The Coming King
December 24th, 1967 @ 8:15 AM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
John 18:33, 36-37
12-24-67 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The King and the Kingdom. Once in a while I will preach a sermon that will sort of sum up no small part of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, a presentation of God’s outline of the life now, of the world that is to come and our part in it. And this is just such a sermon. Somebody might ask, "Well, why would you choose a time like this to deliver a sermon like that?" Well, I have reason for it. I think people who love God enough, and love the Lord enough, and love the church enough, and love the Book enough, and love the appearing of Jesus enough to come to the services on a day like this deserve the best sermon that a minister could prepare and deliver. And I pray that the message today will be just such a sermon, as fine in content, in doctrinal thought, in hope and meaning as I could ever prepare or preach.
Now the message is taken from two passages in the Bible that reflect the same thing. In the second chapter of the Book of Matthew:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him.
The other passage is in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of John:
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, "Art Thou a king then?"
Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a king."
[John 18:33, 36-37]
That is the most emphatic way that the Greek language has of saying, "Yes." It is the Greek language’s most emphatic way of answering in affirmation.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, "Art Thou a king then?"
Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world."
Those two passages: the wise men from the East in Herod’s palace, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?"; Pilate therefore said unto Him, "Art Thou a king then?" Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a king."
First: He is the covenant King of Israel. He is the promised King of God’s chosen people. In an unconditional covenant, God promised the land of Palestine to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their seed forever. According to the word and promise of God, Palestine belongs to the seed of Jacob, of Israel forever [Genesis 35:12]. The same Lord God promised to David that he would have a son who would be seated upon his throne forever [2 Samuel 7:13-16; 1 Kings 3:6].
The prophet Isaiah spake of the glorious coming of that greater Son of King David. In the ninth chapter of his prophecy, Isaiah said:
For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, to establish it upon the throne of His father David forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform it.
Seven hundred fifty years after Isaiah uttered that prophecy, the angel Gabriel was sent to a little village in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin Jewess by the name of Mary. And the angel Gabriel announced to her that she should be the mother of this foretold and foreordained Child.
And the angel said unto her, Behold the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:
And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.
Then upon a night of nights, when the heavens were filled with the glory of God, when the air was filled with the rhythm and the music and the harmony of all God’s celestial creation, when every star like a golden lamp seem to be lowered by invisible hands, the Child was born. An angel came to the startled shepherds as they watched over their fields near Bethlehem and announced to them that the Child could be found wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, and for them to go see for themselves that wondrous birth [Luke 2:8-12]. Then all heaven seemed to turn into song. And the angelic choirs who had been rehearsing since the dawn of creation, flung upward to God’s throne, the glorious salutation, "Glory to God in the highest," and then downward to earth, the heavenly benediction, "And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men" [Luke 2:13-14]. The promised Child, the coming King, had been born.
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus then being about thirty years of age, was baptized by John the Baptist and went forth announcing that He was the promised King and announcing that the promised kingdom had come. He carried with Him the credentials of that sublime acclaim [Luke 3:21-38].
First, He was descended from David through His mother, through the line of Nathan. Second, He was descended from David through Joseph, the husband of Mary, through the line of Solomon. And when the wise man came from the East and asked, "Where is He that is born a King?" [Matthew 2:2]. They were rightly asking for the Prince of the house of David.
He carried with Him the credentials of a sinless life. He carried with Him the credentials of marvelous and wondrous words. He carried with Him the credentials of a miracle working and godly power. And then at the exact time, prophesied by Daniel and according to the announcement of the angel Gabriel, in exactly the same manner as was prophesied by Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], He came into Jerusalem on that holy and beautiful Sunday and presented Himself as the King, and with Him, the promised kingdom.
Even the children, as He came into the city of God, sang "Hosanna in the highest" [Matthew 21:15]. And the people replied, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh, the King of Israel" [Matthew 21:9]. And when some of the Sadducees and the Pharisees objected to what the children were crying and what the people were saying, the Lord said, "If these should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out" [Luke 19:40]. This was the great covenant day of all history; the King had come and presented Himself as the Messiah of God.
He is not only the promised King of Israel; He is, second, the rejected King. And when He was brought before the Sanhedrin, and upon oath He was asked by the high priest who presided over the Sanhedrin – the highest court of Israel – when He was asked by the high priest, "I adjure Thee by the living God, tell us whether Thou are the Christ, the Son of God, He answered under oath, "I am," [Matthew 26:63-65; Mark 14:62].
And when the high priest heard that, he rent his clothes and said, "He hath spoken blasphemy. Judge ye for yourselves" [Matthew 26:65-66; Mark 14:63-64].
And they replied, "He is worthy of death. Crucify Him" [Matthew 26:66].
At that time capital punishment had been taken out of the hands of Judah, and it lay in the hands of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. They, therefore, took their King and their Messiah to a heathen ruler and adjudged Him worthy of death and asked that Pilate might put Him to death.
And Pilate replied, "What? Shall I crucify your King?"
And they replied, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
And Pilate remonstrated, "But He is your King!"
And they replied, "We have no king but Caesar."
And Jesus was crucified a king. In the language of religion, in Hebrew, and in the language of poetry, philosophy and culture, in Greek, and in the language of world law, in Latin, He was proclaimed a king. "This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews" [John 19:19]. And He died a king.
When the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the rulers of the temple went to Pontius Pilate and said, "Do not write up there, He is the King. Write that He said that He is the King" [John 19:21]. Pilate replied one of the most famous sentences in Greek literature, "Gegrapha, gegrapha"; "What I have written I have written" [John 19:22]. He died a king.
He is not only the promised King of Israel; He is not only the rejected King of Israel; He is, third, an exiled king. As King Constantine is exiled from Greece today, so Jesus the King is exiled from His kingdom today. He told the story of a nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom and said to his subject, "Occupy till I come" [Luke 19:11-13]. He is an exiled king. He went away. "And a cloud received Him out their sight" [Acts 1:9].
What of the kingdom? What of the promise? What of ten thousand things that God has written here in His Book. How Satan must have exalted, how Satan must have laughed, how the whole kingdom of darkness must have shouted and danced when Jesus was crucified! "Israel has slain her own Son! The chosen people are in unbelief! And every promise of God shall fall to the ground. Every prophecy, God hath spoken by His saints of old have now been cast into the dust of the earth. No thing that God said would come to pass will now ever come to pass, for the Prince, the King, is dead. Sin shall be here forever. Death shall reign forever. Satan shall be king forever!" How Satan must have exalted in the day of the cross when Jesus died.
But no, there was a musterion, a secret, hidden in the heart of God that was never revealed to the prophets; it was never spoken by the men of old; it was not known. There was a musterion, a mystery, a secret, kept in the heart of God until the day that He revealed it to His holy apostles, namely that the kingdom was postponed [Ephesians 3:5]. And there should be a great interlude, a vast intermission between the coming of the King and the coming of the kingdom. And in this great intermission, this vast interlude, this musterion is described in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians, that there should be a gathering of a people over whom the Messiah should reign as head – not King – as head of His church [Ephesians 3:6-21].
There should be created a new body, a new ekklesia, a new congregation, a new assembly, and into that assembly all might freely come. The Jew, he’s welcome. The Greek, he’s welcome. The Scythian, he’s welcome. The provincial, he’s welcome. The barbarian, he’s welcome. The heathen, he’s welcome. The child, he’s welcome. The woman, she’s welcome – in which there should be neither bond nor free, male nor female, Greek nor Jew, but all might be welcome into the household of faith and the family of God [Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11]; the good news of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, that in His cross and in His blood, we all might have forgiveness of sin, that we all might be born again into the family of God, a new creation, the church, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the grand announcement of the evangel today, in this era of grace, in this time of the mercy of God, in this great interlude, in this vast intermission.
But what of the kingdom, will it never come? What of the promises, will they never be kept? Ah, yes, when the disciples came to Jesus as He was taken from them, they said, "But, Lord, what of the kingdom? Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? What of the kingdom?" [Acts 1:6]. And when that dying thief turned to the Lord on the cross, he asked Him, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" [Luke 23:42]. Will there ever be a kingdom?
Christ is the head of the church, not the King of the church. There is no such nomenclature in the Bible. Christ is the King and He has a kingdom! Has God forgotten it? Have the promises failed? Nay. But the kingdom has been postponed until a day and an hour that is known but to God. But there shall come a time, there shall come a day, there shall be a triumph, a mighty, a victorious hour when the King shall come, and the kingdom shall come, and Christ shall be not only head of the church, but when Christ shall be King over all the earth and over all God’s creation.
He is coming with the kingdom under a twofold simile. He is coming as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], and He is coming as lightening across the vivid sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming, first, under the simile of a thief in the night. He is coming for His jewels [Malachi 3:17], to steal His people out of the earth. With unsandaled feet, quietly, stealthily, clandestinely, furtively, secretly, without announcement, coming as a thief, the Lord shall come to take His people out of the earth. And we shall all be raptured. We shall all be taken away; all of us. These who have fallen into the dust of the ground and are buried, and we who are alive at His coming, we shall all be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]. Not the least of God’s saints will He leave in the heart of the earth or in the dust of the ground.
Where that missionary fell on a foreign field, God saw it and marked the place. These who have died in the Lord and we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, we all, alike, shall be changed. We shall be raptured to Jesus. We shall be taken up to our Savior, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed [1 Corinthians 15:52].
As it was in the days of Enoch, suddenly he was translated [Genesis 5:24], as it was in the days of Noah, when God shut the ark and the great judgment fell [Genesis 7:16], as it was in the days of Lot when God snatched him out of the earth and the fire and brimstone burned [Genesis 19:15-16]; so it shall be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man, furtively, secretively, without announcement, "Two shall be sleeping in a bed; one taken, the other left. Two shall be working in the field; one taken and the other left. Two shall be grinding at a mill; one shall be taken and the other left" [Matthew 24:40-41]. He is coming under the simile of a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], to take out of the earth His jewels [Malachi 3:17].
He is coming under the simile, under the livid lightening that stretched the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming openly. He is coming announcedly. The text of Revelation is Revelation 1:7, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the families of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen."
Or as Jude writes in his little book, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints" [Jude 14]. He is coming and with Him the visible kingdom. He is coming in the glory of the Father, God the Son and the Son of God. He is coming in the glory of the angels, their Prince and the leader of the hosts of heaven. He is coming in the glory of the church, the Groom with the bride. He is coming in His own glory as the Son of God, as the Son of Abraham, as the Son of David, as the Son of Man, the virgin-born Man, the Crucified Man, the risen Man, the ascended Man, the Coming King, the Lord God Pantokrator. He is coming to be King of Israel. He is coming to be King of the nations. He is coming to be King of all the kings and the Lord of all the lords. He is coming to be the re-Creator and the restorer of this earth.
Then shall be brought to pass all of the marvelous prophesies in God’s Book, and how glorious they are. "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation" – neither shall there be any Vietnams or any North Koreas or any World War ones or World War twos. "neither shall there be war anymore" [Isaiah 2:4].
For the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge, and the glory, and the wonder, and the mercy, and the salvation, and the reality, and the presence of God, as the waters cover the sea.
[Isaiah 11:6-7, 9]
"Art Thou a king? Yea, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" [John 18:37]; the coming King.
Oh, what a marvelous, incomparable celebration, this time of the year. Had you been the magi from the east, would you have bowed down at that manger? Would you have worshipped at that little place where a tiny baby lay? This Child is the promised King of the world. This little Child is the Prince of the host of heaven. And this precious Baby shall be exalted above all time, through all eternity; this is the Lord and Savior of our souls.
Oh, what a wondrous miracle has God brought before our very eyes. Let us sing of it. Let us preach about it. Let us speak of it. Let us rejoice in it. Let us love God for it. Let us give Him not only silver, and gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, but the love of our lives, the service of our days, the commitment of our every tomorrow.
And while we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody you, to give himself to Jesus, you come and stand by me. A family you, into the fellowship of the church, a couple you, however God shall say the word and shall lead in the way, make it this morning. Make it now. Upon the first note of the first stanza, come. Unless it is an emergency, nobody leave, not now. I will give you opportunity, in plenty of time, to leave. But all of us stand in a moment and sing this invitation, this appeal.
All hail the power of Jesus name!
Let angel’s prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.
[from All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name by James Ellor, 1838]
And while all of us in a moment stand to sing that diadem song, crowning Jesus the Lord of all, to give your heart to Him, to put your life with us in the fellowship of this dear church, while we sing this hymn of adoration, come. Come. And God bless you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.