commands. We need to treat them as such.
3 – Be Ashamed of Being Ashamed of Jesus in Public
No one is ashamed of being on the side of a conquering king when he walks triumphantly through a defeated city. As disciples of Jesus, we need to realise that our king has already had his decisive victory over evil. Paul says in Colossians, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (2:15).
Knowing this, we ought to be ashamed of any shame we feel for being identified with Jesus. People may scorn the faith that we have in the gospel; however, we need to frame such temporary slights on a wide canvas. Jesus has promised that he will come again in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26). Will we be ashamed of standing with Christ when we see him in all of his heavenly majesty? Not a chance. If we will rejoice in his glory on that day, we need to boast in the same glory throughout our lives – even in the moments when faith results in ridicule and opposition.
4 – Make Yourself Available to Jesus as His Servant
To have a king is to be a subject. This simple truth ought to radically change how we approach each day. There is something egregiously arrogant about beginning a day with the question, “What do I want to do?” Anyone who acknowledges his first allegiance to the Son of God must begin the day with an altogether different question: “How can I serve you today?”
5 – Live with the Confidence of a Sister or Brother of the King
Jesus is the unique king who gave himself in sacrificial love for his people. Through his invitation, we have not just become citizens of his kingdom; we have become siblings in his family. This knowledge can give us great confidence as we approach the heavenly king. One of the great privileges of being an adopted sibling of Jesus is that the Throne of Glory is for us a Throne of Grace. What a joy to know that we do not need to hide our weakness from our king. His power is not against us, but for us. He is the unique sovereign lord who looks to the humble and says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”
By Joe Barnard