Who Is on the Throne?
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Who Is on the Throne?

Selected Scriptures  (ID: 3634)

Who sits on the throne of your life? Is it yourself or your Savior? In this short Christmas concert message, Alistair Begg reminds us that when Jesus stepped down into time, He came to seek and save us from our natural state of sinful rebellion. Through His supernatural birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus offers to sit on the throne of our lives—a true Christmas miracle. Our prayer today can be as the song says: “Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for You.”

Sermon Transcript: Print

You know, something you’ll never hear children say: you’ll never hear children say, “You know, back in the day…” But I’ve noticed—it must be since I’ve reached this particular age—it seems that people keep saying it all the time. It’s not a phrase that I have ever personally been aware of using. But they say it. You know, they say, like, “You know, back in the day, you could get gas for thirty-six cents a gallon—1970! You could get a burger for twenty-five cents in 1975. In 1964, back in the day, the Browns won games!” I mean, that’s “back in the day”!

And people say… I notice it on the golf course as well. You’re playing golf with somebody, and they’re trying to hit an approach shot to a green that’s, you know, 225 yards away. And they do it. Well, they try it. And then they’ll say, “You know, back in the day, I could get there with a five iron.” And I said to the… In fact, this is a quote, really, because I said to the person I was playing with, I said, “There’s no ‘back in the day’ for me. Because back in the day, I was just as bad as I am right now.” In fact, I remember playing in Scotland, and I said to my caddy, I said, “Do you think I can make the green with a three wood?” And he said, “Eventually.” So I kind of get that.

But the idea is that if you go back, it’s really great—you know, just “Back then, it’s great.” Like, right now, what’s it like nationally, internationally? Wars. Disappointments. Lack of security. Fearfulness. “But back in the day…” What? Like back in what day? Back in the Second World War? Back in the Vietnam War? How about we go way back? How about we go to the fourteenth century BC? Any of you remember that one? No. See, back in the day people read books, and you would have known that.

But anyway, it was a complete menace then. In fact, the word on the street was “Everybody did what was right in their own eyes.”[1] It was anarchy. It was like San Francisco on speed, you know. It was chaos. (I say that with great respect to all my friends from San Francisco.) But it was. And so the people said, “The way we’ll fix this is if we can get a king. If we get a king, it’ll be fine.”[2] So they got a king. And guess what? It wasn’t fine. In fact, they had a whole succession of kings. And by the time they were all finished, the spotlight was still scanning the horizon in the hope that “perhaps there will be another king who comes who will actually be able to do all the things that we long for”—maybe a king who could bring peace and righteousness and justice on the earth, a king like that.

And then, all of a sudden, you turn the pages in your Bible, and here you have these wise men from the East. And they have made this amazing journey, following the stars and putting together what’s going on astrologically with what they’d been reading in their books and so on. And they arrive, and they say, “Where is he that is born [the] King of the Jews?”[3]

And, of course, simultaneously, really, Mary had been visited—as we’ve been hearing in these songs—had been visited by an angel who gave her the astounding news that she was going to have a baby, that this baby was going to have a throne, and that he would reign on this throne forever and forever.[4]

Of course, that was all “back in the day.” But of course, we know about this King. He was born in a stable. He was a very nice person and healed people, and people liked to talk to him. People whose lives were upside-down were glad to come to him. Religious people didn’t really like him that much. They actually opposed him. Eventually, the King was put on a cross after he’d been given a crown, but it was a crown of thorns. And then they took him down from that, and they put him in a tomb. But you know, the cross is empty, and the tomb is empty, but his throne is occupied—that he is the ascended Lord and King; that the baby born in a manger is none other than the Word made flesh that dwells among us,[5] as John says; and that the reason that he comes to rule and to reign is to subdue our rebellious hearts.

God loves us so much, despite our rebellion, that he has come to seek us and to save us.

You see, people think that if we just could put some more bits and pieces together of our world, all would be well. Well, it would be well, except that we’re people. And as a result of that, we’re selfish. We like the idea of being entirely in control of our whole operation.

Maybe you think that’s a little severe. Let me put a picture up for us here. It’s a circle. It’s a circle that will be up. There it is. Now let me interpret the circle for you. It’s a throne. On the throne is S for self, and outside the circle, the circle representing a life, is Jesus.

This is a picture of life as natural human beings. We do not love God (we were made to love him). We do not serve God (we were made to serve him). We’re actually rebels against God. And yet God loves us so much, despite our rebellion, that he has come to seek us and to save us. He’s stepped down into our neighborhood to make himself known, and then he has stepped up onto that cross in order that he might bear our punishment. Now, there’s the picture: self on the throne, Jesus outside of the circle.

Second picture: Jesus on the throne; self is inside the circle. Because when Jesus comes to sit on the throne of my heart, he doesn’t obliterate me; he doesn’t obliterate you. He made you the way you are, with all your background, with all your gifts, with all your failings, with everything there. And he comes in order to take control.

Now, because I’m a rebel, I don’t want anyone taking control. I want to decide what I decide about everything.

Now, let’s put the two circles up together, if we can, and let me ask you a question: Which circle—you don’t answer out loud (it’d be embarrassing, maybe)—which circle would you say represents your life: Jesus on the throne or self on the throne?

Second question: Which circle would you like to represent your life? Do you want to run your own life? Sartre said, “That God does not exist I cannot deny,” and then he adds, “That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.” “I don’t believe he exists, and yet there is a longing inside of me that only God can fill.”

Ladies and gentlemen, young people, the reason for the entire concert is that God has stepped down in order to make us all that he desires for us to be. And the invitation that he extends to us is straightforward.

There may be some of you here tonight, and even as I speak to you, you’re wiggling a little bit in your seat, and you’ve actually started to employ my opening phrase. ’Cause in your mind you’re saying, “You know, back in the day… Back in the day, I believed this. Back in the day…” Now it’s your children and your grandchildren that are encouraging you to come. They don’t know about your “back in the day.” Others, of course, have no “back in the day.” But if this were to be the day when the enthronement took place—when, unbeknown to anybody around you, in your heart of hearts, you were prepared to say, “I want to submit to you as my Lord; I want to rely on you as my Savior”—then who knows but thirty years out from now, you’ll be at a Christmas concert, and you’ll say to somebody, “You know, back in the day… Back in the day, there was a Scottish guy. I remember he had two circles, and he ticked me off, ’cause he said that I was on my own throne. But you know what? I was. And that’s the best news I ever heard. Because on that evening, I said then what I invite you to say now: ‘Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for you.’”[6]

[1] Judges 21:25 (paraphrased).

[2] 1 Samuel 8:5 (paraphrased).

[3] Matthew 2:2 (KJV).

[4] See Luke 1:26–33.

[5] See John 1:14.

[6] Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott, “There Is Room in My Heart for Thee” (1864). Language modernized.

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.