Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 (Last Sunday in the Church Year—Series B)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
November 25, 2012
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Old Testament lesson, Daniel 7:
As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. . . . I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed
This Last Sunday of the Church Year is sometimes known as Christ the King Sunday. Our bulletin cover this morning has the Latin words, Jesus Christus Rex Regum: “Jesus Christ is King of kings.” In the Gospel reading from John 18, Jesus tells Pontius Pilate that He is indeed a king, but that His kingdom is not of this world. Daniel, in our Old Testament text, describes the kingdom of this Christ, “To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” But what does it mean for us that Jesus Christ is King of kings? What does it mean that Jesus is our King?
As we explore the answers to those questions this morning, we begin with Daniel’s picture of Jesus receiving God’s eternal kingdom at His enthronement. “With the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given . . . a kingdom.” “Son of Man” is Jesus favorite name for Himself in the Gospels. He is the one who is like a human, in fact completely human in appearance and nature, yet is more than ordinary human. Jesus is also true God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-2, 14) This very Son of Man and Son of God is the One who comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matt. 24:30) He is the One, Jesus tells us in Matthew 25, that “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, will sit on His glorious throne.” And it is Daniel who tells us of the moment when Jesus was enthroned in glory after accomplishing the will of God the Father, the Ancient of Days, after saving the world from sin, crushing Satan, and annihilating death.
But Daniel’s information is very brief. Jesus presents Himself, risen and ascended, before the throne of His heavenly Father. The Father gives to Jesus dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom. For a fuller picture, we must turn to the Revelation of St. John. Chapter 5 gives us the coronation and enthronement of Christ, the Lamb of God. “I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain. . . . and He went and took the scroll from the right hand and Him who was seated on the throne. [The Ancient of Days, God the Father, as Daniel tells us!] . . . And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.’” (Rev. 5:6b-7, 9-10)
What Daniel sees and what John sees are the same great event—Jesus being received into heaven at His ascension. Jesus Christ is the Lamb who was slain. The victory over sin, Satan, and death was won by Christ the Lamb in His death on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead. Now Christ, the risen Lamb, has ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of power and majesty. He presents Himself before the Father, the Ancient of Days, and is given from Him authority and glory and power over all peoples and nations, and His dominion and His kingdom would be an everlasting reign. Jesus earned and merited the right to be the Lord and judge of all human events and history by the shedding of his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and by his victorious resurrection from the grave. As the Savior of the world, who died for all, Christ alone determines, and will continue to determine, the outcome of human history. He is the One who dominates all evil, and He will control it for the benefit of the Church and her mission. Finally, at the End, Jesus will judge the evil and deliver His suffering Church. Thus the Lord Christ rules everything on behalf of His heavenly Father and for the benefit of His Church, so that she will be protected in faith and hope and will be enabled to carry out her mission to the very end of the age.
Jesus Christus Rex Regum! Jesus Christ is King of kings! He rules over all creation with His almighty power on behalf of God the Father. Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” What a great comfort it is to know that there isn’t anything that is not under our King Jesus! He upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb. 2:8) He controls the forces of nature and the destiny of the nations; without His will not a sparrow falls to the ground, nor a hair from our heads. Good and evil are subject to Him. He is the Lord of lords and the Kings of kings.
But we also learn from God’s Word in Daniel and in the Book of Revelation that Jesus Christ is our King—the King of His Church. By the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and King who rescued us from sin and death He has made us citizens of His kingdom of grace in which we serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. This kingdom of our Lord Christ comes to us “when our heavenly Father give us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life.” (Small Catechism) Christ the King rules in power for the benefit and blessing of His Church—His people of faith.
Therefore, the world continues to exist and is governed by Christ so that He might gather and build His Church, bringing more and more people to faith and preserving them in His Church. Because Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth, He sends out His Christians, you and me, to preach the Gospel to all people. As He sends us, He protects us so that the forces of evil will not prevail over us. We know that our Friend and Savior, Jesus, is the ruler of all things. That’s why we can rest assured that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
And His purpose is that Jesus might lead us, His Church on earth, home to glory in heaven. The chief purpose of the Lord’s Church is to win and to prepare people for the kingdom of glory where we who are faithful unto death will be crowned by Christ Himself with the crown of everlasting life. “According to his great mercy, [the Lord] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pe 1:3-5)
Neither the world nor the Church exists for purposes of their own, but for one thing, that sinners may come to faith in Jesus Christ as their only Savior from sin, death, and the devil. In order for this to be accomplished, the dominion and kingdom of Church and world has been placed into the nail-scarred hands of Him who came to save sinners, Christ the King. That’s what it means to trust that Jesus Christ is King of kings. That’s what it means to know that Jesus is your Savior and your King who will bring you from this world into His kingdom of glory where you will live and reign with Him eternally.
“To [Jesus] who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him. (Rev 1:5 -7) Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.