Necessity of Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion
The question of Paul, Is Christ divided? is one to which professing Christians have not given sufficient heed, and the evil consequences are abundantly apparent.
It was deemed essential to the salvation of men that their Redeemer should possess the powers at once of a prophet, a priest, and a king. These offices, while essentially distinct, are necessarily and inseparably connected with one another. Such a union has been by some utterly denied; and its denial has laid foundation for some capital errors which have exerted a pernicious influence on the Christian church. By others it has been criminally overlooked; and the neglect with which it has been treated has occasioned vague and conflicting conceptions regarding the great work of man’s deliverance from sin and wrath by the mediation of the Son of God.
If, as we presume will be readily admitted, the whole of Christ’s offices are necessary to the salvation of fallen man, it follows that they are all essential to the character of the Savior, and that, of course, we cannot suppose him to have existed for a moment without any one of them as this would suppose him to have been, for the time at least, no Savior. This fearful result might itself be deemed sufficient to put Christians on their guard against fancying either that Christ was invested with his different offices at different times, or that he acts at one time according to one and at another time according to another. From the very first he must have possessed the powers of all his offices; and in every part of his work all must have come into operation. For example, when he taught his disciples, he acted not only as a prophet, but also as a priest and a king; inasmuch as the doctrine which he taught brought fully to view his sacerdotal character, and the authority with which his instructions were enforced distinctly recognized his regal power. Again, when as a priest he offered himself a spotless sacrifice to God, he gave to the world as a prophet a new revelation of the character of God, and of the principles of the divine moral government; at the same time that as a king he triumphed gloriously over his enemies. In like manner, his royal achievements not only manifest his majesty and his power, but serve to publish the clemency of his grace, and to recognize the merit of his atoning sacrifice as the ground on which they proceed.
This doctrine of inseparable union does not by any means confound the distinction subsisting between the various offices of our Mediator, any more than the union of persons in the Godhead amounts to a denial of the essential distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; or than the union of natures in the person of the Son of God is at variance with the ascription by the inspired writers of some things to the one nature, and of other things to the other nature. Without confounding the distinction between them, we may, therefore, safely maintain the inseparable union of Christ’s mediatonal offices—a union which obtained in every pain he endured, and in every act he performed or will ever perform in behalf of the elect; and which it becomes the believer joyfully and gratefully to recognize and acknowledge, as the absence of any one of them would disqualify him for performing the work of our redemption.
In proceeding to consider the kingly office of Christ, it is to be borne in mind that it stands in inseparable connection with his sacerdotal office. He sits a Priest upon his throne. Nor will any enlightened subject of Zion’s King feel that there is any incongruity, in his case at least, between the miter and the crown, the altar and the throne, the censer and the scepter, the smoking incense and the shout of victory. “We have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens” (Heb. 4:14). “This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 10:1213).
The kingly office of Christ forms an interesting part of the Christian system, and as such both merits and requires extensive illustration. We may judge of its importance from the frequency with which Christ is spoken of in the sacred writings under the character of a King. Is the advent of Messiah announced to the ancient church? It is in these words: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy KING cometh unto thee” (Zech. 9:9). Are the members of the church invited to behold his excellencies? Such is the character in which he is discovered: “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold KING Solomon, with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart” (Song of Sol. 3:11). Is a gracious discovery of the Savior promised? It is thus conveyed: “Thine eyes shall see the KING in his beauty” (Isa. 33:17). Are the saints required to exult in the Redeemer? It is in these terms: “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their KING” (Ps. 149:2). Does the believer record the effect produced by some singular manifestation of the divine presence to his soul? This is his language: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the KING, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Or is the church required to celebrate the ascension of her Lord? In strains borrowed from the triumphant entrance of an earthly monarch into the capital of his kingdom, she exclaims: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the KING of glory shall come in” (Ps. 24:7).
Such being the frequent allusion made in the Scriptures to this particular feature of the Savior’s character, an examination into the mediatorial government of Christ presents peculiar attractions to every true disciple of Jesus; and as the theme is ample, as well as inviting, it requires the patient, candid, and believing attention of all who would be wise unto salvation.
The sovereign authority of Christ may be viewed either as necessary, or as official. Viewing him as God, it is necessary, inherent, and underived: viewing him as Mediator, it is official and delegated. It is the latter of these we are now to contemplate. The subject of our present inquiry is, the MEDIATORJAL DOMINION of the Son; not that which essentially belongs to him as God, but that with which, by the authoritative act of the Father, he has been officially invested as the Messiah. It is that government, in short, which was laid upon his shoulders—that power which was given unto him in heaven and in earth.
In proceeding to the consideration of this interesting and momentous subject, the first thing which claims attention is the NECESSITY of Christ’s kingly office. This takes precedence of all other points, inasmuch as its establishment will tend to prepare for the more careful investigation of the other parts of the subject, by impressing the mind with a higher sense of its importance. “For he MUST reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25).
- The kingly office of Christ is necessary to thefulfillment of God’s gracious purposesrespecting the elect. The right of dominion over all things necessarily belongs to him as God. Had his kingdom embraced nothing but the material and the moral worlds, generally considered, there should have been no room, because no need, for the mediatorial rule, all the purposes of his government being perfectly subserved by his essential control as God. But there is something else than the material and moral world, generally considered, under the government of the Almighty. Man, having broken the original moral constitution under which he was placed, and become liable in consequence to judicial displeasure and punishment, and God having determined to rescue a number of the human family from the fearful consequences of such a state, that this might be done honorably and successfully, it became necessary that the government of these, and of others on their account, should be committed to him who was chosen to be their Savior. God, from the very perfection of his nature, could not in his absolute character deal with rebel sinners in any way with a view to their salvation. In this character he must seek their punishment for he is just: and not only could he not procure or offer pardon and deliverance from the curse of the broken covenant, but he could not even bestow it, nor could he actually deliver them, or conduct them to any of the blessings of salvation. Hence the necessity of another being appointed, not only to purchase and to offer redemption through his blood, but to apply it, to give it effect, to bestow the benefits of grace on the destined subjects of salvation.
- Indeed, tocomplete the mediatory character itself,such an office was requisite. Jesus, the chosen of God, is of course a perfect Savior. But this he could not be without being invested with regal dignity and power. The work given him to do, supposes him to be so invested. It is SALVATION; and what is that? It is not merely, as we are apt to suppose, paying a ransom by which the claims of the divine moral government shall be satisfied; it is not merely making announcement that such satisfaction has been given and accepted, and offering redemption to the guilty on this ground. These are certainly important and essential parts of salvation; nor would we be understood as wishing to disparage either the one or the other. No; we can never enough appreciate or extol them. Still they do not, in themselves, constitute salvation; if there were nothing more, not a single sinner could ever be saved. The ransom must be applied as well as paid; the offer must be not only made, but accepted; and to secure this the Mediator must be invested with regal power.
Each office of Christ has its own peculiar province in which it is essential and indispensable. Generally speaking, it may be said that his province as a priest is to purchase; as a prophet, to publish; as a king, to apply. In the first, he procures; in the second, he makes known; in the third, he gives effect. They are all alike essential: not one of them can be dispensed with. The regal office can as easily be supposed to supersede the sacerdotal or the prophetical, as the sacerdotal or the prophetical can be supposed to supersede the regal. It were absurd to talk of applying what had not been procured; but not less so to talk of procuring what could not be applied.
Let us, for the sake of illustrating and confirming the point under consideration, try what consequences would follow from supposing government or dominion to be expunged from the mediatorial functions of Christ. As priest, he makes atonement for the sins of the chosen of God, procures pardon, purchases deliverance from condemnation, pays the ransom due for their sins, and completely removes all legal obstructions to their salvation. As priest, also, he represents their case to the Father, pleads the merits of his sacrifice, and expresses his will that they may be put in possession of the purchased benefits of redemption; and the Father is pleased to hear and sustain the validity of his claims. As prophet, he makes known to men that all this has been done, informs them plainly that the curse of the law has been removed, God reconciled, and heaven opened for their reception.
Yet will these avail for their salvation? All this may be conceived to be done, and yet not one sinner rescued from the pit, not one rebel restored to the favor of the Almighty, not one child of Adam exalted to glory. Without something more, the benefit arising from these interpositions is lost; without another office, the functions of these two are neutralized. Without regal authority, the sacrifice, however meritorious, has no power; the intercession, however powerful, has no efficacy; the doctrine, however clear, has no saving influence; and the Son of God must be content to see the whole human race perish for ever in their sins, as if his blood had never been either shed on Calvary, or carried within the veil. Such being the case, we can appreciate the import of the answer returned by the Savior to the question of Pilate: “Art thou a king then? 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).
This view of the necessity of the kingly office in particular to the perfection of the others, agrees well with the account given in Scripture of the work of the Messiah. The purchase of redemption having been effected, the ransom for sin paid, the decease at Jerusalem accomplished, what step does he take next? Does he surrender all further concern in the salvation of men? Does he abandon all mediatorial actings, and retire into the bosom of the Father? No. Follow him in his ascension to heaven; see him pressing forward into the presence of God and presenting his petition, “Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:1). Ere it is asked it is granted. This is the address with which the Father salutes him as he enters the heavenly places not made with hands: “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1). As if he had said to him—Thou hast established thy right to that rebel world: I surrender the government of it into thy hands: go through it and find out thy redeemed: gather them from the four winds of heaven: for this purpose institute ordinances, promulgate laws, issue commands, appoint servants, subordinate whatever exists to the gracious and magnificent ends of thine appointment. And what is the result? Why, the miter becomes a crown; the censer a scepter; the Mediator passes from the altar to the throne; heaven becomes at once a temple and a palace, while its walls echo with the loud acclaim of welcome bursting spontaneously from the whole celestial host to the newly inaugurated monarch.
- The kingly dignity of the Mediator is necessary,as a reward of his obedience unto the death.Never was service so meritorious, whether we consider the sacrifice made or the end contemplated. In estimating the sacrifice made in performing this service, we must remember that the Son of God left the bosom of his heavenly Father, the region of uncreated light, and all the attractions of celestial society; that he put the essential splendor of his perfections in eclipse, and assumed the likeness of sinful flesh; that he tabernacled with men on the earth, and there submitted to poverty, reproach, and pain; that he endured the persecution of men and devils, and suffered the most awful and mysterious agony, springing from the hiding of his Father’s countenance. Then, the end contemplated was nothing less than this: that men might be saved from everlasting destruction, made fit for heaven, reinstated in the society of angels and of one another, and restored to the favor of God. When or where was there ever service to compare with that of Christ? Who ever delivered from misery so profound? Who ever exalted to bliss so dignified? Who ever made sacrifices so self-denied in order to accomplish a benevolent undertaking? Here is merit transcendent, overwhelming, which beggars description and sets comparison at defiance.
Should not such service be rewarded? Every principle of moral rectitude says that it should. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26). This is not more a maxim of inspiration than a dictate of right moral feeling; and with this the stipulations of the eternal covenant, inspired predictions, the testimony of the Mediator himself, and the assertions of his apostles, all cordially harmonize.
But in what shall this merited reward consist? Not merely in the satisfaction of his own bosom, and the approbation of his heavenly Father. These are great, indeed, but they are not enough. They are inward, and, however fit to be appreciated by the Savior himself, inadequate for giving expression to others of a sense of the value of his work. There must be something substantial, visible, outwardly glorifying, in the mediatorial reward; something to attract the notice, and call forth the applause of men and angels. Regal exaltation, absolute and unlimited, meets exactly the requirements of the case. If men who have been faithful over a few things are to be rewarded by being made “rulers over many things,” surely it is due to him who, “as a Son, has been faithful, like Moses, over all his house,” that he be made “ruler over all.” Having, as a part of his humiliation, suffered himself to be made subject to rulers, to be placed at their bar, to be judged by their laws, to be counted worthy of death by their unrighteous decree, it is fitting that, in reward of what he has effected, he should be invested with sovereign rule over the princes of this world, and, in his turn, demand of them obedience to his authority, punish them for their proud and obstinate rebellion, and subordinate all their measures and movements to the gracious purposes of his reign.
- Nor is this dominion less requisiteto counteract the opposition made to the work of man’s salvation by its enemies.“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” That a work of such grace and benevolence as that of man’s salvation should provoke hostility, seems strange; but it is not more strange than true. It has many enemies—enemies to its internal operations in the heart; and enemies to its outward administration in the world. Against those internal operations in the heart which salvation supposes, there rise up a host of adversaries. The law, as a covenant of works, by demanding the punishment of the guilty violator, slays the peace of the soul. Indwelling corruptions wage incessant warfare against the quickening, sanctifying, and comforting work of the Spirit. “I find then a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom. 7:21). Satan and his emissaries, numerous, subtle, and powerful, assail by their temptations, accusations, and persecutions. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). The world, with its allurements and terrors, its smiles and frowns, tries to undermine the principles of stability. “Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). Death, by threatening to execute the curse of the broken covenant, awakens slavish fears; deprives of tranquility; maintains in ignoble and distracting bondage. He must be a king in order to threaten to hold the body in corruption, and then to engulf in final ruin both soul and body for ever: “to deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15).
In opposition to the outward administration of the work of Christ in the world, also, a whole host of enemies stand forth. Wilful ignorance, unblushing infidelity, hardened profanity, open idolatry, Mohammedan delusion, Jewish obstinacy, anti-Christian domination, and civil misrule, form a combined phalanx of portentous breadth and depth; an unholy alliance of discordant materials, yet breathing only one spirit of determined enmity to the reign of Christ in the world, and resolved to prevent the progress, and, if possible, to effect the extermination of his kingdom by every means in their power.
Are these enemies to meet with no resistance? Is the kingdom of the Messiah to fall a prey to their rapacious hatred, and that of his great arch-enemy to be erected on its ruins? Certainly not. It is the prayer of every saint that they may meet with a signal defeat. The honor of the Savior himself demands their final overthrow; and the Word of God assures us that such shall be the ultimate issue of the contest. By whom is this end to be brought about, but by the Messiah himself? “My sword,” says he, “shall be bathed in heaven: behold it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood; it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea” (Isa. 34:5-6). “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shalt be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come” (Isa. 63:1-4).
To the accomplishment of this work, investment with regal power and authority is indispensable. In this capacity it is that Jesus encounters his enemies. It is not on the white horse merely, but on the red, the black, and the pale, that he goes forth conquering and to conquer, and bearing back with him from the field of battle the palm of victory. Nor is there anything in this at variance with his general character as Mediator. The Savior of his people, and the conqueror of their foes, are not incompatible features. The prosperity of the people of God is intimately connected with the destruction of their enemies. These things go necessarily hand in hand. At the deluge, the preservation of the true seed and the destruction of those who had corrupted their ways, were inseparably conjoined. The rescue of the Israelites from Egypt stood connected with the overthrow of the Egyptians; and when the Jews were restored from Babylon their Chaldean oppressors were spoiled.
- The kingly office is not less necessaryto meet the needy circumstances of Christ’s own people.They are all of them, by nature, rebels, enemies to Christ, both in their minds and by wicked works; their bosoms rankle with every hostile feeling; the carnal mind is enmity against God, and by nature all are carnal, sold under sin. It is not possible, such being the case, that they should embrace of themselves the overtures of reconciliation, accept without hesitation the offers of mercy, and acquiesce with cordiality and esteem in the terms of salvation. No; they treat them with despite, they spurn them from them with scorn. They must be reconciled—they must be made willing—their imaginations must be brought down. And how but by the Savior’s rod of omnipotent strength sent forth out of Zion; by the irresistible scepter of his grace, swayed with authority for this very end; by the sharp arrows of conviction which penetrate the heart of the King’s enemies only when propelled by him whose right hand teaches terrible things, and who in regal majesty rides prosperously because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness!
They are all by nature guilty, and stand in need of pardon; but to dispense forgiveness is a royal prerogative, and Christ could never have exercised it had he not been a king. They are naturally unruly, and need to be governed; nor can they frame or execute laws for themselves—the Lord is their lawgiver; and to promulgate laws, to enact statutes, belongs to one invested with regal dignity. They are, moreover, weak and defenseless; exposed to the combined opposition of the enemies formerly specified, they have in themselves no ability to withstand either their artifices or their strength; that he may not only restrain and conquer all their enemies, but rule and defend themselves, Christ must hold the office of a king.
Such is the varied necessity that exists for the regal office of the Mediator. A review of the several points by which it is established may serve to strengthen our conviction of the importance attaching to this feature of the character of our Redeemer. Without Christ’s kingly work, the gracious purposes of God could not be executed; the mediatorial character itself would not be complete; the work of salvation must continue unrewarded; the enemies of truth and holiness should finally triumph, and the necessities of the children of God remain for ever unsupplied. Such things cannot—shall not be. “The Lord is our king, and he will save us” (Isa. 33: 22). The exalted Redeemer is at once a “Prince and a Savior” (Acts 5:31).
Reality of Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion
That Christ, besides the dominion which belongs to him originally and essentially as God, is invested with a delegated and official dominion as Mediator, is capable of being established by a variety of cogent proof. The necessity of such dominion to the work of salvation, established in the preceding chapter, itself constitutes an argument of some weight on this point. But other evidence is at hand.
- Long before his advent in the flesh, there wereprefigurationsof this feature of the Savior’s character. Whether all the kings of Israel and Judah are to be regarded as express types of Messiah the Prince or not, it cannot be questioned that some are to be looked upon in this light. This was certainly the case with Melchizedek. That he was a type of Christ is affirmed: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek ” (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:10). The points of accordance are manifold and striking. The very name signifies “king of righteousness,” and points directly to him who, righteous in himself, wrought out for his people a justifying righteousness, works a sanctifying righteousness within them by his Spirit, and sways them with a scepter of righteousness. His designation, “king of Salem,” that is, “king of peace,” fitly enough points out one who, whether as regards the disposition for which he was distinguished, the blessing he died to procure, or the effects of his administration, is well entitled to be called “the Prince of peace.” What he did, in bringing forth bread and wine to Abraham and his army returning from the slaughter of the kings, is no unapt emblem of the spiritual nourishment and refreshment which the Messiah affords to his soldiers engaged in warfare with the enemies of their salvation. But the point which, most of all, marks him out as typical of our mediatorial king, is his combining in his own person the regal and sacerdotal offices. Besides being “king of Salem,” he was “priest of the Most High God” (Heb. 7:2). He was a royal priest—a sacerdotal king—and thus an eminent type of him who, exerting his power on the footing of his purchase, sits “a priest upon his throne.”
Moses resembled Christ, not only in the facts of his personal history and in his official acts as a mediator in general or prophet in particular, but as “king in Jeshurun” (Deut. 33:5). Jeshurun signifies upright, and refers to the people of Israel who were required, and understood to possess this character. The Jewish legislator thus typified Him who, being “king in Zion,” rules among the upright in heart, and governs them with integrity and truth. And as Moses, in the capacity in question, gave his people laws, so Jesus has given his laws, not indeed of carnal ordinances, but of steadfast faith and inward spiritual obedience.
David, too, to say nothing of the import of his name as the beloved, of his personal qualifications, and of his sufferings, cannot fail to strike every one at all acquainted with his history as a remarkable type of Christ—in the auspicious commencement of his power by the signal overthrow of the vaunting champion of the Philistines; in his valor in war, and his wisdom and humanity in peace; in the principles and character of his administration, in which he led his people according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands; and in the covenant of royalty made with him and his seed for ever. So close is the resemblance, that the Messiah himself is more than once spoken of by the prophets under the very name of David (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23-24; Hos. 3:5).
But by none was the mediatorial dominion more strongly prefigured than by Solomon. In the wisdom of his administration, in the extent of his territory, in the wealth of his subjects, and in the peacefulness of his reign, he was a remarkable type of the Messiah; so much so, that in that mystic epithalamium in which the Savior’s excellency and love are so fully set forth, this is the very name by which he is designated: “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon, with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart” (Song of Sol. 3:11).
- Prophecy,as well as type, bore testimony to this view of the Savior’s character. The very first prediction is conceived in terms which allude to the ancient way in which victorious kings expressed their conquest, namely, by placing their feet on the necks of their foes (Gen. 3:15). When the dying patriarch foretold that the “scepter should not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come” (Gen. 49:10), his language clearly enough imports that on him of whom he spake should devolve, at his coming, that judicial and legislative authority which had been previously exercised by others. Balaam prophesied: “There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a SCEPTER [the emblem of regal power] shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17). David said: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion”—a prediction which is expressly applied in the New Testament to Christ (Ps. 2:6;Acts 4:25-26).
The forty-fifth Psalm undoubtedly refers to the Messiah. The circumstances which it details were not verified in the history of Solomon’s reign, besides being, many of them at least, inconsistent with the tenor of his private life, and at variance with the fortunes of his family. The titles by which the person spoken of is saluted, the multitudinous character of his progeny, and the perpetuity of his kingdom, all show that a greater than Solomon is here. Now, in this Psalm, the regal character is sustained throughout: “I speak of the things which I have made touching the king. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter” (Ps. 45:1, 3, 6). But time would fail to enumerate particularly all the prophecies bearing on this point, and we must content ourselves by only referring to some others (Ps. 72; 89:1924; 110:1-3; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1; Jer. 23:5-6; Ezek. 37:24; Zech. 9:9; etc.).
- Many of thetitleswhich are applied to Christ in the Scriptures bear on this subject. He is designated LORD: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36); LEADER and COMMANDER: “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a Leader and Commander to the people” (Isa. 55:4); JUDGE: “The Lord is our Judge” (Isa. 33:22); RULER: “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be Ruler in Israel” (Mic. 5:2).
- The Saviorlaid claim himselfto this character. The passage in which this is related deserves particular attention. “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. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, THOU SAYEST THATI AM A KING. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:33,37). It had been generally rumored that Jesus was king of the Jews. The jealousy of the Roman government was excited. Pilate feels himself bound, from his office, to call him to account on this point. Jesus, while he explains the sense in which his regal character was to be understood, does not deny the fact. On the contrary, he explicitly avows it. No sinister motive could induce him to decline acknowledging it. Nor does he content himself with a mere simple avowal; but he speaks of it as closely connected with the great purpose of his appearance in our world.
- We find that others recognize the validity of his claim. It is acknowledged by intelligent and moral beings of every class and rank. At the head of these, stands God the Father himself: “Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head” (Ps. 21:3); “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).
Next come angels, tuning their harps of gold to the praises of Zion’s King: “And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb,” said the angel to Mary, “and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him THE THRONE of his father David: and he shall REIGN over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his KINGDOM there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33). “And I heard the voice of many angels,” says John, “round about the throne, saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive POWER, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:11-12).
Then follow the saints, with notes less high, perhaps, but not less distinct or sincere. “The star-led wizards” inquire for “the heaven-born child,” in these words, “Where is he that is born KING of the Jews?” while, as an act of lowly homage, they unfold their ordoriferous treasures and lay them at his feet (Matt 2:2). Nathaniel witnessed this good confession: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the KING of Israel” (John 1:49). And the Apostle of the Gentiles, as he exhibits Jesus Christ “for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” exclaims, “Now unto the KING eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever, amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).
His enemies are reluctantly compelled to bring up the rear of witnesses to his royal claims. The Jewish multitude rent the air with their shouts as he entered into Jerusalem, crying, “Hosanna, blessed is the KING of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). The Roman soldiers unwittingly bore their part as they “bowed the knee before him and mocked him, saying, Hail, KING of the Jews!” (Matt. 27:29). And Pontius Pilate must needs cause to be put on his cross, written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin, the unalterable title, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS”—a title which was read, we may conclude, with profit by many of the multitude, and which was, perhaps, the principal means of conveying to the malefactor that knowledge of the Savior’s character which led to his conversion (John 19:19).
- In harmony with all this evidence, is the circumstance that royalappendages aredescribed as belonging to him. We say nothing here of his kingdom, as this will fall to be spoken of afterwards. He wears royal titles. As expressive of his being the inherent source, the meritorious author, and liberal bestower and supporter of spiritual and eternal being, he is called the “PRINCE OF LIFE” (Acts 3:15); to denote his dominion and authority, he is spoken of as “KING OF THE SAINTS” (Rev. 15:3); and, as indicative of his absolute and universal supremacy, he is represented as having on his vesture and on his thigh the splendid inscription, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
He occupies a throne—the seat of royalty—from which the king dispenses his laws, and on which he receives the homage of his subjects: “Thy THRONE O God, is for ever and ever” (Ps. 45:56); “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my THRONE” (Rev. 3:1-2).
His head is adorned with a crown of purest radiance, surpassing in worth and beauty the most costly diadem ever worn by an earthly monarch, composed of the richest material: and studded with the brightest gems‑its substance being true honor, and its jewels immortal souls. “Thou settest a CROWN of purest gold on his head” (Ps. 21:3). “Thou hast CROWNED him with glory and honour” (Ps. 8:5). “Upon himself shall his CROWN flourish” (Ps. 132:18). “They shall be mine in that day when I make up my JEWELS” (Mal. 3:16).
He wields a scepter, the rod of office, the symbol of regal authority, and the instrument by which the monarch at once gathers and governs his people, and smites and subdues his enemies. “The SCEPTER of thy kingdom is a right SCEPTER” (Ps. 45:6). “The Lord shall send the ROD of thy strength out of Zion” (Ps. 110:2). “Thou shalt break them with a ROD of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:9).
Laws are essential to dominion; it cannot exist long without them; and there can be no administration where they are entirely wanting. The Messiah is not without these; the Scriptures are the law of the Lord—a code at once righteous, suitable, extensive, and efficacious: “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good” (Rom. 7:12); “being not without law to God, but under law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21).
Numerous and glorious are his attendants. At the giving of the law they are thus described: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them: he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with TEN THOUSAND OF SAINTS” (Deut. 33:2). At his advent: “Suddenly there was with the angels a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13, 14). During his life: “ANGELS came and ministered unto him” (Matt. 4:11). At his ascension: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even THOUSANDS OF ANGELS: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive” (Ps. 68:17-18). And, at his second coming, when the judgment shall be set and the books opened: “THOUSANDS, THOUSANDS shall minister unto him, and TEN THOUSAND TIMES TEN THOUSAND stand before him” (Dan. 7:10). “Behold the Lord cometh with TEN THOUSAND OF HIS SAINTS” (Jude 14).
Then, he has his servants and ambassadors. Of the elements, it is said: “He maketh his MINISTERS a flaming fire” (Ps. 104:4). Of the angelic tribes: “Are they not all MINISTERING SPIRITS sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). Of the ministers of religion: “Now, then, we are AMBASSADORS for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God” (2 Cor. 5:20). “Let a man so account of us as of the MINISTERS of CHRIST” (1 Cor. 4:1).
How shall we describe his revenues‑the honor, and glory, and worship, and respect, and esteem, and constant obedience, which he exacts as tribute from all the subjects of his dominion? “He is thy Lord, and worship thou him” (Ps. 45:11). “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him all the earth” (Ps. 96:8-9). And all the royal prerogatives of apprehending and liberating, of condemning and acquitting, of life and death, of pardon and execution, belong to him without reserve: “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deut. 32:39).
Such, if we may so speak, are the insignia of the Mediator, insignia of transcendent value and matchless splendor. No titles like his titles; no throne of such peerless majesty; no crown of such overpowering radiance; no scepter of such resistless might; no laws so equitable or beneficent; no retinue so large or so illustrious; no ministers so dignified; no revenues so rich; no prerogatives so absolute, as his! “Who in the heaven can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto him?”
Of the reality of Christ’s mediatorial dominion there can thus be no doubt. Great must be the guilt of those who deny it. To do so is to nullify types; to contradict prophecy; to blot out the Savior’s titles; to give the faithful and true Witness himself the lie; to convert his regalia into empty baubles; and to reduce his prerogatives to mere mockery and show. While we profess to recognize and acknowledge the Prince of life, let us not, by reducing our acknowledgment to an empty form, be guilty of re‑acting the impious mockery of those who, in derision of his claims, placed on his head a crown of thorns, put on him a purple robe, and as they shouted, “Hail, King!” smote him with their hands. Rather, let us place on his head the crown of our salvation, submit cheerfully to be governed by his laws, and look forward to being honored to sit with him on his throne of glory in the heavens.