As Asian Americans many children grew up, especially in the 80’s and 90’s, watching “old school” traditional kung fu movies that emphasized on the protagonist’s ability to master an ancient complex fighting style. These films featured international stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and more. Story-lines to each film remained relatively similar: bad guy kills loved one, good guy takes revenge. Yet story-lines were not what kept the interest of the audience, but rather the action, movements, and ability of the actors to achieve death defying stunts with little to no hesitation. These kung fu warriors were masters to us all who were fans.
My brother-in-law, Enosh, had such a sinsei when he was younger. At the time my wife’s cousin was staying with her family and became extremely close to my, at the time, 4 year old brother-in-law. They would spend countless hours together during the day while all the other siblings raced off to school and after school programs. Enosh was left at home to master the art of kung fu with his sinsei supervision. Training sessions began with episodes of Power Rangers and old VHS tapes of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Training was difficult, but well worth it for this aspiring warrior who stood no taller that three feet.
Yet this picture resonates well with our innate ontological nature to yearn for something greater than ourselves. The Word of God communicates that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV). Man’s bent toward a deity, whether it is played out by worshipping the self or a god, is innate because the Creator God has placed that desire in the hearts of men.
In observing the world there is an internal realization that creation is not what it is meant to be. Scripture communicates to us that “the whole of creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22 ESV). Creation’s groaning implies that “creation has been subjected to futility, which means that creation has been knocked down from where it was to where it is.”1 Within the brokenness of the world “there simply can be no good news if God does not break in with kingly authority. If God does not come with sovereign rights as King of the universe, there will be only hopelessness in this world.”2
Matthew 4:17 ESV, “17 From a that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'”
Jesus is King:
The scope of redemptive history points to the realization that the saints of old were longing to see the day of the anointed one; the Christ. They were looking to see the fulfillment of the messianic king who would come and restore the nation of Israel and fulfill the prophetic salvation of Genesis 3:15. As Jesus’ time drew near John the Baptist, the one who was to prepare the way for the messiah, declared to the people “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2 ESV). This kingdom is coming because the King is about to make His entrance. Christ not only plays the role of Priest and Prophet, but embodies the fullness of King. Though Christ has not exercised the fullness of His eternal kingly reign, the kingdom presented in His earthly ministry is a mysterious reign “only in the hearts of those who know Him as Savior and Lord.”3 At the consummation of His return Christ’s Lordship will be fully exercised and fully acknowledged by all of creation.
The office of king, as with the previous two offices, have in its function messianic implications. These roles, established by God, are to point the nation of Israel, as well as the world, to the final work and person of Jesus Christ. The make up of the “Old Testament was not primarily a history of Israel but a revelation of God — it revealed Him to Israel through their history.”4 Therefore the revelation of Christ in “the Old Testament institutions are called shadows of Gospel truth. A shadow implies likeness and resemblance with what casts the shadow.”5 Jesus — the Priest — is the greater Moses while Jesus the Prophet is above all the other prophets who spoke on God’s behalf.
The throne of the king was established in Saul through the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 9 – 11). Israel longed for a king to govern and rule over them and they pleaded with God to grant them their desire. Therefore, “God commanded Samuel to accede to their request by anointing Saul as king.”6 As time progress David held the reign of king and through him God established the Davidic covenant. In this covenant God established that He would “raise up [David’s] offspring . . . and [He would] establish His Kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:12 ESV). Through the line of David the messiah would come and reign. Ultimately, “Jesus is of the royal family of David: Great David’s greater son; both David’s son and David’s Lord.”7
David became, as theologians would reference, a type of Christ that was a shadow of the one to come. Typology is the understanding “that many of God’s former actions with Israel (or with others in the OT) were ‘types’ of what He was now doing in Christ.”8 Christ becomes the greater David in leading the church to greater joys and ultimate freedom in God through His cross. Christ’s reign, in the hearts’ of believers, is a loyalty and devotion to His work on the cross and power through the resurrection.
As the New Testament era began Jesus did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; . . [He came] to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17 ESV). The Davidic Covenant would render Jesus as a descendent from the line of David. He brought forth a kingdom contrary to what His Jewish people had fathomed and came to rule in their hearts. Upon Jesus’s conception Mary was informed that “He will be great and 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” (Luke 1:32 – 33 ESV).
Christ came to establish His Kingdom but not in the fashion of men but through the wisdom of God. His purpose was to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 ESV). This Kingdom would see the King give His life for His people. Jesus’s Kingdom would see the King serving His people and showcasing His character, kindness, and love. His Kingdom was not limited to land or destination, but rather rested in the hearts of His people. Jesus’s Kingdom is eternal. During His time with Pilate Jesus articulated by saying, “My Kingdom is not of this wold. If my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36 ESV).
In a time of countless teachers, pastors, mentors, counselors, and more we realize that Christ embodies them all in fullness and completion. He is the ultimate master and provider. He is the limitless giver and caretaker. He is the fullness of love and compassion. All of this as our King and Savior. Our part is to come to him in humility and a contrite heart asking that He would forgive us and receive us as sons and daughters. Our meekness is not a scheme to persuade His acceptance, but rather a positioning of heart to communicate our dependance upon Him. Repentance is a “willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death [that] is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like.”9
As King, God is not a tyrant who is demanding our begrudging submission, but rather He is inviting us into His joy. His decrees and statutes are established so that His “joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11 ESV). The Creator God “designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.”10 This good news by the King is “an announcement of something that has happened in history, something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. . . The Gospel is that God connects to you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you.”11 “The promise of salvation is part of the Gospel, but the actual experience of salvation in particular persons is not part of the Gospel, but the result of the Gospel.”12 The King, being gracious and compassion in character, gives us Himself — ultimate joy!
1 Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson. The Explicit Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 91.
2 John Piper. God is the Gospel: Meditation on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 27.
3 John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1 – 7 (Chicago: Moody Publisher, 1985), 56.
4 David Murray. Jesus On Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 61.
5 ibid, 147.
6 Mark Dever. The Message of the Old Testament (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 252.
7 John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: And Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2013), 908.
8 William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 183.
9 C. S. Lewis. Mere Christianity (New York: Harper One, 1996), 57.
10 ibid., 50.
11 Timothy Keller. Jesus The King: Understanding the Life and Death of The Son of God (New York: Riverhead Books, 2011), 16 – 17.
12 Piper, 32.