Five Vital Roles of the King in His Kingdom.
We have noted Jesus’ utterly unique identity. It is revealed by His own powerful deeds, God’s raising him from the dead, and special terms like Messiah and Christ.
The early proclaimers in Acts acclaimed him with several other special titles also, including Lord (2:36; 10:36), Cornerstone (4:11), Servant (3:13, 26), Prince or Leader (5:31), Savior (5:31; 13:23), Son (9:20; 13:33), and Judge (10:42; 17:31). It may surprise you to think that “Servant” reveals Jesus’ special identity and authority, but it is one of the ways the Old Testament described the One who was to come restore God’s people (Isaiah 42:1; 53:11).
All this tells us that Jesus is the reigning Lord of the kingdom of God. As such, he does several things that are vital to God’s kingdom. He:
- Forgives our sins. This is described variously as forgiving them, blotting them out, and justifying us before God (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 13:38-39). Dealing decisively with human sin is a central part of the kingdom and is necessary for the better days to come (Jeremiah 31:34). The blessing of forgiveness is also communicated by the words “saved” or “salvation” (Acts 4:12; 13:26), but these words also point to an even broader deliverance from the power and effects of sin.
- Gives the Holy Spirit. This remarkable blessing was often mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies of God’s intervention, deliverance and reversing the fortunes of his people (Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28-29). Upon ascending to God’s right hand, Jesus the Messiah poured out the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:33). He continues to give him to those who respond to the message of the kingdom (Acts 2:38; 5:32). The presence and working of God’s Spirit among us now is a key characteristic of the New Covenant in distinction to the Old (Romans 7:6). The Spirit is essential for us to live a life worthy of the kingdom (Romans 8:4-8; 14:17; Galatians 5:16-25).
- Confronts the Evil One on our behalf. As reigning Lord of the kingdom of God, Jesus is definitely the Leader (Acts 5:31), and as our Leader he confronts our enemy on our behalf. While he was here, he confronted the strong man through exorcisms (Matthew 12:22-29) and dethroned the prince of this world through his death and resurrection (John 12:31-32). He now protects his people from the destructive touch of the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 5:18). He now reigns at God’s right hand and will do so until all his enemies are destroyed. The last of these will be death, and that, too, will be overcome when Jesus returns in glory and raises the dead (1 Corinthians 15:25-27).
- Guides his people. Jesus is The Prophet and it is imperative that we listen to him (Acts 3:22; Luke 9:28-35). One of the ways he blesses us is by turning us from our wicked ways (Acts 3:26; cf. Ezekiel 37:23). Jesus is to be the head of the church not only in our doctrinal statements but in actual fact (Ephesians 1:20-23). The church must conduct herself in such a way that people perceive Jesus really is in charge (Acts 4:13). We dare not call him Lord, with all that title entails, and then ignore his words (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).
- Judges. One of the roles of a king is to judge his people (Proverbs 20:8; 29:14), and the Lord does the same (Isaiah 33:22). Scripture is clear that God will judge the world through Jesus at the end of this age. This is an aspect of Jesus’ exalted role and authority (John 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16).
Other roles of Jesus could be mentioned, but these are some of the key aspects of his work as the Anointed One in the kingdom of God. Of these, we seem to especially appreciate and emphasize forgiveness, perhaps because we realize how desperately we need it. Yet the kingdom of God is not established by forgiveness alone, and we must not limit Jesus’ work to that.
For God’s kingdom to have its intended effect of bringing about better days of righteousness, joy, and peace, we also need Jesus to give us his Spirit, confront the Evil One, guide us with wise counsel, and serve as judge. All these are vital to the kingdom of God. Together with forgiveness, they will bring “times of refreshing” and “bless” us as God intended in “these days” (Acts 3:17-26). It is incumbent on us, then, not only to trust and look to our Lord for forgiveness but also to seek and cooperate with him to fill these other roles in our lives as well.