NT Connect: Ephesians 1:15-23
Weekly Reading: 1 Samuel 8-12
Jesus is King
As Israel’s prophet Samuel approached death, the Israelites grew insecure about God’s ability to protect them from the perpetual threat posed by the surrounding nations. They complained to Samuel that they wanted to “be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us” (1 Sam. 8:19-20 NIV). Samuel was distraught, but God assured him that “it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king” (8:6-7 NIV). When humans find their security in things like earthly kings, they are to this degree rebelling against God’s desire for them to have him alone as their ruler.
God knew that Israel would never find an earthly king that would live up to the standards he had given in Deuteronomy 17, nor would people even try to hold a king to these standards. However, in Ephesians 1:20-21, we read that God has raised Jesus “. . . from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:20-21 NIV). Jesus is our exalted king. He announced and enacted the kingdom of God.
Here are some examples of the ways of King Jesus. In Matthew 20, James and John come to Jesus seeking to be at his right hand and his left hand. They are thinking of a human kingdom; Jesus not only rebukes them, but he calls all the disciples together and says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-27 NIV). In Matthew 19, a young man comes to Jesus and says, “What must I do to gain everlasting life?” When Jesus says, “Well, keep the commandments,” the young man replies, “I’ve done that from my youth.” Then Jesus looks on him, with love, and says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:16-22 NIV). The young man went away sad because he had great possessions. He wasn’t willing to leave his pursuit of wealth and let go of his desire for more and more. In Matthew 26, the temple guards are coming to take Jesus prisoner. One of his disciples tries to defend Jesus. He draws his sword and slices off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus says, “Put away your sword. Those who live by the sword die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52 NIV). Jesus heals the person whose ear has been severed. He reaches out in love.
As we worship Jesus as king, we must recognize he is not a king according to the ways of the world. Jesus brings about the reign of God, which is where God’s ways permeate our ways, God’s thoughts become our thoughts, and his way leads peace forever in the reign of God