Have you ever wondered why the wise men presented Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh? These precious gifts were typical of what would be presented to a king—just as the queen of Sheba presented gold and spices to King Solomon (1 Kings 10:10).
And have you ever wondered why the magi asked King Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). They obviously took the prophecies of the Christ as the anointed King literally. And so did Herod, who then tried to kill any possible competitor for the throne.
Matthew clearly shows that Jesus was of the royal lineage of Israel’s most famous king, David. And Jesus Himself plainly stated to the Roman governor Pilate, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
The angel’s message to Mary
Before Jesus’ birth, the angel Gabriel brought an important message to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke1:31-33).
This everlasting Kingdom was foretold in many Old Testament passages, such as in Daniel: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
As the Son of the Highest, Jesus would die and become the Savior of all mankind. The name Jesus is from the Greek form of Joshua, which means “savior” in Hebrew. The title Christ is the equivalent of the Hebrew term Messiah, which means “anointed.”
The biblical tradition was for kings to be anointed as David was (1 Samuel 16:12-13). As shown in Matthew 1, Jesus Christ is a direct descendant of David. As Messiah (the anointed One), He will inherit David’s throne, and He will also become the King of Kings over the whole world. He is ready to take up His position when the time is right.
Naturally, His disciples wondered when Jesus would take over as King. They asked the risen Christ, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
A question of timing
In the minds of the apostles, the messianic King would soon bring freedom from Roman oppression and usher in the peace and prosperity pictured by prophecies they had heard since childhood.
But Jesus knew there was much to be done in preparation for His return when He comes as a conquering leader for the benefit of all mankind. He told His disciples that only the Father knew when the time would be right. Until then, His people are to be involved in a special work right up until the end of the age:
“And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’” (Acts 1:7-8; see also Matthew 24:36).
God’s Church is to teach the gospel (good news) of the coming King, His Kingdom and His laws to all who will become His subjects (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20).
But when will He take over as King? Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).
Not of this world
What did Jesus mean when He said that His “kingdom is not of this world”?
This society—this world—has been conditioned over thousands of years to the way of getting rather than giving. We often respond to life with self-concern instead of obedience to God and caring for others as much as ourselves. The apostle John said, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
God’s way is the way of giving. Jesus’ rule will always be for the benefit and development of humanity.
This is not the way that most national rulers behave in the world. As Christ told His disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles [nations] lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
That devotion to serve mankind will be the hallmark of the reign of the King of Kings. We read that He will “judge between the nations,” and the result will be the beating of swords into plowshares, bringing peace and understanding between longtime national enemies (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).
Taking over as King of Kings
The Bible describes the awesome time when Jesus Christ will take over the kingdoms of the earth at His second coming.
“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned’” (Revelation 11:15-17).
Jesus Christ will carry the title: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).
But who are the kings Christ will be “King of Kings” over? The Bible shows that the human, selfish leaders of this age will be replaced in the age to come by caring rulers, converted from selfishness to concern and changed to spirit by the resurrection at Christ’s return (Revelation 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Christians called to be kings
That devotion to serve mankind will be the hallmark of the reign of the King of Kings.The apostle John described Jesus Christ’s role as both our Savior and King and showed how He is preparing us now for our future roles assisting Him:
“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6; see also 20:4).
Jesus also discussed the future jobs of His followers several times in the Gospels. At one point in their training, the disciples asked Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27). In other words, is this really worth the effort?
Jesus encouraged them: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (verses 28-29).
One of Christ’s parables described some of His followers being given “authority over ten cities,” some over five and so on. This shows that those who use the responsibilities given to them for the profit of the Kingdom will be better able to serve mankind as rulers under Christ (Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 25:13-30).
So how do we train for such awesome responsibilities?
Training to be kings and priests
Jesus is already King over all repentant and converted Christians, and He is preparing His followers for responsibilities in His Kingdom. As the apostle John recorded, “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
How are kings trained? Consider the example of future kings or queens in nations where there is a constitutional monarchy today. They are taught to handle responsibility and the affairs of state from an early age. Prince George, third in line to the British throne, at the tender age of 1 has already become a loved representative of the British monarchy, and he will have a rigorous training program ahead. And, of course, his parents, William and Kate, duke and duchess of Cambridge, endure intense scrutiny as they perform duties on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. When people see attitudes of service and love in spite of stressful circumstances, it can endear their monarchs to them.
Our training to be kings in an everlasting Kingdom must be even more rigorous. But this can also include small matters we may consider insignificant. Jesus is looking for faithfulness in all things and will commend those who succeed in His training program: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23, emphasis added throughout).
We don’t have to have many possessions to show God’s nature in our lives. Jesus said of the generous widow who had very little, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:3-4). This trust that God would provide for her needs is part of the trust we need to have in our Father’s loving care, in good and bad times.
Our training needs to include:
- Learning and obeying the laws of the Kingdom. These are the laws of God in the Bible and are expanded by Jesus Christ to show their spiritual intent (see Matthew 5:17-48). Download our booklet God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today for more details.
- Thinking and acting the way the King of Kings thinks and acts. This involves repentance from the selfish ways we used to follow and allowing the Spirit of God to dwell in us. Our booklet Change Your Life! can help you begin this process.
- Developing the character of the King. Jesus Christ was willing to give His life for humanity. We are told we must put away sin and follow Him:
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
When Jesus returns He will establish the millennial Kingdom of God, bringing all that man has always wanted—peace, security, a meaningful life, happy families and a relationship with God, who is waiting to welcome us into eternity.
Then the prophecy about this great King, and the kings who serve Him, will be fulfilled: “And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).
Jesus Christ was born to be Savior and King for the good of all mankind, and indeed all creation! Download our free booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom to understand more about this inspiring but often-misunderstood truth of the Bible.