The Present Kingdom — Part Two
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player

The Present Kingdom — Part Two

John 2:12–22  (ID: 2394)

Where can we go to meet God? Many insist that He can only be found in particular places, like a church, a temple, or even in nature. The Bible, though, tells us that we encounter God not in a place but in the person of Jesus Christ. In this message, Alistair Begg explains that Jesus is the true temple through which God’s presence, rule, and blessing are mediated to us. Through the incarnate Christ, we come to know God Himself.

Series Containing This Sermon

The Kingdom of God, Volume 2

Matthew 1:1 – Revelation 22:21 Series ID: 26802

Sermon Transcript: Print

Father, we pray that as we study the Bible together that we might hear your voice. We desperately need to be thinking properly as well as feeling deeply. Many of us want to feel before we think, and constantly the challenge is to turn things the other way around—which is really the right way around—so that as we begin to understand truth, so our hearts are stirred and our wills are brought into line with your Word. And we pray to this end that you will help us now in these moments, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Now, we read from John chapter 2—you can turn there if you like; we’ll be referencing that. I want to repeat what is probably a fictitious story—I’m virtually sure it is—that came out of England, as we continue in our sustained attempt to understand the big picture of the Bible. A local policeman, who was also a Christian, was invited to take the religious education class in an elementary school in suburban London. And once he had the attention of the group, he looked out on the class, and he began by asking an Old Testament question. He asked the class, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” And they all looked back at him with blank stares, and after a fairly long and nervous silence, one wee boy put up his hand, and he said, “My name is Bruce Jones. I don’t know who did it, but I didn’t do it.” The policeman thought that his reply was rude, and so he reported the incident to the headmaster. After a pause, in the headmaster’s study, the headmaster said to the policeman, “Listen, I know Bruce Jones; he’s an honest boy. If he said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it.” And the policeman, exasperated, thinking the headmaster just as rude as Bruce, or perhaps totally ignorant, wrote to the Department of Education regarding the incident and received this response: “Dear Sir, we’re sorry to hear about the walls of Jericho and that nobody has admitted causing the damage. If you send us an estimate, we’ll see what we can do about the cost.”

Now, that simply highlights a problem which is a very real problem—namely, the problem of biblical illiteracy. Biblical illiteracy: that people do not know their Bibles. In an earlier generation, the average thirteen-year-old or fourteen-year-old—certainly, in Scotland—would have a far greater grasp of the biblical parameters of truth than the average graduate from an American seminary today. If you think that is outlandish, you need only to check with the faculty in any seminary or Bible college, and they will tell you that with every successive year, the level of biblical knowledge of those attempting to gain entry to their institutions declines at an exponential rate—the staggering impact of people talking a lot about things and knowing very little about what they’re referencing. 

For example, many of us would be able to answer the first question in the Shorter Catechism concerning “the chief end of man”; and we would say very quickly that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Most of us would be completely unfamiliar with the second question and certainly its answer: the second question asking, “What rule has God given to us to direct us as to how we may glorify and enjoy him?” And the answer to that question, of course, is “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.”[1] So, we go out into our world and we say that our view of the world starts with God as a Creator: he has made us, he has established his parameters for us in the law, he has provided a Savior for us in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the reason for our existence is to know him and enjoy him.

The Bible is not a ragbag of bits and pieces of philosophical information and spiritual tidbits. It actually is the unfolding drama of God’s intervention in our world.

And if our friends ask us, “Then how do you know whether you’re knowing him, glorifying, and enjoying him?” and we reply, “Well, the only way we can know that is in the Bible.” And then they ask, “Well, tell me the story of the Bible,” and at about that point, we begin to falter and stumble. And it’s for that reason, and that supreme reason, that we have set out on this sustained journey to try and at least get our minds around the big picture of the Bible. I can’t speak for any of you, but I am better equipped this morning than I was three or four months ago in this endeavor; I personally am. Without any doubt, I’m learning from my own teaching about how to stand far enough back from the Bible and take the broad sweep of redemptive history and make clear to people that this actually is a cohesive whole; that it’s not a ragbag of bits and pieces of philosophical information and spiritual tidbits, but it actually is the unfolding drama of God’s intervention in our world.   

And we’ve been discovering that this kingdom of God—God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing[2]—provides us with a very useful way of opening, as it were, our door of entry into this story of the Bible. And we reached last time the question of the present kingdom: we’ve seen the kingdom, we’ve seen how it is spoiled, we’ve seen how it is partially fulfilled in the nation of Israel, we’ve seen how it is prophesied and so on, and we began last time to look at how it is present among us. We began that last Sunday evening. Some of your eyes got big like saucers when we discovered the fact that the New Testament never leads us to expect that there will be any fulfillment of Old Testament promises in the New Testament other than those which find their fulfillment in Jesus. And the eyes got even wider when we made the statement “The New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament is not ‘literal,’ but it is, rather, ‘Christological.’”[3] For some, to say that something isn’t literal immediately sends shivers up their spine, and they go running out of the door shouting, “Heresy! Heresy! Heresy!” That is just because they’re not thinking. The New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament is not, if you like, literal, but it is Christological.

So, we began unlocking the key. What, then, does it say in the Old Testament concerning God’s people and how would Jesus fulfill that? And we saw that Jesus is the true Adam and that Jesus is the true Israel. I can’t go back over it for those of you who missed it, but we come now, secondly, to consider how the promises concerning God’s place are fulfilled in Jesus. Now, what we know from our study already is that in the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s presence in the garden before the fall—in all of the pristine beauty of God’s creation, the world as God had made it and the world as man was experiencing it before the fall. Subsequent to the fall, the world as we know it is not the world as God made it, but is a world as spoiled by man’s rebellion. Nevertheless, in the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s presence.

The Israelites also enjoyed God’s presence among them as God came to meet with them in two express locations, or by means of two mechanisms, if you like. One, as we have seen, was in the tabernacle—the strange word that we found in the tent of meeting, in a diagram that we had on the screen some weeks ago now—and the other perhaps more easy to grapple with, is the notion of God meeting with his people in the temple. So when you read the Old Testament, you have this focus of God’s place being the tabernacle and then God’s place being the temple.

Christ, the True Tabernacle and the True Temple

Well then, we would expect in the reading of the New Testament that this would be clarified. And, of course, it is. What we discover is that Jesus is the true tabernacle—Jesus is the true tabernacle. Now, turn for a moment to the second book of the Bible, to Exodus chapter 25, and let me just get you started on this and show you exactly what we’re dealing with. Exodus—God is giving instructions concerning his dealings with his people through his servant, Moses; he’s giving them instructions regarding the various offerings they’re to make. And then in Exodus 25:8, he says to Moses, “Now what I want you to do now is have them make a sanctuary for me”: “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”[4] And then into chapter 26 and so on, and eventually, if you just turn forward to the end of Exodus, in Exodus chapter 40—Exodus 40:33: “Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and [he] put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.” And then we’re told, “So Moses finished the work. [And] then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. [And] Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”[5]

Now, notice this: God puts his tent among his people, but the tent is not open to them. The cloud had settled upon it, the glory had filled the tabernacle, and even Moses himself could not enter that which had been constructed. “There was going to come a day,” the prophet said, “when all of this would find its ultimate fulfillment.” Now, you flip forward, back to John’s Gospel and to chapter 1 and to verses with which we’re very familiar, John 1:14–15—we often reference them at Christmastime if not at other times—but in John 1:14, John makes this dramatic statement: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

In the same way that the people of old have looked in to the tabernacle for an encounter with God, ‘now,’ says John, ‘the Word has become flesh and made his dwelling among us.’

The phraseology there is that God, then, in Jesus “tabernacled” among his people. In the same way that the people of old have looked in to the tabernacle for an encounter with God, “now,” says John, “the Word has become flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  God is here among us. Now, notice, “We have seen his glory”—remember Exodus 40, the glory descended on the tent; nobody could enter—“we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”[6]

Now, let’s advance the ball further up the field by noticing that Jesus is not only the true tabernacle, but he is also the true temple. If your Bible is still open at John 2:19, Jesus has come, remember, into Jerusalem, and he has cleansed the temple. He’s exercised jurisdiction over the events that are taking place there. “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market,”[7] remember he says. That was not something that the Pharisees and religious authorities responded well to. The disciples remembered the Old Testament statement “Zeal for your house will consume me,”[8] but the Jews actually came to him—verse 18—and said, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” “Jesus, you think you can just come walking into Jerusalem—you’re the son of a carpenter from Galilee; we know that you’ve been saying some interesting things, we heard that there was a drama that took place at a recent wedding in Cana—but do you think you can just show up in Jerusalem and start ordering everybody around? You better have some pretty strong credentials. You better have some miraculous signs that you can implement to show that you have authority to do this.”

 Verse 19: I wish I could have been there to see their eyes when Jesus said, “Well, okay, let me do something for you. In fact, why don’t you do something? Destroy this temple—that’s your part—and I will raise it again in three days.” Now remember, all the focus is on the temple: it’s all temple. The Jew is consumed with the place of meeting in the temple. The temple represents the place that they meet with God and all of God that may be encountered.  

And so, the Jews reply literally, “[It’s taken us] forty-six years to build [the] temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?”[9] And then John says, “But [of course,] the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead,” he’s honest enough to admit—he’s not suggesting that the disciples understood it then, but after he was raised from the dead, hence the significance of Scott’s prayer—“after he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. [And] then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”[10] It was when they realized that Jesus had fulfilled all the promises of God, that the commendation of God rested upon him, that the Father had accepted his sacrifice for sin, that he was alive from the dead, that suddenly the lights went on, and they said, “Oh! We get it now. That’s the temple thing—that’s the temple thing. He said, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’” They were thinking temple; he’s thinking his body. We were actually thinking temple too, if we’re honest, but now the penny has dropped.

Now, the implications of this are absolutely clear. What Jesus is saying is that the temple in Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. And therefore, to meet with God, you’re not going to go to a building at all. You’re going to go to Jesus. If you want to meet God, you meet Jesus. That’s as simply as we can put it.

If you turn forward another couple of pages to the wonderful encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4—without going back into the details of it—remember, he puts his finger upon the spiritual problem in her life. She’s had a real problem with relationships: she’s had five husbands, she now has a live-in lover, and Jesus has confronted her with this. In response, the woman immediately starts to think in terms of sacrifices. She immediately starts to think in terms of God. “Oh well, this man is shown that he’s a prophet, obviously; he’s put his finger on my life. How could he ever know that I have a live-in lover and I’ve had five husbands and my life is a moral shambles? And so she says to him, “Where do you think we ought to go and worship? Should we go up to Garasene where the Samaritans—where my people—say, or do you think Jerusalem is really the best place to go?”[11] And of course, what did Jesus say? He said, “Well, actually, the time is coming when you’ll worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”[12] That’s revolutionary. It’s revolutionary not only for the Samaritan woman, but it’s revolutionary for the Jew. “Oh no, Jerusalem’s it.” “No, it’s not,” says Jesus. “You Samaritans have enthusiasm without knowledge. You worship what you don’t know, and some of your worship is really fantastic. The Jews have knowledge without enthusiasm. They know what they ought to know, but their worship’s rotten.” And the “time is coming and has now come”—verse 23—“when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and [in] truth, for [they’re] the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. [And] God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Now, let me just make a tangential point of application here. For some of you who come around Parkside Church and always say, “Well, there’s nothing in this place. I mean, there’s no icons here, there’s nothing, there’s no bells, there’s no smells, there’s not even a cross. There’s nothing in here—what is this place? We thought it was a church.” Oh, you thought this room was a church? You thought this building was a church? Man, have you been misled. No, the church meets in here, but this building is not the church. And whether we meet in here or whether we meet in the grass behind or whether we meet in the park beyond the grass or whether we meet in the VFW or whether we meet anywhere, the church is the company of those whom God has redeemed in Jesus. And that’s why I would put on the sign out there, if I had my own way (which clearly I don’t, but that’s fine ’cause I don’t want it), but I would—not in this instance—but I would put on the sign out there (my colleagues thought it was a daft idea, and I bowed to their wisdom), I would put on the sign out there, “Parkside Church meets here”—“Parkside Church meets here,” for this very reason.

God meets with his people not in places but in the person of his Son.

Now, prepare to get your eyes a little wider. The New Testament not only rejects images in worship, but it also rejects the concept of sanctuary or the holy place—rejects the concept of sanctuary or the holy place. So, for those of you who said to your children, “Come on now, we’re going into the sanctuary, you better be quiet”—you’re wrong. They should be quiet, but not because you’re going into a sanctuary. They should be quiet because we’re now going to use our hearts and our minds and our voices in order to give glory to the living God, because after all, what was the chief end of man? “To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” “What is necessary in order that we might glorify and enjoy him?” Icons? Statues? Crosses? Shrines? “What is necessary that we might know how to glorify and enjoy him?” “The Bible is the only rule whereby we may know how to glorify and enjoy him.”[13] So, what do we need? We need a place where the Bible is proclaimed. We need a place where it’s not dripping through the ceiling. We need a room large enough for the congregation to gather. But God meets with his people not in places but in the person of his Son.  

Jesus is the true temple. We are gathering together unto him. It is to him that the gathering of the people will be, and anything that distracts or diverts—no matter how good it may be—anything that distracts and diverts from the very clear understanding that we are gathering together to Christ, a Christ who is omniscient, a Christ who is omnipresent, a Christ who is as realistically with me in the bathroom before I walk in here as he is in this moment when I sing his praise. Therefore, I never want to do anything to suggest to the people of God the localized presence of Christ, either at the foot of a cross or a statue or an icon or any other thing. And I believe that the Scriptures lead us to that conclusion.

’Course, you’re sensible people, and you need to do what you need to do. And in saying this, may I hasten to add that I am not seeking in any sense to be dismissive of my brothers and sisters in Christ who operate on a different principle. One day in heaven we’ll find out who’s right. For the time being, we will rejoice in the different ways in which people go about what they do. But every family must organize itself according to its own understanding. And in these issues, the Scriptures seem to me to be clear.

Now, I could give you an exhaustive underpinning of this—I won’t. I’m going to give you three Scripture references; I’ll tell you what they are. If you want to make a note of them, do the study on your own. Isaiah 8:14: Isaiah, looking forward, says of God, “He will be a sanctuary.” “He will be a sanctuary.” Ezekiel 11:16: God says, “I have been a sanctuary for them.” And at the very end of the Bible in Revelation 21:22, interestingly, John, looking into a realm that he cannot fully grapple with, says, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Why? Because Jesus is the true temple.

Now, my friends, let me just make another point of application here. Do you see how this answers the question, How and where can a person meet God? And that may be a question that you have. You’re saying to yourself, “Well, I went to this place because I thought that I could meet God there.” Well, you may, but it’s not because of the nature of the place. How can I meet God? Where can I meet God? During the week in the New York Times, there was an article concerning Madonna’s latest venture into the world of touring. And it was pointing out the fact that she has, in reinventing herself again—she’s now 46 years old. Interestingly, just parenthetically, since she married this Scotsman, there seems to be at least a modicum of sense creeping into her existence. Now she’s writing books about being a mom. Now she’s interested in finding out who God is and where he is. It’s very interesting. Do you pray for these people, or do you just get up on your hind legs and condemn them? And as she ventures into kabbalah—this middle-aged mixture of Judaism and mysticism—in a quest for something, she, in answering Larry King’s question, “Why in the world are you even doing this?” responded as follows. Listen: “I was looking for something…. I’d begun practicing yoga and … I was looking for the answers to life. Why am I here? What am I doing here? What is my purpose? How do I fit into the big picture? I know there’s more to life than making lots of money and being successful and even getting married and having a family.”[14]

Now, she’s not alone—she’s not alone. And some who are present as I speak to you now this morning, you are exactly where she is. “Where,” you’re saying to yourself, “do I fit into the big picture?” “Here I am, a teenager, a youngster about to become a man, and I don’t know why I was born.” “Here I am, a fairly successful businessman, and I haven’t settled the question of where God is or who God is or what in the world he is.” So what we’re dealing with is not some kind of arm’s length theology. But the answer that comes to us so clearly in this is that while men and women are looking for something, their great need is for someone. And that someone is none other than God himself, making himself finally and fully and savingly known in the person of the Lord Jesus.

Christ, the Living Water

Now, we must move on, but in John chapter 7—as you continue your homework through John’s Gospel—in John chapter 7, on the last day of the feast, we have Jesus crying with a loud voice. And he cries out, “If [anyone’s] thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the [Scriptures have] said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”[15] An interesting picture, isn’t it? You say to yourself, “I wonder if Jesus had anything in mind at all when he uses this metaphor, as he uses this picture: ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink and from me will flow rivers of living water, and then from him in turn.’”

Well, we’re going to have to wait till heaven, but we’re going to inquire and ask on that occasion whether Jesus had Ezekiel 47 in his mind. Because when you go back to Ezekiel 47— don’t do it now—when you go back to Ezekiel 47, here is the vision of Ezekiel:

The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from [underneath] the threshold of the temple toward the east…. The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside [of] the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side…. [And it] was ankle-deep. [And he led me through] another thousand cubits … [and it] was knee-deep. [And] he measured off another thousand [cubits] and led me through the water that was up to the waist. And he measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I [couldn’t] cross…. [And] then he led me back to the bank of the river. [And] when I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees.[16]

And the water flowed, and the vegetation flowed. It’s this amazing picture.

You know, you’re reading your Bible in the morning. You’ve just finished your Corn Flakes, and in the read‑through‑the‑Bible, you’re in Ezekiel 47 and you read this and you say, “What has this got to do with the twenty-first century? You know, I’ve got to go to work.” When the water was coming out of the temple and it was ankle-deep and knee-deep and waist-deep and swimming-deep and every kind of deep—well, remember you gotta read your Bible backwards. You get to John chapter 7: “If anybody’s thirsty, let him come to me; I’m the true temple.” And some of you will remember that the water in Ezekiel’s vision gushed from the temple and gave life to everything that it came in contact with. “I am the living water. My spirit will give life to those who are spiritually thirsty. You may come to me and live.” What a dramatic statement! Who does this carpenter of Nazareth think he is? Jesus, as this wonderful, wonderful fulfillment of the temple.

Christ, the True King

On the cross, Jesus dies to take the penalty that sinners deserve so that sinners who do not deserve his mercy and grace may enjoy the blessings of forgiveness.

Now, just a word or two on how he fulfills God’s rule and blessing, ’cause our time is almost gone. First of all, by understanding that Jesus introduces the new covenant. We know this from the communion service, don’t we? We say it all the time: “And this blood is the new covenant in my blood,” says Jesus, “for the forgiveness of sins.”[17] We’ll come to this again this evening and make sure we understand it, but just a brief overview: On the cross, Jesus dies to take the penalty that sinners deserve so that sinners who do not deserve his mercy and grace may enjoy the blessings of forgiveness.  Jesus lives a perfect life in keeping the law for us. Jesus dies our death for us, aptly summarized in 2 Corinthians 5:21: that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” What does this mean? It means that if a man or a woman has trusted in Jesus, then they may be sure that Jesus has taken their sin and its judgment, and that he has given to us all of his righteousness. He has, if you like, wrapped us up in the blanket of his forgiveness, wrapped us up in the provision of his Son.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s rule and blessing, not only in that he introduces the new covenant, but also insofar as he is the new King—he is the new King. The prophets were clear: there was going to come a King who would be a descendant of David, and he would fulfill everything. And remember, we got to the book of Malachi, and we looked over the great divide—the four hundred years or so from Malachi into Matthew—and the people that died and another generation had arisen and died, and arisen and died, and so on throughout the generations. And still the promise of the prophet was in the minds of those who were reading their Bibles: There’s going to be a King who comes, and he will establish God’s rule. He’ll introduce a new age. He will deal with the effects of evil. That’s the significance of your reading this morning in Luke chapter 11—now, those of you who are going through the New Testament in a year. And its parallel is in Matthew chapter 12, and since it’s quicker to get to Matthew than Luke, turn to Matthew and let me just point this out to you.

Matthew 12:22—here’s a thumbnail study for us—verse 22: “They brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.” Matthew tells us that “the people were astonished,” and so they said to one another, “Could this be the Son of David?”[18] See, they were thinking. They said, “You know, the prophets have told us that there is a king who will come who will be a descendant of David, and he will be greater than our father David, and he will interfere with this world as we know it, and he will reverse the effects of the fall.” So, the people inquired, “Could that be the Son of David?” But the Pharisees jump on this. “Are you kidding?” they said (my paraphrase). “[It’s] only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”[19] And so Jesus, in verse 26, points out the logical contradiction in their explanation. He says, “Why would Satan drive out Satan?” That doesn’t make sense. But look at verse 28: “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

All that Jesus does in establishing his power and his transcendence over the affairs of time is in itself pointing forward eventually to a new heaven and to a new earth.

You see, that’s the significance of the miracles: that they are signs pointing to the reality of who Jesus is. And all that Jesus does in establishing his power and his transcendence over the affairs of time is in itself pointing forward eventually to a new heaven and to a new earth . The kingdom is present because the King is present. He may not look much like a king hanging up on a cross, but actually, that’s his moment of greatest victory. And when he strides out from the tomb, the resurrection proclaims him not simply the son of David, but also the Son of God.

So, notice, finally, that Jesus fulfills God’s rule and blessing, not only by his introduction of the new covenant, not only on account of the fact that he is the King, but also because he is the source of God’s blessing. Paul understood this—2 Corinthians 5, remember—he said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old [is] gone, [and] the new has come.”[20] Jesus issues such a wonderful invitation in Matthew 11 that’s recorded for us when he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”[21]—“rest for your souls.”

You know, I’d love to have the opportunity to address those questions with the erstwhile “Material Girl”—now the “spiritual girl”—and everyone who’s part of her group. See, the message is really clear, isn’t it? It’s not “come to a building,” it’s not “see our church,” it’s not “meet our pastor”—it’s none of the jazz that we routinely are preoccupied with. The message is wonderful: it’s “God has made himself known to us in the person of Jesus.” The Old Testament prophecies find their fulfillment in Jesus, in this present King who may be known.

What do kings do? They rule and they reign. Where does King Jesus rule and reign? At the right hand of the Father, and in the hearts of those who trust him.

What do kings do? They rule and they reign. Where does King Jesus rule and reign? Well, he rules and reigns at the right hand of the Father just now. There is not one political event that has taken place, not one ecological event that has taken place, not one disaster, that is beyond both his knowledge and his influence. But he also reigns in the hearts of those who trust him.  

And so, the real question, then, is whether Jesus Christ is your King and my King, whether he reigns and rules in my heart. Does he? And if so, then let us get out and be about the business of letting the whole world know. And if not, then why not today? Give up the arms of your rebellion, bow your knee to the Lord Jesus, admit that he is who he claimed to be, admit that he is the very Savior that you so desperately need, and ask him to come and be your King and reign on the throne of your life. That’s as simply as I can put it.

Let’s pray together:

God, our Father, we pray, then, that you will help us not only to feel deeply about these things but to think clearly concerning them. We ask you to forgive us for paying so little attention to your Word, for knowing a lot less of the Bible than the Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently do, for being pretty poor at being able to respond to the questions that come our way from those who have a keen interest in spiritual things. We want to use this morning as a launching pad. We’re saying to you that we are determined to get to grips with this: we want to understand this picture, we want to know our Bibles better, we want to love Christ, and we want to tell others about him.

And others of us who have been thinking that we would meet God somewhere have come face-to-face with the fact that you keep all of your appointments, God, at the cross: that you’ve made yourself known in your Son, the King, and that you’re adding subjects to your kingdom as they come in repentance and in faith. And as best we know how, we come to you today, turning from all we know to be wrong and seeking to trust solely and securely in the sacrifice of Jesus.

May the love of Jesus draw us to him. May the joy of Jesus fill our lives as we seek to tell others about him. May the truth of Jesus fill our minds, and may grace and mercy and peace from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one today and forevermore. Amen.

[1] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 2.

[2] Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament (Exeter, UK: The Paternoster Press, 1981), 47. Paraphrased.

[3] Ibid., 91. Paraphrased.

[4] Exodus 25:8–9 (NIV 1984).

[5] Exodus 40:33–34 (NIV 1984).

[6] John 1:14 (NIV 1984).

[7] John 2:16 (NIV 1984).

[8] John 2:17 (NIV 1984).

[9] John 2:20 (NIV 1984).

[10] John 2:21–22 (NIV 1984).

[11] John 4:20 (paraphrased).

[12] John 4:21 (paraphrased).

[13] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Qs. 1 and 2. Paraphrased.

[14] Madonna, interview by Larry King, Larry King Live, CNN, January 19, 1999.

[15] John 7:37–38 (NIV 1984).

[16] Ezekiel 47:1–7 (NIV 1984).

[17] Luke 22:20 (paraphrased).

[18] Matthew 12:23 (NIV 1984).

[19] Matthew 12:24 (NIV 1984).

[20] 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984).

[21] Matthew 11:28–29 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.