We gather on Easter morning to celebrate Jesus – the Creator of the universe, the one who came into this world as a baby in a manger, the one who performed miracles and spoke the truth of God, the one who was crucified for the sins of the world, the one who supernaturally rose from the dead, the one who ascended back into heaven and sits on His sovereign throne, and the one who one day will return as the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
Early on Sunday morning, as the sun was rising, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb of Jesus. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! And an angel came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone that was in front of the tomb, and sat on it. His face was shining like lightning and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw the angel, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here! For He has risen from the dead, just as he said He would … Now, go and tell the disciples … And the women ran from the tomb. They were frightened but also filled with joy … And along the way, they saw Jesus! He greeted them. And they fell before Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him.” (Matthew 28:1-6, paraphrased)
Over the next 40 days, Jesus appeared multiple times to multiple people. He even appeared to 500 people at one time. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. After those 40 days, Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat by His Father, from which He watches and reigns over the world as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Apostle John was allowed a peek into heaven to see and hear what is going on around the throne of God. And John heard all the creatures of heaven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive honor and glory and praise forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13).
Jesus is worthy to be praised because the first time He came, He wore the crown of thorns. But the next time He comes, He will be wearing the crown of glory. Jesus is coming back to reign as the King of kings and Lord of lords.[i] This morning, I want to speak less as a teacher and more as an artist. My hope is that every word I speak will be like a brush stroke in painting a glorious portrait of Jesus Christ as the King of kings.
In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, the Apostle John was allowed a glimpse into heaven and a preview of what is to come. And our understanding of human history is incomplete unless we realize what is really going on. The real story, the grander story, is that Jesus Christ is alive and one day will return to this earth as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
This is how John described it.
“I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.’ … Again they shouted: ‘Hallelujah!’ … and all the creatures of heaven fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried out, ‘Amen, Hallelujah!’ Then a voice came from the throne, summoning all the creatures of heaven, ‘Praise our God, all His servants, all who fear him, both small and great’ Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting, ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come’” (Revelation 19:1-7, paraphrased).[ii]
John heard all of heaven shout “Hallelujah.” This is the first time this word appears in the New Testament. It’s as if “Hallelujah” is reserved for this moment, for this climax in history.
George Handel was in poor health and facing bankruptcy. His creditors threatened to throw him in jail and his musical career was almost over. In deep despair, Handel isolated himself to seek God’s help. He withdrew to his music as a refuge. He wasn’t looking to compose anything; he was looking to survive. Yet in that isolation, his famous masterpiece was born. Handel wrote the “Messiah” in 23 days. He was so immersed in his work that his food was left untouched for days. Handel said of those days, “I could see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” When the “Messiah” was first performed in London, in 1743, at the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” the King of England stood to his feet. And of course, the rest of the audience stood too. The King of England realized there was a greater king, and that night he honored the King of kings. To this day, everyone stands at the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” But one day, the entire earth will stand and sing “Hallelujah” when the real King of kings returns.
This is not fiction. This is not some mythical tale like The Lord of the Rings. This is really going to happen.
John described this preview of the future. “I saw heaven opened and before me was a white horse” (Revelation 19:11). When Roman generals returned from battle in victory, they rode a white horse leading their armies in a parade before Caesar. One day, Jesus will return riding a white horse of victory.
Verse 11 calls Him “Faithful and True.” Verse 12 says, “He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He himself.” And verse 13 says, “His name is the Word of God.” He is truth and every word He speaks is true.
“With righteousness He judges and makes war. And His eyes are like blazing fire” (Revelation 19:11-12). He is coming with fury and justice, to judge and destroy all wickedness and rebellion, and to right every wrong. Jesus will judge every sin, every abuse, and every crime.
Following Him will be “the armies of heaven … riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” (Revelation 19:14-15). Jesus with blazing eyes and a sword coming out of his mouth. Not your typical children’s bedtime story is it?
And He will be “dressed in a robe dipped in blood” (Revelation 19:13). This is either a reference to His crucifixion, the shedding of His blood to pay the penalty for our sin, or a reference to a prophecy of Isaiah, about the blood of His enemies splattering on His garments.[iii] Either way, the idea is victory.
“And on His head are many crowns” (Revelation 19:12). And “on His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16, NIV). Jesus is superior, supreme, and sovereign. He is the highest king. He is the greatest king. He is the most powerful king. He is the most righteous king. He is the most loving king. He is the King of kings.
The point is to realize that the central character of the real story of the universe is Jesus Christ. And what really matters is what you think about Him. Jesus rose the dead proving to be the Son of God, proving that He is the King of kings, and He is coming back! That’s why we celebrate Him this morning.
KING OF KINGS
The concept of a king doesn’t sit too well with us as Americans. America was founded to escape the tyranny of a monarchy. When George Washington became president, the new government wanted to honor the general who led the victory in the Revolutionary War. It was suggested that Washington be called “His High Mightiness, the President.” But Washington felt it smacked of royalty and insisted that he simply be called “Mr. President.” Americans don’t like royalty. And around the world, there have been plenty of monarchs who became dictators, who were driven by greed and power, and who become oppressive and unjust.
But Jesus is not like that.[iv] Listen to what Jesus is like and why He deserves to be worshiped as the King of kings.
Jesus is the King of kings because He is the Creator of all that is. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17, NIV).
He is the King of kings because He is eternal. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come” (Revelation 1:8, NAS). Therefore we say, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17, NIV).
He is the King of kings because He is sovereign. Jesus sits on His throne overseeing and governing all that happens in the world. “O Lord … you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!” (2 Chronicles 20:6, NLT).[v]
Jesus deserves to be called the King of kings because He is perfect and holy. He deserves to be called the King of kings because He is righteous and just.
Jesus was believed to be the King of kings from the moment of His birth. The wise men heard about the birth of the Jewish Messiah and they traveled a thousand miles to Jerusalem to find him. “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2, NIV).
Jesus is the King of kings because He proved He is the Son of God.[vi] He claimed to be the Son of God, and that’s why the religious leaders wanted to kill Him. But His miracles proved that He was more than a man. “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35, NIV).
Jesus deserves to be called the King of kings because He sacrificed His life for us.[vii] The Bible says that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24, NAS). Jesus did not just take out sins and nail them to the cross. He absorbed our sin, became our sin, and nailed Himself to the cross. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends, and you are My friends” (John 15:13-14, NAS).[viii] That’s why we join all of heaven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).
Jesus proves He is the King of kings because He supernaturally rose from the dead.[ix] What did the angel say to the women that early morning? “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying” (Matthew 28:6, NAS). The tomb is empty. That’s the story of Easter. And when His disciples saw Him alive again, “they worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:17).
Jesus is the King of kings because He offers grace to those who do not deserve it. You can be forgiven of everything you’ve ever done wrong. It’s a gift of His grace.[x] The Bible says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NIV). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12, NIV). And God promises, “I will remember (your sins) no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
Jesus is the King of kings because He is the only way to salvation and eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV). Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). The Bible says, “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12, NAS).
We honor Jesus as the King of kings because of all the blessings He bestows on us. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV). No more guilt. No more shame. He makes us brand new. He blesses us with peace. He comforts us. He strengthens us. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). He walks with us and we enjoy His presence. He fills us with joy. He gives us hope.
That’s why we love Him. That’s why we adore Him and worship Him.
Listen very closely to what the Bible declares. “Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and seated in the place of honor at the right hand of God in heaven. He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
No other king measures up. No king or queen, no czar or caesar, no sheik or chief, no president or prime minister. Not even Queen Elizabeth, who has reigned over Great Britain for 62 years. She reigns over 16 countries. Her official title is – “Her Majesty, Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.” No one can compare to Jesus.
The Bible says, “The nations are like a drop from a bucket, (like) a speck of dust on the scales … All the nations are nothing before Him … He sits above the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers … He who reduces rulers to nothing, and makes the judges of the earth meaningless” (Isaiah 40:15, 17, 22-23).
It doesn’t matter who was president 20 years ago or who was the king of England 200 years ago. But what does matter is what you think about Jesus! Because the Bible says, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12, NIV).
We set aside this special day to honor the one who gave His life for us and who has given us new life and eternal life. As Peter said, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8, NIV).[xi]
Jesus is our God, our Savior, and our King. He is great, He is good, and He is gracious. If you’re a Christian, aren’t you glad you know Him and have a King like that? And if you’re not a Christian at this point in your life, wouldn’t you like to know Him and have a personal relationship with a God like that?
Jesus came from heaven into this world to pay the price for your sin. He died for you. That’s how much He loves you. In spite of who you are or what you’ve done, you can be forgiven of everything you’ve ever done wrong. You can experience peace with God and peace within. You can receive the promise of eternal life, to live forever with Jesus in a place He called Paradise. All you have to do is bow your heart before Jesus and ask Him to forgive you. All you have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin and supernaturally rose the dead proving to be the Son of God.
On Easter, we worship the King of kings. So to quote Peter one more time. “Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Who, in His great mercy, has given us new birth and a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead … Though we have not seen him, we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:3, 8).
[i] We are to endure in our faith, hold on to our convictions, and live in purity and obedience, “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ … who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:14-15).
[ii] Anne Graham Lotz explains the marriage supper of the Lamb. “The bride is every person since the cross, resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ. Who has confessed his or her sin, asked for forgiveness, claimed the blood of Jesus Christ to make atonement for sin, invited Christ into his or her life as Savior and Lord, and is therefore indwelt by the Holy Spirit of the Living God. The bride is you and me!” [Anne Graham Lotz, The Vision of His Glory (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1996, 1997), page 189.]
[iii] Ibid., page 193.
[iv] When Jesus was arrested, the Roman governor Pilate asked Him, “Are you a king?” And Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world, but yes, I am a king. For this I have been born and come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:33-37).
[v] See Daniel 4:35, Acts 17:28.
[vi] See Colossians 2:9.
[vii] See John 1:29.
[viii] The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NAS). At our worst, Jesus died for us.
[ix] Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4, NAS).
[x] See Romans 3:24, Ephesians 1:7.
[xi] “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” (Revelation 19:7, NIV).