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  • Writer's pictureWill Stockdale

Christ, Our King

Jesus sits on the throne, even now

In his book Dynasty, historian Tom Holland tells the story of the House of Caesar from its founding by Julius Caesar in 44 BC to the reign of Nero ending in 68 AD. The stories told of the first 6 emperors of Rome are often vile in the extreme. While it is true that the Roman Empire was impressive in many ways, the brutal behavior of its leaders was often more befitting beasts than men. Reading about the self-deifying claims of men like Augustus, who chose to refer to himself as “son of a god,” or the morally revolting actions of men like Caligula, whose deeds are unfit to be recounted in a devotional, one has little doubt as to the disposition and opinion most Christians would have had to the absolute leader of the Roman world.

There is some debate as to the date The Book of Revelation was written. Scholars are divided largely between Nero and Domitian. Either way, by the time the final book of the Christian Scriptures was penned believers had lived through Claudius’ exile of Jews from Rome, which would have included Jewish Christians and Nero’s wicked persecution of Christians.

As the early Christians gathered to worship and live according to the teachings of Jesus they existed as salt and light in a decaying and darkened world. Such events and such a world would have deepened the early Christians’ faith and fostered a hope for a good King to one day rule over them. A King to bring forth justice and destroy the forces of darkness. Such a king is revealed in Revelation 19.

In Revelation 19:16 we read, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” In this chapter Jesus is depicted as a rider on a white horse whose “eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems… From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” This is no morally compromised or inept ruler like the emperor Tiberius, but a mighty King who has the power to do away with those who work evil and establish a reign of righteousness.

It was somewhat common in Byzantine art to refer to Jesus Christ as Pantokrator: Jesus Christ, Ruler of All. In these images Jesus would sometimes be depicted as holding an orb with a cross on the top to demonstrate his sovereign kingship over all the world. Such an image is not merely metaphorical, or even only to be in the future. Even now he is reigning as King. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us in “Question 26: ​​How doth Christ execute the office of a king? Answer: Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.”

He is truly the ruler of the world. He defeated the powers of sin, death, and the devil. His poured out blood offers atonement for our sins. He ascended to the right hand of the Father. And from there he defends us, fights for us, as our King. One day we will see him ride out on that white horse. Eyes blazing, a voice like many waters. And he will destroy all evil and wickedness forever. Until then, we continue our worship of the Father, love for our neighbor, and walk assured of his powerful protection.

Rev. Will Stockdale is Ministry to State's Director of D.C. ministry.


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