Jesus: The Forever King
Scripture: Luke 1:26-33
Jesus is our divinely appointed, currently reigning, absolutely authoritative king.
Well, another election cycle has come and gone. We have a few weeks of the new regime under our belts. Is everyone feeling hopeful? Are you? We put into power the people we feel should be there, at least in theory. Right? Right? You’re thinking that’s not how I feel at all. That’s not what I think happened. It’s a weird time, isn’t it? We don’t always get what we want, but we always get a say. Voting is one of those cornerstones of the ideology of our country. The right to say who gets to govern us, or how we’re governed as part of our story, a part of our way our country is built, we get a little piece of the power that can move us in the direction that we think we ought to go. And I think we’d all agree that given the different kinds of ways governments can form themselves in the world, this is probably the best of that group, right? It’s probably the best way to do it.
But it seems like in recent years, more people think that elections are in some sense world changing. Have you noticed that? Seems like there’s a lot of pressure now on these elections. Prior to the election, I heard a commercial where there was an older actor who came on and he said, and I quote, “The world hangs in the balance. I’m going to do two things. I’m going to vote, and I’m going to buy gold”. It seems like a weird combination, actually. The part of that, that really stood out to me though, not the funny part, but the part that really stood out to me, was “the world hangs in the balance”. There’s this growing sense that whichever election is next holds the key to the future. That our life is forever altered in some sense by whomever we put into power. Church, that is just not so. That is just not it at all. I mean, never mind the fact that in just my brief lifetime in the White House, we’ve gone Democrat, Republican, Republican, Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican, and now Democrat. And life has changed almost not at all through all of that. Right? It hasn’t. I mean, different people have been angry about different things at different times. Certainly, that’s true. But on the whole, we’ve been fine. We have enough checks and balances in place to make sure that things are going to be okay.
But far more important than that, and the fact that should cause us to rest at night, and then to wake up with joy the next morning, is that there has only ever been one life altering, world changing politician. And we did not get a single vote. Right? No one did in fact. This politician was foisted upon you. This ruler came through a sudden seizure of power. He overthrew the ruling government, and he took it by force. He was placed into power, and he was given his kingship by God. That’s a phrase that was used to describe the absolute monarchs in England. By the way, Jamie and his family, Jamie Robinson and his family are English. So they’re going to have really cool accents, which is great. Don’t bring up the whole 4th of July thing. I think they’re still sore about it. This is from a speech. This is from a speech given by King James I in 1610, that’ll help you see how the monarchs saw themselves. They had this thing, this ideology they called the Divine Right of Kings. Listen. Listen to King James I speak about this in 1610, “The state of monarchy is the supremist thing upon earth. For kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself, they are called Gods”. Wow. You see why we rebelled against that? The Divine Right of Kings means the King isn’t answerable to anyone except God. Sounds like a terrible, terrible idea, doesn’t it? Can you imagine having a king appointed before he’s born who sits in the seat of God and is himself considered God having absolute authority? And some of you are thinking this is a trap. This is a trap. He’s describing Jesus, and he’s trying to make it sound like it’s a bad thing. Yes, I am. I am describing Jesus. And it’s a very, very good thing. It would be terrible as a form of government if somebody gave themselves this power or some mere man was given this power. Jesus, however, is not a mere man. The politician I’m talking about here is Jesus. Jesus is a king with absolute authority, appointed by God, answerable only to God. And you don’t get a vote at all as to whether or not he is going to reign in this world. Have you ever heard Jesus described as a politician? Neither have I. But think about this, one of the assertions of Scripture that we can find, both throughout the New Testament and in the promises of the Old Testament, is that Jesus the Messiah is a King. Savior describes what He’s done for us. King tells us He is completely in charge of his Kingdom, which includes all of his people. Jesus is our divinely appointed, currently reigning, absolutely authoritative King.
We’re going to go look this morning at the announcement of Jesus’s reign. Last week we looked at John’s birth announcement, and now we’re going to look at Jesus’s birth announcement. We’re going to switch over to Jesus. Luke is going to show us how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of a coming King. And so, I’m going to take us through that. But I also want to talk about what it means on a daily basis for those of us who love Jesus, that Jesus is King reigning over us. Let’s look first at Luke Chapter 1, verse 26. “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.” Now, let me start by pointing out something that’s actually very small, and it’s actually not one of the points of the passage, but as something I really love about this gospel. Do you see there, in the phrasing of verse 26, where it says a city in Galilee named Nazareth? Luke could have just said Gabriel was sent to Nazareth. The way he phrases this reinforces his reason for writing this entire gospel, which he told us at the beginning of the book. He’s explaining Jesus’s story to someone who doesn’t know the details, that’s not aware of the details. If he’d had just said Nazareth, Theophilus and all of these Roman Gentile Christians that he’s writing to, probably wouldn’t have known what he was talking about. Nazareth was a very, very small town, very, very unimportant. It would be sort of like this. If you lived in Apple Valley and you were trying to describe to somebody from out of state where it is that you live, you would probably say the Twin Cities or Minneapolis, right? You wouldn’t say Apple Valley because they wouldn’t know where that’s located. Now, I find this to be a small point, but it’s an encouraging point for those of you who may feel that you’re not very confident when it comes to reading the Bible. You look at the scriptures and you think, I just don’t know how to understand all this. I don’t know enough of the history. I can’t explain what I’m seeing here. I want you to know that the Bible was written with new people in mind. It was written for people who need to learn about these things. So, it’s okay if you don’t yet feel like you have a great grasp of the Bible. The Bible was written so that you will develop an excellent understanding of God’s message to you, and to all of us.
Now, who are these people that Gabriel visits? Well, he goes to a young virgin woman named Mary, who is betrothed to a man named Joseph, who is from the House of David. And it’s complicated, I know, but all of the details matter. All the details matter here. They matter for Jesus’s role as the king, which we’re going to look at today. They also matter for his role as the Son of God, which we’re going to look at next week. So, let’s break down some of these details here. First of all, he goes to a woman named Mary who is a virgin. That’s pretty self-explanatory there. She’s not yet had sexual intercourse with anyone. She has not yet been in that intimate way. That will be theologically very important next week. But right now, it’s important for understanding where she’s at in her relationship with this guy named Joseph. It says that she’s betrothed to Joseph. Do not immediately change out the word in your mind betrothed, but try to change out that word with the word engaged, because if you do that, it won’t make any sense to you. In our culture, engagement is a big deal, but it’s really just a heightened form of dating. That’s what engagement is. It’s a heightened form of dating. All the ladies are like, “How dare you, Kyle?”. But it is. I’m not saying engagement is a bad thing, right? You buy a ring, you make promises. There’re pictures, there’s Instagram. I understand it’s very important. It’s very it’s nice. It’s a nice thing. But there’s nothing legal about it. You can break an engagement via text if you want to. You shouldn’t, but you could. So, what I’m saying, there’s nothing legal. Nothing legal has taken place when you are engaged to someone. But betrothal means that you are already legally married to this person. Joseph and Mary are already legally bound together. They just have not yet come together in a sexual union. I know. That’s really weird, right? There’s a delay between the betrothal and the marriage. People get married today, they’re thinking, let’s get out of here. Right? But there was a delay. There was a time between when you would be legally bound to somebody, and when you would come together with them in a full relationship. Think of betrothal as the beginning of a longer marital process where the legal bond between a man and his wife begins about a year before they come together and begin their full marriage relationship. The woman would remain in her father’s house but would legally be bound to her husband. So much so actually, that breaking that bond would actually require another legal thing to take place. There would have to be a legal action of divorce. And that’s where we are in this relationship.
Gabriel visited Mary and she’s betrothed to Joseph, but she’s not yet living with Joseph. Now, why is that important? Why is the timing on this important? Well, it says Joseph is of the House of David, as you can see there. And this is going to be repeated for emphasis in the next chapter. It’s very important that he is. And here’s why. If you are a Jewish person living in Judea or Samaria or Galilee at that time, you are waiting for the re-establishment of the line of the Kings of David. That’s something you want very much. In 2 Samuel 7, which we heard read earlier, God makes a promise to David that His kingdom will never end. That there will always be one of his descendants sitting on the throne, reigning over God’s people. There will always be a King from David’s line who is going to shepherd God’s people to the Lord. That was the role of the King. The role of the King was to really, really love the Lord and want God’s will done among God’s people. And so, bring God’s people to a knowledge of the Lord their God, their true King. So, he was sort of an under king, right? And he was to bring them along. That’s why it’s so important that David be this man after God’s heart. His job was to gather God’s people around God’s Word and lead them to walk in His statutes and in His commandments. The King is like the Executive Branch of God’s will. So, if you think of the Lord as like the Judicial and the Legislative Branches, then the King would be like the Executive Branch. That’s not a perfect analogy, but it gets at it a little bit. That’s why it is so important for David to walk in the Holy Spirit.
God’s promise to David is that He would establish David’s line of kings forever. So not just for the time he was in power, or even for the duration of time that Israel was in existence. This King and this Kingdom would go forever. So, if you’re an Israelite, and you are living in Roman occupied Israel in the promised land, in a backwater town like Nazareth, or maybe you live in a very important city like Jerusalem, or maybe you live in a very small city like Bethlehem, what you’re hoping for is for a Messiah. Messiah means Anointed One. You’re waiting for this Anointed One to rise up. For this Anointed King who God will raise up. And you’re thinking he’s going to overthrow the Roman government, and he’s going to reestablish a Kingdom of God’s people that’s going to take back the Promised Land. And so, when Luke makes the point that Joseph is of the House of David, you’re thinking, tell me more. Tell me more about this. I want to learn; this is good news. Well, here’s what’s really important. Under these conditions, under this betrothal, any children Mary has would legally also be of the line of David. Whether it’s by birth or by adoption, Joseph’s children would be part of the line of the House of David. Now, that doesn’t mean that they would automatically become King. There were lots of descendants of David at that time who could have qualified. In fact, Joseph himself would have fit the bill as somebody who could have been King.
Just because you’re legally part of David’s line doesn’t make you King, but it does make you eligible. Pick this up in verse 28. “And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings. O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.'” I think Gabriel needs to work on his introductions. He’s clearly doing something that is putting people on edge when he talks to them. I mean, every time he shows up with good news, he’s got to calm the other person down. And the first thing he says, right? He’s got to figure out it’s him. I would think, is it the wings? What is it? I mean, what is it? It’s throwing people off. He says to Mary that she is favored because the Lord is with her, and she has found favor with God. And do you know what’s never explained anywhere in all of the Bible? Why Mary found favor with God. And do you know why that is? It’s because God doesn’t need a reason. God doesn’t need a reason. God’s favor isn’t based on earning it in some way. Mary wasn’t more holy or top of her class or first among equals, anything like that. She was just the person that God had crafted over her lifetime within His sovereign plan to put her in exactly the right position to be able to perform exactly what he was going to do on the Earth. She will conceive in her womb, bear a son, and call his name Jesus. We’re going to spend more time next week on the miracle of a young virgin woman giving birth because it shows Jesus’s deity. And it’s a very important part of what makes him capable of saving sinners like you and me. But notice that, like with John the Baptist in the last passage, the Lord once again names Jesus. And he’s given a name that means, The Lord Saves. In Hebrew,”yesah” means salvation, or to save. “Ah” means God. It’s a reference to Yahweh, the God of Israel. “Yesah-ah”, “Yeshua”, means to save. In Hebrew and Aramaic, the name is Joshua. But the Greek New Testament translation of the name Joshua is Jesus, Salvation. Mary’s son will be named the Lord’s Salvation.
Let’s look at who Jesus will be. “He will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” First of all, “he will be great”, which is referring to his status. Last week we heard Gabriel say that John would be great before the Lord, meaning that John’s greatness will derive from the fact that he stands in the presence of the Lord. Jesus, by contrast, will simply be great on His own. There’s no qualifier here. He won’t be before God or derive his greatness from God. He’ll be higher than John, something that John will recognize later in John’s ministry. Jesus will also be called “Son of the Most High”. This is parallel with “Son of God”, which we find down in verse 35, and we’re going to look at that closely next week. What I want to focus on this morning is what the Lord is going to do with Jesus. He’s going to give Him the throne of his father David. So, before we learned that He was eligible for the throne through Joseph, but now we learn that God is actually going to give Him that throne. That He will take that throne. There have been lots of descendants of David. It’s been about 600 years since Zedekiah was on the throne as the last Judean king before the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. There were plenty of men who could have been the next guy up if God had chosen to do that. But He wasn’t just looking for any old descendent to resume the kingdom. Not just anyone would do. He was waiting for the perfect moment, in His sovereign wisdom, to send His salvation. To send Jesus. And Jesus will reign over the House of Jacob. Notice how Gabriel goes back past David, all the way to Jacob. Showing that Jesus will be the one who reigns over the entire nation, over all of God’s people. The nation that God set aside, not only the nation of Israel, but the nation that would bless all the other nations of the Earth. He’s not just a regional king of a certain location called Israel. He’s the King of the nation that was promised to bless everyone, and all the rest of the earth. I want you to notice the two slightly different things Gabriel says about the eternal reign. The eternity of this reign. First, he says that he will reign forever. And then he says of his Kingdom, there will be no end. And those two sound alike, sounds like maybe saying the same thing twice, but they’re actually complementary, those two statements. The first focuses on Jesus. He will reign. Jesus will always reign. There’s no term limit, followed by a peaceful passing of power to the next king. When the Lord made his promise to David, he said to him, that David would die, and then there would be one of his sons who would take the throne, and on it would go. And here Jesus is just going to reign forever. He, by himself, will reign forever. Isaiah 9:7 says “of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end to it”. Gabriel is saying that the day has come for the King who is going to reign forever over God’s people. It’s arrived. And then he says that not only will Jesus’s reign not end, but Jesus’s kingdom will not end. Now that’s significant, because for 600 years there’s been no king, but there’s also been no nation of Israel per se, at least not one that’s not occupied by foreign rules of Babylon and Medo-Persia and Greece and Rome. There’s always been someone who’s conquered the nation. Israel has been a complicated nation for a while at this point. There’s been lots of complications in how it runs. So, the idea that anyone would assume the throne of Israel and then stay there permanently, while the nation goes on and on forever without failing, well, that’s just not something anybody living at that time had ever experienced or ever seen before. This is something completely new to them. This would be an amazing promise. And yet, here’s the promise. Jesus’s reign won’t end, and his kingdom is going to go on eternally. What this kingdom is exactly, and how Jesus will reign over it, is the contents of the rest of this book. The rest of the Book of Luke is telling us about this King and about this Kingdom and how it works and how it runs. We’re going to learn all about this. When Jesus speaks, he’s going to tell us what it means for him to reign in our lives, and He’s going to explain the ethics of living in this peaceful Kingdom that will never end.
Let me draw out our attention to just a few things that we can know for sure this morning, as we look at this promise. As I said at the beginning, Jesus is our divinely appointed, currently reigning, absolutely authoritative King. That one truth that is true for everyone is going to sound like two different things. It’s one truth. It’s true for everybody. It’s going to sound like two different things, depending on where your heart is. Depending on who you are, you’re going to hear that truth in one of two ways. It sounds one way to people whose hearts are turned from the Lord. Remember how last week we talked about having a heart that’s turned away from the Lord? If you don’t love the Lord, if you don’t care about your Creator, if you’re not looking for truth, if you sort of bent in on yourself, then this isn’t going to be great news for you. If you’re deeply motivated by a vision of the world where you are the center and that all of your ideas are right, and you don’t need to be saved from anything, this news of a King does not come as good news to you. Because it’s something that’s going to try to usurp your reign. And take your kingdom away. That’s why I’ve never really understood why it is that non-Christians are so into Christmas. Is it the presents? Is it the presents? We’ve made it into a commercial holiday. I guess that’s why Christmas is actually the arrival of a divinely appointed King whose reign and whose Kingdom haven’t ended even here in 2022. And that reign is a direct challenge to those who rebel against Jesus. I would caution you against making such a big deal out of Christmas if you don’t truly understand that what you’re celebrating is the end of your reign and the beginning of His. That’s Christmas. Let me tell you once again. That’s good news. You might not hear it right now as good news. That’s incredibly good news. Do you know why? Your kingdom won’t last. It won’t last. You won’t make it. It’s not going to work for you. You think you can ignore God and build something that’ll last? Something that will bring peace? I would ask you, look around, how are humans doing at that? Are we creating peace? Is that what you see? Do you see us doing a really good job of reining? We’re selfish and greedy, and we’re filled with bitterness, for not getting our way. That’s what we get. A big scale like Russia, Ukraine, and on a small scale, like families that don’t get along. You get it everywhere. We’re always trying to build these kingdoms.
What we need is exactly what Jesus was given, a kingdom that would last forever, that is built on the word of our Creator, that is accessible only through the salvation that Jesus alone provides. And that’s the second way this truth is heard. For those of you who have tasted the salvation of Jesus, who your heart is turned toward Christ, this promise of a King and a Kingdom that will last forever, is sweet relief. It’s relief. Oh. I know that what happens in the White House, and what happens in Washington and what happens in Saint Paul. I know that those things have consequences. I understand the decisions made in those places; they matter. We should work for the common good. We should try to bring biblical love and justice that honors the Lord to as many of the dark places in the world as we can. We live in this country. So, we need to care about the welfare of this place. That is a biblical calling. That is something we should be doing. But the sweet relief is for those of you who know that this country is our temporary home. We’re just here for a time. This is not our eternal kingdom. We live right now as sojourners in the United States. But we who know Jesus also live simultaneously, even while we live here, we also live simultaneously in a permanent kingdom under the reign of Jesus. Someday there will not be elections. Hallelujah. Right? Oh, that would be great not to get heartburn every two years. That’d be fantastic. There will not be man-made laws and Supreme Court rulings that turn the tide of behavior this way and that. Someday the US Constitution will simply be an old piece of paper with ideas that more or less guided people the best it could while it lasted. But Jesus is not like our politicians, and His Kingdom isn’t like our governments. His reign was assigned by one vote. How’s that for the Electoral College? One vote. He was put in place by our Creator. He was put in place by our Heavenly Father. Jesus’s Kingdom is permanent, and His peace is forever. And you can have a place in this kingdom, under this peace, if you will, exit out of your kingdom and enter into His. Would you pray with me?