The Once and Future King Philippians 2:5-11

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

That is what the Jews were expecting from their Messiah. A King to rule the earth. A mighty King to strike down the wicked and save God’s chosen people Israel and. But that wasn’t quite what they were given.

Matthew 2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

The wise men came to find the King of the Jews. They looked in the royal palace – but found no new-born King there. There wasn’t even room in the Inn for baby Jesus to be born. So the Wise Men found a baby in a stable lying in a manger and there they gave Him gifts worthy of a King – gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the next day the parents were dashing over the border to escape the anger of the King – and that baby would grown up as a refugee in a foreign land. Hardly an auspicious beginning to the life of a King.

THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For Thy holy nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth cam’st Thou, Lord, on earth,
And in great humility,
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee.
Jesus always rejected any of the trappings of a king. No crown. No cloak. No rings. No palace. No throne. No courtiers.
Luke 9:58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

All through His ministry Jesus rejected any attempts to treat him as King. After the miracle of feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, we read this.
John 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

There was only one point in His ministry when people treated Jesus as a King. But that was not with sincerity but with mockery.
Matthew 27:27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ was indeed born to be King of the Jews. But in His Earthly ministry few people apart from the Wise Men recognised Jesus as the King which He was.

There is a title which fits Jesus perfectly. It is the title of a book by T.H.White. “The once and future king.” That is a book in four parts which tells the story of King Arthur. You probably know the first and best known part which is called “The Sword in the Stone”. But Jesus Christ is the one and only true “Once and Future King” He left all the glory of heaven behind to become a human being.

2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing: ‘Glory to the new-born King.’

Christ was indeed rich beyond our imagining! Creator and Sustainer of the universe – King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet He gave it all up to be born as a baby in a stable, the Word without a word, for us and our salvation. The Once and Future King.

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

The eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ exchanged his deity for our humanity, exchanged his immortality for our frailty, gave up his Throne and His Crown to become our Saviour. The Once and Future King.

Some people think that the during the incarnation the life of Jesus Christ the Son of God was a bit like the double life of the indestructible Superman hidden inside the disguise of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Some people think that Jesus was always king of kings and Lord of Lords, almighty, all-knowing, eternal. That understanding of the life of Christ is completely mistaken. Jesus was not the immortal King of Kings disguised as a simple rabbi, carpenter, poet and peasant. At the incarnation Jesus emptied himself, made Himself nothing. Jesus was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who had given up all His heavenly glory to BECOME a simple rabbi, carpenter, poet and peasant, Immanuel, God is with us, one with us, one of us.

The story is told of a wise and beloved Shah who once ruled the great land of Persia. The Shah cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he “came where he was”. One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long into his leader’s face and with love and wonder in his voice said, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!”

That is just a story. The incarnation of the Son of God is history. The Lord Jesus Christ has given us Himself. The Once and Future King.

But we do not yet see Jesus as king. The future which is certain to be has not yet come to be on earth. Jesus is not King yet. At this time the Once and Future King is “the not yet King”. We’re not in the promised land yet. We’re in the middle of the cliff-hanger, we haven’t got to the Grand Finale yet.

So this season of Christmas will always seem in some ways unsatisfactory, even frustrating. Because we are celebrating the beginning of the end, not the end of the end. We are celebrating the incarnation of the Son of God- but only his first coming in humility, not yet his second coming with the glory of all the angels.
But we must remember that Christ’s first coming guarantees His second coming. Because He has come as a baby in a manger, we can be absolutely certain that He will be returning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

All those glorious PROMISES of Messiah’s coming which were not fulfilled at His incarnation WILL BE FULFILLED when Christ returns. Jesus is ALREADY King = one day the whole of creation will see Him in all his Kingly spendour, bow the knee and worship at the feet of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The day is surely coming when
Isaiah 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.

That day is coming – although it is not yet here. The once and future king is not yet King – but He soon will be!
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

On one occasion Michelangelo turned to his fellow artists and said with frustration in his voice, “Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead?” he asked. “Why do you concentrate on the passing episode as if it were the last work, as if the curtain dropped down there on disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted only a few hours. But to the unending eternity Christ is alive; Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!”
Michelangelo was right. Even though the cross is vitally important because of the redemption Jesus accomplished for us there, we must not emphasize His death to the exclusion of His resurrection victory. We should think of Him now in His glorified state in heaven.

So at this Christmas time we bow the knee to worship Jesus Christ the Son of God, Immanuel, the once and future King. For all the world can tell Jesus is only “the not yet King.” But we look to the future which is certain. We know that one day
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
When like stars His children crowned,
All in white shall wait around.

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