Christ the King Sunday
November 25, 2018
Our King Is Coming Back!
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
When my family and I lived in Seattle one of our favorite day trips was to drive to Mount Rainier. There is an observation point on Mount Rainier that is called— Paradise! For the most part Paradise is your typical tourist trap: overpriced food and cheaply-made souvenirs. The positive point about Paradise is the observation deck. From the observation deck you can see an unobstructed view of Mount Rainier— a view which is nothing short of majestic. On the observation deck are also those high-powered binoculars, the kind that are on pedestals. When you look at Mount Rainier through one of those high-powered binoculars it is amazing how much detail you can see. All of a sudden you are able to see snow cliffs and rock valleys and tiny little hikers trying to make their way to the summit. My problem with those high-powered binoculars was trying to find a specific detail whether it be a landmark on the mountain or a specific group of hikers. I always had to step back, point the binoculars in the general direction of what I wanted to see and then look through the binoculars to find whatever it was I was looking for.
The Scriptures very often remind me of the observation deck at Paradise. There is no question that God’s Word gives us an amazing panoramic view of the history of this world all the way from the time of its creation to the time of its destruction. There are even times when God’s Word gives us an opportunity to look through a set of spiritual high-powered binoculars and see certain key events of the history of this world in glorious detail— events such as the birth of our Savior, the death of our Savior and the physical resurrection of our Savior.
Our text for today, my friends, focuses our attention on just such an event. And when we look at these specific verses of our text in the overall context of the rest of Scripture the details which our God gives to us concerning this event are astounding! The event which we are privileged to view on this Christ the King Sunday is summed up in the statement we will use as our sermon theme for today. That statement is: Our King Is Coming Back! There are two main points that I hope you take home with you from this text. The first point centers on the identity of our King. The second point centers on the activity of our King.
In order to fully appreciate our text for today we need to see what leads up to these two verses that we have before us today. Daniel chapter seven contains Daniel’s vision of four beasts. These four beasts represent four powerful empires that would rule the earth. In Daniel 7:4 the first beast is described as being “like a lion” with “the wings of an eagle.” This beast represents the Babylonian Empire which ruled at the time of Daniel. In verse five Daniel saw a beast which looked “like a bear” which had “three ribs in its mouth between its teeth.” This beast represents the empire of the Medes and Persians. In verse six Daniel saw a beast that looked “like a leopard.” This beast had “four wings” and “four heads.” This beast represents the Greek Empire. The fourth, final and fiercest beast is described in verse seven as being “terrifying and frightening and very powerful.” It had “large iron teeth” which it used to “crush and devour and trample” its victims. This beast represents the mighty Roman Empire which ruled at the time of Christ.
As the vision continues Daniel then sees the “Ancient of Days”— a reference to the one and only eternal God. In Daniel 7:9 & 10 we are given a description of the Ancient of Days. Daniel tells us, “His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books we opened.” The “Ancient of Days” is the ultimate Ruler of heaven and earth. He is the One who rules long before and long after the empires, all the kingdoms and all the nations on this earth.
That brings us to our text for today, Daniel 7:13-14. In sharp contrast to the four “beasts” which represent four earthly kingdoms, Daniel now sees someone who is “like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” In the light of the rest of Scripture there can be no question who this Person is! Daniel was given the privilege of looking through the high-powered spiritual binoculars that only God can provide and seeing our Jesus returning to this earth as the King! How can we say that with such confidence? All we have to do is look at our text in the light of what the New Testament reveals to us.
While He was on this earth the term “Son of Man” was Jesus’ all-time favorite name for Himself. (See Matthew 16:27; 25:31; Mark 10:45; Luke 17:24; John 1:51; 3:13) Shortly before Stephen became the first Christian martyr we are told “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). In the book of Revelation the apostle John was given a vision of heaven where he saw someone “like a son of man” (Revelation 1:13). This Person identifies Himself to John by saying, “I am the First and the Last. I am the living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” (Revelation 1:17-18) And in the Gospels Jesus Himself promises/reveals to us that one day people will see “The Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26). No, my friends, there is no question whatsoever concerning the identity of the Person Daniel saw here in his vision. It is none other than Jesus— our Lord and our King!
Why is it important for us to know all of this? I think it is important for a number of reasons. We will look at just three of those reasons today— each of which focuses on the activity of our King. The first reason centers on the personal lives of God’s children. At the time Daniel was given this vision he was a prisoner of the Babylonian Empire. The armies of Babylon had conquered the nation of Judah and completely destroyed both the Temple of the Lord as well as the beloved City of Jerusalem. From a purely human perspective things looked rather bleak for Daniel as well as for the Chosen People of God. This vision assured Daniel that the Lord his God is always in control! Even though Babylon had been allowed to conquer Jerusalem, even though the Babylonians would one day be conquered by the Medes and the Persians who would one day be conquered by the Greeks who would one day be conquered by the Romans, the Lord’s Promised Messiah, the Son of Man, has always been and will always be the King of kings!
Now ask yourself: Have there ever been days when you needed to be reminded that Jesus, your King, is always in control? Perhaps your personal life is a mess. Perhaps things at work have you feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps Satan seems to be infecting your family with chaos and conflict. Perhaps the plans, the hopes, the dreams that you had made for yourself and for your life have come unraveled before your eyes and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Whatever might be happening in your personal life, my friends, your King says to you: “Trust Me! I know what I am doing! I have everything under control!”
Secondly, when you and I look around in our world it is vitally important for us to know that the Son of Man is still the King of kings! As we heard in our Gospel lesson for this morning (John 18:33-37) there have been and still are people who look at Jesus of Nazareth and say, “This is supposed to be my King? No way!” They see His humility, they see His humanity and like Pilate they mockingly say to Jesus, “You are a King? Bah! Humbug!” What they fail to see, what they cannot comprehend is that Jesus’ goal and Jesus’ purpose for coming into our world as our true Brother was not and is not to establish a visible physical Kingdom here on this earth! Our King came into our world to wage the war and to secure the victory over sin, death and the devil— a victory that we so desperately need! — by sacrificing Himself on the altar of the cross for you and for me. (Pointing to the cross) While the unbelieving world may have absolutely no use for such a King you know the joy, you know the security of knowing that your King is both the true Son of Man as well as the true Son of God!
And finally, it is indeed important for us to remember that Jesus the Son of Man is our King because of what Daniel reveals to us concerning the ultimate activity of our King. He goes on to say in the closing portion of our text, “He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
The Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans— all these kings and all these kingdoms have literally crumbled into dust. Only Christ our King lives and rules eternally! Only Christ our King is worthy of our worship! Only Christ our King has the authority to promise us that when He returns to this earth in all His power and all His majesty and all His glory that we shall rule with Him in His kingdom for ever and ever! That’s why it is important for us to know, to believe, to trust that Christ is our King!
When I was looking at Mount Rainier through those high-powered binoculars it was indeed necessary for me to periodically step back, look at the bigger picture, and then adjust the binoculars so I could see something in greater detail. My prayer this morning, my friends, is that you would do something similar in your own life as a child of God. First of all, make sure that you keep the “big picture” of your life in clear Scriptural focus through regular use of God’s holy Word and God’s holy Sacrament. At the same time, use the high-powered binoculars of God’s holy Word to examine in detail the things that will insure that you are always ready to stand before your King. For what Daniel foresaw here in our text is exactly what our Savior assures each and every one of us: Our King is coming back!
To God be the glory!