At Christmas time, a favorite carol we sing is “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” The chorus invites us – like the angels invited the shepherds long ago – to come and worship Christ, the newborn king. Jesus Christ, the baby sleeping in the manger, had been born a king.
Mary understood this. Most of the people of Israel did not.
When the angel Gabriel gave Mary the news that she was to give birth to the Promised One, he also told her of His kingdom. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
Jesus was born a king. His genealogy could be traced back to King David and the promise of God. Israel should have recognized Him as their king—as the promised one from the lineage of David. Instead they rejected Him as their king and His truth as their salvation.
Angels proclaimed Him a king at His birth. He would proclaim Himself a king at His death.
The Israelites sought to have the Romans kill Him. They brought Him to the Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate, trying to determine what threat this Jesus was to Rome, asks Jesus, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)
Jesus could have simply answered yes. But Pilate’s question begged a different answer. Jesus was not the political king that Pilate feared. What sort of king was He? Jesus answers, “…My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:37). Regardless of what Pilate would determine His fate to be that day, Jesus’ kingdom would not be affected. He had not been put in power by men, and men could not take His kingdom from Him.
Continuing to answer Pilate, Jesus explains, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
A king without an army didn’t sound like much of a threat to Rome. So Pilate asks again. “…Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37).
When Pilate heard these words, he should have known this wasn’t just any man. Jesus knew He came as king. A newborn baby comes from his mother’s womb to the outside world when he is born. But Jesus came in a different way. He existed from eternity past in heaven. Then He came—He stepped into our world to rule as king.
How does He rule today? He told Pilate how when He said, “…that I should bear witness unto the truth.” Jesus rules by proclaiming His direct knowledge of the truth of heaven, the way of salvation. He knows truth because He is Truth. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
He rules today when people see the difference between truth and error, and choose the side of truth. He said, “Everyone that is of truth heareth my voice.” He rules when people hear and obey His word.
Pilate then asks Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Perhaps Pilate did not care to know. Maybe Pilate thought it impossible to know truth for sure. Humanly, it is impossible. But God has made it possible to know the truth through Jesus Christ.
One day He will rule the world in peace from the land of Israel, but is He ruling your heart with truth today? Come and worship Christ the newborn king.
Stephen Howard is Pastor at Morrow Bible Church.