And He Will Reign
So when I get home on Sundays from church, the first question I usually ask Kathryn is, “How do you think the sermon went.” That’s the first thing I want to know. Was I clear? Did I communicate well? Did I teach what the passage taught? I want to know what Kathryn thinks about those questions. So last week when we got home, I ask her this question. She told me my sermon stunk. No, I’m joking. She said I did good but she had a question about something that I said during the sermon. She said to me, “When you were talking about Jesus being present with us in the congregation, what did you mean when you said, ‘Jesus is breathing and active?’ What did you mean by Jesus is ‘breathing?’” My response was something like, “I said that?” And she said, “Yes, you did. I put it in quotes in my journal.” I have absolutely no idea what I mean when I said that, I told her. I think what I mean to say was, Jesus is living and active,” not “breathing and active.” I have no idea what I meant. Sometimes what happens is that as I get going in my sermon I will make a statement that is not always measured and one that I haven’t really thought through.
Another example of this. This is a funny one. So one Sunday some months back I mentioned to the congregation at the beginning of the service that Pastor Jesse will be in the foyer after service and that he would like to greet you. My exact words, though, went something like this, “Pastor Jesse will be in the back foyer. He would love the opportunity to get to know you intimately.” As soon as the word “intimately” I knew I hadn’t spoken correctly. Then Pastor Jesse came up after the sermon and said, “So I want to get to know people more intimately, huh? What? Do you want me to kiss them or something.” We had a good chuckle. What I meant to say was, “Pastor Jesse would love the opportunity to get to know you personally,” not “intimately.” LOL.
I share these stories to let you know that both Pastors Jesse and I can and do make comments from the pulpit that are incorrect. Hopefully we make mistakes that are just of these silly types. But we might make other types of mistakes, like misinterpreting scripture. And I say that to say this: if you ever have a question about what it is that we say from the pulpit, we both very much want to talk with you about that. If you have a question about what we said, like, “What did you mean by this?” Please come share that. If you have a concern with what we’ve said, please share that. Or if you have an encouragement, please share that, too. While Jesse and I are up here preaching on Sunday morning, the sermon is a monologue from us to you. But after the sermon is over and throughout the week, we both want that sermon to be a dialogue between us and you. We want to hear from you regarding the Sunday morning sermons. Your thoughts and opinions greatly matter to us.
Just to review a bit from last week. We are in an Advent series. As we approach Christmas, I want us to be prepared to receive the Lord by faith on Christmas morning. This goal of this series is to conjure up in you a greater and deeper affection and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, we are examining four different “sermons” that the angels give to Joseph (that was last week), Mary (this week), and the Shepherds (next week). The way we are examining these passages is in light of the gospel. Last week I defined gospel this way. The gospel is:
The story of the person and work of Christ in his first and second coming
This morning we will study this passage in Luke 1 to see what the angel tells us regarding the person of Christ—who he is—and the work of Christ—what he does—in his first coming, in his first advent.
I have two points for you this morning. The first point will be about Jesus’ person, who he is, and the second point will be about his work, what he does. And we will end the sermon with some application.
Jesus is King
For the first point this morning, dear brothers and sisters, write this. “Jesus is King.” We are not going to begin this morning by jumping immediately into our passage in Luke 1. Instead, what I want to do is I want to build a case from the OT regarding Jesus as King. You cannot understand the NT apart from the OT. While they are different testaments and they have different features about them, they are meant to be understood as two parts to one single story. And what the angel presents to us in Luke regarding Jesus as King is a message of kingship regarding the coming Messiah that is rooted in the OT. So to better understand what the angel says, I want us to see how the OT presents its picture of the coming Messiah King. By studying these OT passages, we will see how Jesus is the fulfilment of what the OT teaches regarding who the Messiah will be. We will explore three texts to do this. We’re going to have to flip around in our Bibles to see this, but I can assure you it will be worth the effort.
The first text is Gen 49:8–10. Turn with me there. This is what the passage says,
Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
A little bit of context to explain this passage. The book of Genesis traces God’s promise of a future deliver beginning with Eve, then to Noah, then to Abraham, then to Issac, and then to Jacob. In chapter 49, this chapter that we are in, Jacob is about to die and he blesses his twelve sons before he dies. Jacob singles out Judah here in a way that he doesn’t single out his other boys. Specifically, Jacob passes the promise that began with Eve to Judah.
In v. 9, Jacob specifies that Judah is a lion. Lion’s reign and rule. They crush their enemies. They are to be feared. Then in v. 10 there is a mention of a “scepter.” This scepter is a sign of Judah’s future reign and rule. Kings have scepters. Judah’s reign, though, goes beyond a normal king’s reign. Notice how v. 10 ends. The passage says,
to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Woah. Judah’s reign rises to the level of worship. People will worship this King of Judah. Wow! The fulfillment of this promise must be a King who is a decendant of the tribe of Judah who is worshipped by people. The fulfillment must be both God and man.
2 Sam 7
The OT doesn’t end there. The story continues. Judah dies but this promise to Judah remains alive and well. It shows up again and again, but it shows up uniquely with King David. Turn with me to 2 Sam 7:12. We will read through v. 16. This is what Nathan the Prophet says to David.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.
If you continue reading the OT, what you will see is that some of this prophecy is fulfilled by Solomon—specifically, Solomon builds a house for God—the temple—and specifically v. 14 when it says, “When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men.” However, there’s so much in this passage that is not fulfilled by Solomon. Nathan specifies that to David there is a coming a greater David, a David is also a Son of God. And this Davidic King, his reign and rule will last forever. There is not boundary to this King’s reign.
Once again what we see in this passage is that there is a coming King, one that surpasses what Solomon can do. This King’s throne will be established forever. This King, God specifies, will be a son of God. And this King will come from the line of David.
One last passage, dear friends: Dan 7:13–14. This is what the passage says,
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
What I want you to notice in this passage is the kingship overtones. David is not mentioned here specifically. But notice the similarity between the promise given to Judah regarding obedience and this Son of Man who the Ancient of Days gives to him the obedience of all people. This person who is referred to here as “a son of man,” YHWH gives to him a kingdom in which people serve him. YHWH gives to this man an eternal Kingdom.
Conclusion of OT
Let’s tie all these strands together. What is the OT as a whole and these three passages specifically telling us about this promised figure in the OT. He will be a King. He will reign and rule. But he will be a certain type of King. He will be a King who is a decendant of David but also he seems to be portrayed in a way that goes beyond what a human king can do. In Gen 49 we are told that people will worship, obey him. In 2 Sam 7 we are told that his kingdom will never go away. And in Dan 7 we are told that he will have ultimate authority and that people will serve him. WOW!
Kingship in Luke
Now with that background information in mind, let’s turn to our passage for this morning. It is Luke 1:30. Let’s go ahead and read the passage together. This is what we are going to see. In Jesus, all of what the OT teaches regarding this person who will one day come are fulfilled. Jesus is a King. But he is a certain type of King. He is a King who is a Son of David and the Son of God. Thus says the Lord,
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. 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.”
The main emphasis of this passage, the main message that the angel wants to convey to Mary, is that her Son, the little boy who is in her womb, that boy will one day be a king. This idea of Jesus as King is mentioned at the end of v. 32. The angel says,
And the Lord God will hive to him the throne of his father David.
Notice the word throne here. The angel here is referencing Jesus’ kingship. Kings sit on thrones. By referencing a throne, the angel is telling Mary that her son will one day sit on a throne. He will one day be king.
Because he will one day be king, he will one day exercise authority and dominion as a king. This is specified in v. 33. The angel says,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob
As a King, Jesus will reign. Specifically, the angel states. Jesus will reign as the King of Israel. The angel uses the name Jacob here. Genesis specifies that Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, the son of Isaac, and the father of twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob is also referred to in Genesis as “Israel.” Jacob is given the name Israel from the angel who he wrestles with in chapter 32. So, when the angel in Luke 1 tells Mary that her Son, Jesus, will reign over the house of Jacob, this is just another way of saying that Jesus will reign over the house of Israel. Jesus is Israel’s King, in other words.
Son of David
That’s the main emphasis of this passage. That Mary’s Son is going to be a king is the main piece of information that the angel tells Mary. However, that is not all she tells Mary. The angel also specifies that Jesus is a King but he is a unique and special type of King. There are many kings in the world, but Jesus is the King of kinds. The angel specifies for us that Jesus will be a special type of King.
Looking again with me at v. 31. The angel specifies that Jesus is the type of King that is the Son of David. Read with me the end of v. 31. The angel says,
And the Lord God will hive to him the throne of his father David.
Notice that the angel refers to David, this is a reference to King David, as Jesus’ father. If David is Jesus’ father, that, by implication, means that Jesus is a Son of David. By referencing Jesus as a Son of David, the angel places Jesus within a rich OT context of the Davidic king. As we will see shortly when we explore the OT, one of the central messages of the OT is that there is a coming King who will be in the line of David. This promises begins in the story of Genesis and weaves itself through the OT. This Son that Mary will have is a King, but he is also a Davidic kind.
Son of God
Now this qualification of a coming Davidic king still does not make Jesus entirely unique. Prior to Jesus, there were many Davidic kings. Davidic kings, if you know your OT well, come and go. They are important but there have been many of them. For Jesus to be a unique type of King, there needs to be something more about him than just a Davidic King.
As we examine our passage again, what we will see is that the angel adds one more layer of meaning to the idea that Jesus is King. So Jesus will be a Davidic King, but what type of Davidic King will he be? The angel answers by saying that Jesus is a Davidic King and also a divine King. Look with me a v. 32 again, the beginning part. The angel says,
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High
This Jesus, this King, will be a Son of David, as we just saw, and he will also be a “Son of the Most High.” “Most High” here is a reference to YHWH, or, how we would understand it, as the Father.
This point of Jesus as the Son of God is stated slightly differently in Luke 1:35. Look there. The angel says,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God
Notice here in v. 35 Jesus is called the Son of God. And also notice that Jesus has no biological father. The Holy Spirit is what generates Jesus’ birth, not a man. Jesus is unlike any man ever born before. His Father is God by means of the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God.
Now, jump back to the end of v. 33. I want you to notice how the angel describes Jesus reign. The angels says at the end of v. 33,
And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
This is not a normal reign. This Jesus’ reign will be forever and his Kingdom will have no end. This Jesus is not your tradition King of David. There have been many Kings of David, but never one who reigns forever.
What’s all this mean? Let’s pull it together. What is the angel saying regarding who Jesus is?
The angel is telling Mary that her Son, that little boy in her belly, that Son is the fulfillment of all that the OT Scriptures teaches. The angel specifies that Jesus will be a King. That’s not necessarily special, though. Back then and today, there have been Kings. The angel further specifies that Jesus will be a Davidic type of King. Once again, though, in Scripture there were many Davidic Kings. Although they were important in Scripture, there not unique. The last detail the angel gives us regarding who Jesus is it that he is a Davidic King who is also the Son of God. God is his Father. His reign will go far beyond what other Davidic Kings have gone. Jesus, the angel tells us, his reign will be forever. He has no earthly Father. His Father is God. The King Jesus will be a Son of David and also the Son of God. In other words, this King is both God and man. An incredible picture. That is who Jesus is. He is King but he is a unique King. He is the Son of God and Son of David King. He is both the God-man King.
Wow. What a King we have in King Jesus. Jesus is the long-expected Messiah who is the Davidic and divine King. What a Savior we have. He is King. And as King, he reigns. That’s what Jesus does. Here I am segueing into my second and final point. If you’re taking notes, write this, “Jesus reigns.” Very simple. It follows very naturally from our first point and from the text. Let me show you where in Luke 1 I am getting this. Look at v. 33. We’ve seen this verse already but it’s good to see it again. The angel says,
And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end
Jesus reigns. The passage says, “And he [Jesus] will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Jesus’ kingdom is over Israel but it’s not limited to that. As we saw in the OT, Jesus will be a ruler of the whole world. His Kingdom begins in Israel but stretches over all the universe.
Degree of Reign and Rule
Now the degree to which Jesus Christ is reigning and ruling right now is debated. My position on the matter is that Jesus reign is partial. That is, he is reigning and ruling but not to the full degree. You can see evidences of his reign and rule. But we are waiting a day to fully see and feel that. The most obvious evidence that Jesus’ reign and rule is not final is that believers still die. When Jesus returns, when he fully reigns and rules, there will be no more death. We await that. That is not yet. Nonetheless, we see his reign and rule all around us.
Our Historical Context
To bring this point out, that Jesus is reigning, I’d like for us to just take a step back and consider our context. So here we are joined together on December 13, 2020 in Pierre, South Dakota, in the good ol’ USA. Here we are gathered to hear the Word of God. We all, mostly, are Gentiles. For most of us, we have no lineage that we can trace back to the Jewish people. Most of us, Gentiles, come together every Sunday to hear the gospel proclaimed. The story of a Jewish man, Jesus. We believe that this man is the Savior of the world. That he is the light in the darkness. That he is the fulfillment of all that God promised to Israel in the OT. We read this message that is some 2,000 years old. We read it and we proclaim.
How on earth did we get from point A (when the angel gave this story) to point B (where we are today)? Do you think about that question? That is an amazing question. This story of the gospel began with a Jewish baby being born in an obscure town in ancient Israel. And somehow that story has gotten to us and we believe it is the story that saves all mankind.
To make this a bit concrete, think about the Bible. In the Sunday school class, I am teaching today, we are studying the process of how we got the Bible. If you do not have a Sunday school class to go to, we welcome you to come to our class. The Bible did not just fall from heaven. The process of us getting what it is that prophets and apostles wrote regarding our Lord was a process filled with blood, sweat, and tears. We have the Bible readily accessible. We can even pull it up on our phones. Dear friends, this is a tremendous blessing and a historical novelty. Furthermore, it is a sign of Jesus’ reign and rule.
This week I was reading to my kids from this book. It’s called Epic, An Around the World Journey through Christian History. It’s written by Tim Challies. It’s a great book. The author goes from place to place, exploring different artifacts of Christian history. He ends the book by discussing the YouVersion Bible app. This app, I believe, was the first Bible app invented. In his conclusion section of the chapter, he draws between the type of Bible access that Christians had in the early church and the type of Bible access that Christians have today with these apps like the YouVersion Bible app. This is what Challies says, the Bible that many Christians have access to today, and the
Our brief and very limited survey of church history has shown that for most of the history of Christianity, access to God’s word has been scarce. Historically, the Bible has been both rare and expensive. But in a digital world, the Bible can be infinitely duplicated and distributed at no cost. We live in a time of transition, from an era of Bible scarcity to an era of Bible abundance. As the internet extends to the farthest reaches of the earth, so, too, does the reach of God’s Word.
Based on this quote, how is it that Jesus is reigning and ruling right now? Jesus is reigning and ruling by means of his word. His word is all throughout this world. As God’s word spreads to the farthest reaches of the world, so too does his reign and rule. Jesus is reigning right here, right now by means of his word. One day, the Bible says,
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea
That reign and rule is happening right now. Right now in this very second by means of Jesus word coming to you.
Application to the Indifferent
Now for some application. To make Jesus reign and rule more complete in our lives. The way I want to apply this message—this message that Jesus is the long-expected Messiah who is the Davidic and divine King—is by means of encouragement. I want to encourage and embolden you with this application. Specifically, I want to speak to the fearful, to those who uniquely struggle with fear.
For many of you in 2020 you have struggled with fear more this year than ever. Many have struggled with fear because of Covid. Either you have feared getting COVID yourself and becoming very ill or your family members and friends getting COVID and becoming very sick. Many have felt this. I have felt this. Or you fear for the direction of our country. You might fear what the future has for your children or your children’s children. You see our country more divided than it has ever been and you are not hopeful. In fact, you’re terrified with where you think this country is headed. Or there is something else in your life that you are very fearful about and COVID and the current state of our nation has only made things worse. You crave security. You crave stability. You crave safety. You search in vain for it in this world. You are not alone.
Listen to this little news clip.
During the hardest moments of a particularly difficult year, Bible searches soared online, and a record number of people turned to Scripture for passages addressing fear, healing, and justice. The popular YouVersion Bible App saw searches increase by 80 percent in 2020, totaling nearly 600 million worldwide. Isaiah 41:10 ranked as the most searched, read, and bookmarked verse on the app: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“Through every hardship, people continue to seek God and turn to the Bible for strength, peace, and hope,” said YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald. “While 2020 is a year so many say they’d like to forget, we see it as a year to remember how God used the Bible App to help so many people who are searching for answers.” Bible searches spiked corresponding to major events, with “fear” becoming the app’s top search term in the first few months of the year, “justice” in the spring, and “healing” trending throughout the year.
Many people are struggling with fear. And Jesus has something to remind you of, dear friend. Jesus is reigning right now. His reign is untouchable. It is not contingent on who is or who is not in the White House. It is not contingent on whether or not a vaccine is available or not. His reign and rule was spoken of thousands of years in the past and is being fulfilled right now. Right now Jesus is building his kingdom through the hearts of his people. And his word to you, dear brother and sister who struggles with fear, is fear not. He reigns. He is in control. He is faithful. One day, brothers and sisters, he will return. As he has come the first time, he will come again. Dear Christians, just as Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the OT points to, so also Jesus is the fulfillment, the incarnation of everything we long for and need. He provides us the security that we so desperately long for and need.