“Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)
From the ancient context of Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah, the Bible’s idea of kingship is nothing to do with celebrity and self-importance, but do with the joining together of privilege with responsibility.
And the royalty of Jesus must be understood in the same way. The King stoops to wash feet.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:12-15)
I recall that scene in C.S.Lewis’s Prince Caspian: “Welcome, Prince,’ said Aslan. ‘Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?’ I – I don’t think I do, Sir,’ said Caspian. ‘I am only a child.’ Good,’ said Aslan. ‘If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.”
The child of Isaiah’s prophecy is described as a prince, with the mantle of authority upon him: “The government will be upon His shoulder ” and his name will be called ‘Prince of Peace’. “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom” because He will “establish it with judgment and justice.”
How many rulers establish their kingdom with peace, judgment and justice?
Jesus may have accepted the crowd’s plaudits in John 12:15: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” And He did answer Pilate: “You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world….” (John 18:37)
There was, however, a little more to say about what royalty was. “My Kingdom is not of this world.” And Jesus challenged how the disciples perceived authority and greatness in the most memorable of terms:
“A dispute also arose among the disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest. So Jesus declared, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them,and those in authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you shall not be like them. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves.… “ (Luke 22:24-26)
Here is kingship – but not worldly kingship. It’s royalty that serves.
The really astonishing thing here is not only that Jesus accepted both privilege and responsibility, but that He passed it on to us. Peter announced both privilege and responsibility:
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
And Matthew finished his Gospel on the same note of derivative authority: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
I’ve been reading a book called “The Supernatural Ways of Royalty: Discovering Your Rights and Privileges of Being a Son or Daughter of God” by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson. Here’s a clip:
“Princes and princesses are commissioned to see the people they lead reach their full potential in God. That means that the greatest compliment we can ever have is when the people we are leading become greater than us. If we believe that we are leading because we are the most qualified, then we will subconsciously work to undermine other people’s advancements.”
So, first, to be called into the “royalty” of Jesus means to be called into his sphere of service, to take up the bucket and towel, and not to “lord it” over other people.
But there’s more. It’s worth looking at the book just to do the “Prince and Pauper” test at the end.
It reminded me that, second, to be called into the royalty of Jesus is to think royally!
We must learn to embrace our identities as sons and daughters of God; to realize that we are heirs to Jesus’ reward and have been given authority to issue decrees in the Kingdom and to do God’s business on the earth like Jesus did. This is reminder is especially important for those of us who grew up in religious communities where we were trained to think of ourselves more like God’s slaves than God’s sons.
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” (Romans 8:15-16)
We are heirs of God’s glory! Third, to be called into Christ’s royalty is to inherit.
God’s kingdom is not a meritocracy. None of us get to heaven by our merit. Neither do we receive victory, blessings, love or sonship by merit. We would all fall short of deserving anything. Instead, we are invited to freely receive the fruit of Christ’s merit. Because Christ is our brother, Romans 8 tells us we get to receive everything He has, like heirs and heiresses; like royalty.
How is that fair? It’s not fair, it’s grace! God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
God’s definition of fair sometimes differs from ours. (Look at that crazy parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 for an example of that!)
God desires that we receive with gratitude and live out our privilege with joy and humility. There’s nothing here of self importance, of striving for approval – just the pleasure of knowing that our Father gives us all we need.
We work and do our best, sure, but our main task is to make good choices as they come to us, and to follow the path laid before us with peace and not anxiety.
Walk today in the encouragement of Psalm 1. Blessed is the one who chooses God:
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”