Jesus, King of the Jews
Updated: Feb 2
A meditation for Easter by Ian Atkin
Believers in Jesus Christ are familiar with the belief that Jesus is a King and refer to Him as such.
In our Churches we speak of King Jesus, we proclaim Him to be King, we sing hymns about Jesus our King etc. but perhaps over familiarity with our faith contributes to our forgetting how unusual it was that at His birth and death Jesus was identified as a King and King of the Jews at that.
How can we explain to non-believers our absolute certainty that Jesus is a King and even more so King of the Jews – How is He?
Jesus , King of the Jews
In the Gospel stories of the birth of Jesus we hear how the Magi followed the star to Jerusalem and then on to Bethlehem. While in Jerusalem they asked Herod:
“Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews?” (Mt 2:2)
When reading this story I have found it puzzling to think about how baby Jesus could be born a king – how could this be?
Usually someone who is a king started off as a prince and in later life becomes a king (like Prince Charles is now King Charles). For a prince to become a king his parents would normally have to be royalty, a king or queen. Mary and Joseph were neither.
No Jewish Royal lineage was in place in Israel in the times of Jesus’ birth, His parents were not king and queen of Israel - So how, when He was born, could Jesus be regarded as a king and how king of the Jews?
It is quite an interesting question to ask.
The gospels also tell the story of Pontius Pilate and the role he played in Jesus’ trial and subsequent execution by crucifixion. At His trial Pilate very directly asks Jesus:
“Are you King of the Jews?” (Mt 27:11)
Jesus directly replies:
“Yes, it is as you say.”
When reading this account I have found it puzzling to think about how Jesus could say He was a king and how King of the Jews?
He never had a coronation, had no palace, no throne. What made him King of the Jews?
It is an interesting question to ask.
In these two stories, which tell of the beginning and end of Jesus of Nazareth’s life on earth, it is striking to note that.
Jesus was born “King of the Jews” and died “King of the Jews”!
But how could this be?
As Christians we believe in the virgin birth; that Mary conceived by the Spirit of God.
Jesus’ father therefore is God, and we believe that God is King over all He created. Divine royalty is therefore part of who Jesus is from His conception.
In the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1:6 and Luke 1:27 and 2:4 we see that Jesus is of the Royal lineage of King David. David was King of Israel, and Jesus as a descendant of King David, is of the royal lineage prophesied in the Scriptures to be the Messianic bloodline. It is an interesting observation that it is through Joseph, though not His physical father, that this royal ancestry is passed on to Jesus.
The Magi, through their knowledge of the ancient Hebrew Holy Books and through their knowledge of astronomy knew that ancient prophecies were being fulfilled when they asked Herod the question “where is the One born King of the Jews?” –
Later, having arrived in Bethlehem, before their very eyes they saw baby Jesus. It is amazing to realise that they knew they had found their King and bowed down and worshipped Him – the One born King of the Jews.
Through ancient Hebrew records of genealogy and ancestry Jesus of Nazareth is identified at birth as ‘The Christ’ (in Greek), ‘The Messiah’ (in Hebrew) – i.e. ‘The Anointed One’ – a King!
Because of His divine conception, due to His bloodline, and, in fulfilment of prophecy, Jesus, at birth was a royal -
Thus Jesus was born.
Subsequently, 33 years after Jesus’ birth, Pontius Pilate, who had heard the stories and claims that Jesus was King of the Jews, The Christ, The Messiah asked his question of Jesus and
got this answer!
Pilate ordered a sign to be put up above the head of Jesus on the cross saying:
“This is Jesus King of the Jews” (Mt 27:37).
Thus Jesus died.
We of course know that this is not the end of the Easter story!
In ancient times God longed to be the only King over His chosen people, the Israelites, but we understand from scripture that He was rejected as such by them; In 1 Samuel 8:4-9 God says:
“They are rejecting me as King, they want a man just like all the other nations.”
We know that God granted the Israelites their wish and chose David to be King over Israel; God foreknew that through David’s ancestral bloodline He, God, would regain for Himself His relationship with Israel as their King.
The first stage in re-gaining His Kingship was through the life and death of Jesus, His Son, King of The Jews at birth and King of The Jews at death.
The second stage was through Christ’s resurrection from death to life Mat 28:6 and His ascension into heaven Luke 24:50-53, Acts 22:36.
The Kingship of God on earth will be fully restored and fulfilled when Jesus returns to take up the Royal Davidic throne in Jerusalem, Luke 1:32-33, Zechariah 12:10, John 19:37, Acts 1:11.
“LOOK, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, AND EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM, EVEN THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM, AND ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN BECAUSE OF HIM.
SO SHALL IT BE! AMEN. Revelation 1:7.
Then, as the Scriptures inform us, Jesus will truly be “King of the Jews”! King over Israel.
And – King of the whole world!
Because as Zechariah 13:10 prophesies:
“THE LORD WILL BE KING OVER THE WHOLE EARTH.
ON THAT DAY THERE WILL BE ONE LORD, AND HIS NAME THE ONLY NAME.”
Jesus is The Lord, it is He who will be King of the whole world, He will be The One Lord and at His Name, JESUS, all the inhabitants on earth will bow…
Happy Easter time! The King lives!