He Lives That Death May Die

The Many Crowns of Christ

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. (Revelation 5:9)

Jesus Christ is a king unlike any other king. Mere human monarchs have their strengths and weaknesses, their fortes and flaws, the particular glories for which they are remembered and the inevitable inadequacies they wish to be forgotten. Yet the man Christ Jesus — not only truly human but also truly God — eclipses and far surpasses every one.

Jesus is worthy of more than a singular crown. As King of kings, and Lord of lords, and Glory of glories, he is worthy of many.

Lord of Love

For one, King Jesus has demonstrated in history — objectively, in time and space — his allegiance and affection for his people in the sacrificial action of dying for them.

When Christ’s subjects consider his love, we are not left to speculate about the subjective. Rather, we look to the concrete demonstration of his love for us, and his Father’s love for us in him, at the cross: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Behold his hands and side!

“The depths of our need, and the length to which he went to rescue us, show us the heights of Christ’s love.”

In his glorified body, the risen Christ carries, visibly, the marks of crucifixion in the scars of his hands and side that forever exude his love for his people. One day we will see his “rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.” No act of love is greater than the Son of God himself not only becoming man but a servant, and humbling himself all the way to death, even death on a cross, to reconcile to himself not the good and righteous but us sinners. The depths of our need, and the length to which he went to rescue us, show us the heights of his love.

Lord of Life

But demonstrating his love, by giving himself to death for sinners, would have been tragic were he not Lord of life able to triumph over the grave. We would have no eternal life were he not alive for us to be joined to him. But he is not dead; he is alive.

As Creator, “In him was life” (John 1:4), and now as the resurrected one who has conquered death, we have new life in him, the very life of his resurrection, life that will not die. As Jesus said to Martha when she was grieving the death of her brother — and Jesus was about to raise him — “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Earthly rulers will come and go; they have life for a while, as long as King Jesus sees fits to grant it, but they are not its lord. But Jesus is the Lord of all life, from the beginning to the end, from before the foundation of the world to eternity future, from the new birth until the new heavens and new earth.

Lord of Heaven

In his resurrection life, Jesus is not only Lord over all earthly lords. He now reigns as Lord of heaven. Not only has he, as human, been admitted to heaven following his ascension, but he has come forth to the very center to sit with his Father on the throne of the universe. In the greatest enthronement ceremony in all history, surrounded by the angelic hosts, the crown of heaven has been placed on his head, and his Father has given King Jesus the scepter to rule the nations.

“Time is his. The years are his. In his perfect timing, Christ will bring this fallen age to an end.”

And as Lord of heaven, he does not stand but sits. It is a mark of his glory that he now sits. He is seated on heaven’s throne. In the old-covenant arrangement, “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Hebrews 10:11–13). As Lord of heaven, he sits with his Father on “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 3).

Lord of Years

Finally, among endless other glories, Jesus is Lord of time. “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2), and “he is before all things” (Colossians 1:17). And with his coming to earth, he split history in half. Without him, there would have been no time and history. Heaven’s worship declares him to be the one “worthy . . . to take the scroll [of God’s purposes in history] and to open its seals” (Revelation 5:9).

The apostle Peter tells us of King Jesus’s sovereign reign over time: “Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). He is not slow, as we’re prone to reckon slowness and grow impatient, but he is patient, not eager for any to perish but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

But soon enough he will come again, and all in a moment, like a thief (2 Peter 3:10). Time is his. The years are his. He is attentive to every year and hour, every month and minute, and in his perfect timing, he will destroy the ungodly (2 Peter 3:7) and bring this fallen age to an end, and usher his people into the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

Thy Matchless King

Jesus is indeed a matchless king, and by faith and the power of his Spirit, he is our King. We not only look on his glories from a distance but we admire him as a brother, as a friend, as those who are known by him, and know ourselves loved by him.

There is no king like Jesus. He is worthy of many crowns.