“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 ESV).
When Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, He sat on a throne. He came to earth in the humblest way imaginable—lowly in a manger, as a fragile baby. But that baby in that stable in Bethlehem was born King of the Jews, or more specifically, King of the people of God.
He did not come as the people expected—as One who would conquer and rule the nations. His purpose was to restore humanity’s broken relationship with God. And He has. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and He will never hand it over to another. He conquers us, protects us, and keeps us. To submit to His rule over us as our King is an act of worship.
In this section, we will look at what a king does: he fights battles, represents his people before God, and humbly serves his subjects. And we will see how Christ came as the perfect King and remains our perfect King today, calling us to share in His holy work of serving others who bear the image of God.
A king fights battles. In the Old Testament, this often meant the king chose which battles to fight. He needed to be both brave and discerning, knowing the battles he chose would be fought by the people he led. A selfish, foolish king would be dreaded by his subjects, but a humble, wise king could lead his people to the freedom and peace their hearts longed for.
Because of sin, Lord Acton was correct: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” History bears this out. Personal experience bears this out. Even in a democracy like the United States, with its “checks and balances,” it’s inescapable. We know that earthly power is never perfect.
And yet, we too often trust earthly power. We often forget that “the Lord is the strength of His people” (Deuteronomy 10:17). Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we’re still trading peace with the King for a piece of rotting fruit.
The Israelites were no different than us. In 1 Samuel 8, Israel wanted to install a king to make them like other nations. Despite God’s warnings, they were adamant — “enough with this judge stuff; give us a king!” So God gave them their hearts’ desire in King Saul. And Israel’s line of kings was no all-star lineup. It was hit-or-miss on whether or not their next king would be anywhere close to David, “a man after God’s own heart.” But as we know, even David failed.
Who rules over us matters, because our rulers often choose which battles we fight. Old Testament kings did this. They chose battles—and not always well. For this task, a king needs wisdom and strength.
We’re often looking to imperfect people to lead us perfectly. Our kings never fulfill us. And like Israel, we routinely fail to look to the King we already have. Psalm 24 proclaims, “The earth and everything in it … belongs to the LORD; for he laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.” This King really is the King of kings, because all other kings have palaces on his turf. After all, “A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses” (Proverbs 21:1).
The King of the universe – Jesus Christ – is perfect, wise, and strong. He is just, loving, merciful, and full of grace. He doesn’t barter with lesser kings; He can’t be bribed. He is not corruptible. He doesn’t just do good; He is good. Though we live in constant revolt, lobbing grenades at His doorstep, He loves and leads. He doesn’t smite us. He doesn’t send us into exile. He still welcomes us to His table. We still can approach His throne boldly (Hebrews 4:16).
The battle our King fights is for our own hearts.
Yes, the world is a mess. Sin grows out of every nook and cranny of creation, like a weed in a once beautiful garden. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Lord Acton was correct—power corrupts. Even the best kings are at times prideful and selfish and glory hungry. But we have a King who is humble, yet strong, self-giving but all-powerful, crucified and yet victorious.
He’s the King we need because He is the king we can never be, never find, and never elect. Our search was over before it began. He is the King we’re longing for, and the King we already have.
Written By Brandon D. Smith