and Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying there is another king, named Jesus!"
(1) fanatical opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus;
(2) the ignorant fears of sordid and selfish minds. Yet the progress of the work must be maintained.
I. THE THOUGHTS OF MEN CONTRASTED WITH THE THOUGHTS OF GOD.
1. Of the religious fanatics and superstitious. The fears for truth leading to false alliances. Compromise of principle.
2. Of rulers. Government is apt to fear for itself, because it knows not its own true basis. Decrees of Caesar must sometimes be resisted.
3. Of the populace. Mistaken ideas of their own interests. Deceivableness under the influence of demagogues or those who pander to their lowest feelings. The blessing was rejected. Jesus was a better King for the people than Caesar.
II. THE MISSION OF THE GOSPEL IN THE WORLD.
1. To explain the Divine dealings with mankind, and reveal the purpose running through both the Jewish and Gentile histories.
2. To lift up the multitudes and deliver them from despotism and deception.
3. To proclaim a new world in place of the old, the coming of the kingdom, which is not the exaltation of an imperial throne, but the reign of God on the earth, in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. To stir up in the hearts of men a desire for the better things. The world within us must be turned upside down before the true peace is built up. - R.
These do all contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another King, one Jesus.Acts 18:2), as at least showing the drift of the emperor's policy, even though it was not strictly binding except in Rome and the coloniae. This, however, might prove an insufficient weapon of attack, and therefore they add another charge, to which no magistrate throughout the empire could be indifferent (Luke 23:2; John 19:12). The preachers were not only bringing in a relligio illicita, but were guilty of treason against the majesty of the empire; they said there was "another King." It is clear from the Epistle to the Thessalonians that the kingdom of Christ, and specially His second coming as King, had been very prominent in the apostle's teaching (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and this may have furnished materials for the accusation.
(Dean Plumptre.)I. HIS PERSONAL ATTRACTIONS. "There is another King, one Jesus," who is "fairer than the children of men." Oh, how great is His beauty!
II. HIS REGAL GRANDEUR. He is Lord of both the dead and the living.
III. THE BLESSEDNESS OF HIS SUBJECTS.
IV. HIS DURATION. "His name shall be continued as long as the sun."
(R. C. Dillon, D. D.)I. THE DIGNITY OF HIS PERSON.
II. THE EXTENT OF HIS EMPIRE. All created things are His.
III. THE BLESSEDNESS AND SECURITY OF HIS SUBJECTS. Who are so —
IV. THE DURATION OF HIS REIGN. "He shall reign forever and ever."
1. What a blank would be produced if all we know about kings and queens were destroyed! We are not to suppose that all have been like our own good Queen Victoria. What we know of kings and queens ought to make us very grateful that we live under such a reign.
2. Do not suppose that there are not any kings or queens but such as wear crowns. If a boy does what is right, serves and loves God, he is a king. If a girl is gentle, wise, pure, dutiful, she has graces which make her queenly. Kingly qualities have often been developed by the ordinary trades of life. The walks of literature also have produced many. So that in the history of the world we have had more monarchs without crowns than with. The Lord Jesus is King —
I. ON THE GROUND OF RIGHT. He had the right of the Father's appointment. We do not question the right of Moses to the leadership, or of David to kingship, or of St. Paul to the apostleship, because they received their offices from God. And it is quite as certain that Jesus received kingship from the same power. "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion."
II. BECAUSE OF HIS PERFECT QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE REGAL POSITION. This is a great deal more than can be said about all kings. If experience and knowledge, if tenderness and power, if majesty and condescension, if dignity and humility, if wisdom and wealth, and if royal lineage and great personal virtues, can show qualification for government, then Jesus has such qualification without limit. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell."
III. BECAUSE HE HAS THE HEARTY APPROVAL OF HIS SUBJECTS. No king ever yet had the free, intelligent goodwill of his people so fully accorded him. Convene a meeting of all His subjects, not any of the crowned heads of Europe would secure one vote from the subjects of Jesus, in opposition to His monarchy. Every voter would say, "Jesus only, our King."
IV. BECAUSE HE ISSUES LAW TO HIS PEOPLE AND MAINTAINS RESPECT FOR AND OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW HE ISSUES. What mighty contrasts exist between the laws of earthly sovereigns and those of Jesus! Human laws affect nations; Divine laws are for and affect everybody. Human laws have to be altered to suit altered circumstances, but "one jot or one tittle of His word shall not fail." Laws here have been founded in error; Christ's are founded in eternal truth. Laws are frequently hard to interpret correctly, and men of plain, simple minds, as well as astute lawyers, have made mistakes. Christ's laws are all easy, simple, and plain.
V. BECAUSE HE HAS POWER TO ENFORCE HIS WILL. No king, however large his army, or however great his power, ever had the might that Jesus has.
VI. BECAUSE HE HAS A LARGE RETINUE OF ILLUSTRIOUS PERSONS. The retinue King Jesus has, and will have, will far surpass anything of the sort ever seen upon our earth — Abel, Noah, Abraham, David, etc. Yes, patriarchs looked forward to His day; prophets gladly announced His coming; kings and poets wrote of Him, and angels ministered unto Him. And now, as His chariot appears, they all say, "There is another King, one Jesus." Look at the chariot. It is called the gospel. Its wheels are capable of travelling over any sort of roads, rough or smooth, hard or soft; through woods, across seas, or over deserts. The chariot itself is so strong that not all the powers of men and devils can break it. No time can cause it to decay, nor can any element impair its beauty. It is lined within and without with promises. It is so full of provisions that not the supply of all the wants of all men can possibly produce deficiency. And then this chariot is so large that there is room for all: and all who ride do so free of charge. Then, what steeds are drawing this chariot! The one is called "Love abounding," and the other "Zeal undying"; and they never tire. But neither chariot nor horses are half so wonderful as King Jesus, the occupant of this chariot (Revelation 1:13). On the procession moves; and the illustrious ones following are as grand and even more numerous than such as preceded. Here come the apostles, martyrs, reformers, etc., etc. There is no wisdom so wise, no goodness so great, nor any act so becoming, as to join whilst we are yoking the retinue of King Jesus. This is done by giving our hearts to Him. Joseph joined when but a boy. Samuel also, and David, and Timothy.
VII. BECAUSE HE TAKES A DEEP PERSONAL INTEREST IN THE ELEVATION AND GOOD OF ALL HIS SUBJECTS. All kings have not done so. Some have asked only how they could increase their possessions or dignity. Note the marks of the interest monarchs take in their subjects.
1. The sacrifices they make in their behalf. Look then at the sacrifices made by Jesus for all His people.
2. Their gladness when the people are contented and prosperous; and their tenderness and sympathy when calamity comes upon them. A king should he the reflex, or counterpart, of his people. This, I am sure, is what Jesus is; when His subjects are in suffering, He says, "Fear not, I will uphold thee"; and when He has turned their sorrow into joy, He says, "Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King."
VIII. BECAUSE HE GIVES ACCESS TO HIS PEOPLE. The power of an earthly king to do this is limited; and those who approach earthly thrones can only do so at great cost. But Jesus allows all His subjects to approach Him at all times, and without expense.
IX. BECAUSE HE HAS A LARGE REVENUE. "As rich as a king" is quite a proverb. Boys and girls may well wonder where the king gets all his money from. It is from taxes! Jesus is by far the richest king that ever occupied a throne. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." But He is not dependent upon gold for the progress of His kingdom. In His treasury there are contributions of greater value. Prayer, praise, holy living, zeal.
X. BECAUSE HE PROTECTS THE RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES OF HIS SUBJECTS. Does He not say to all, "Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm"? I know that sometimes it looks as though He gave them up to the power of their enemies. It looked as though He had forgotten Joseph, Daniel, etc.; but the issue showed how well they were cared for.
XI. BECAUSE HE HAS ROYAL FAVOURS TO BESTOW. In all countries kings have been noted for this. Warriors, legislators, poets, philanthropists, the great, the wealthy, and the learned, are they who carry off royal honours; and should royal favours come down to the poor and indigent in any great measure, what a stir and to-do would be made about it! Jesus carries off the palm in this department. He restricts not His favours to any privileged class; like the sunlight, they fall with equal beauty and energy upon the brow of the poor and of the wealthy; like the dew, they descend with equal power upon the cottage and the palace home. What are the favours of King Jesus?
1. Pardon for all sin. "He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour," etc.
2. Purity of heart and life.
3. Grace, according to the wants of His people.
4. A valid title to heaven, and its possession at death.For these gifts the world's gold, valour, industry, wisdom, are all in vain; and so for each one we must say, "Now, thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
I. CONTEMPLATING EXCLUSIVELY SPIRITUAL DOMINION. Earthly monarchs aspire after territorial dominion, and are accounted monarchs because they possess it. Christ's kingdom has its seat in the soul.
II. CLAIMING RIGHTFULLY UNQUALIFIED OBEDIENCE. Of what earthly sovereign can it be said that he rightfully claims unqualified obedience? He justly demands unqualified obedience —
1. In right of His position. He is King of kings: obedience cannot he withheld from Him on the plea that there is a higher power we must first consult.
2. In right of the equity of His government. His service is always "reasonable," His honour and our interests never really clash.
3. In right of His grace. He is the Saviour. Obedience cannot be withheld from Him on the plea that we owe Him but little.
III. SECURING INFALLIBLY HEARTFELT HOMAGE. If admission be granted to the presence of an earthly sovereign, how often is the homage rendered to him nothing more than compliance with a state ceremony! Jesus is "another King." He rules by love, He wins the heart.
IV. EXPECTING CONFIDENTLY UNIVERSAL EMPIRE.
(J. T. Poulter, B. A.)1. "There is another King." Alas! for the world, alas! for us all, if there be not. The hope of the world is a Christendom in which Christ shall reign. A Christendom in which He does not reign we see, and have seen enough of. Men are getting weary of the preaching of Jesus and His gospel, while Christian races are wasted by vice, poverty, and war. Along with all our Christianity we still need men to preach "another King, one Jesus"; to whom all the selfishness of our politics, the craft of our diplomacy, the fierce contention of our industry, are hateful; a King who has left "A new commandment, That ye love one another," and in one aspiration, "That they all may be one," the key to His hope and effort for mankind. The world has yet to try what Jesus can do for it.
2. Christ foretold that His method would try the patience and weary the hope of man. There is nothing in England or in Europe which is sadder than the picture which He Himself draws of the development of His kingdom in Matthew 24. But He saw beyond that which moved Him to pour out His soul unto death. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." And this is the rebuke of all our faithless doubts and dreads. Mark the patience with which through unnumbered ages the Lord of the world has been elaborating the chirping apparatus of a cricket, the feather of the pinion of a bird, or the spots on the gay plumage of a butterfly's wing — and yet we faint and lose heart because in a few centuries this great world is not converted to Jesus, and the harvest, for the sake of which the whole creation has been groaning and travailing through well-nigh infinite ages, is not yet reaped and garnered on high.
3. The fundamental question is, Why should man want another king? Why should we not leave the secular spirit to take charge of the interests and to guide the progress of human society? and I answer —(1) That something like the form of Christ's kingdom is implied in and prophesied by the very structure of human society. When we say that man is a social being, we mean something differing entirely in kind, and not only in degree, from what we mean when we speak of the social instincts and habits of the ants or the bees. The key to man's life is to be sought in heaven and not in the dust. In entering the sphere of human society we come under a higher law and enter a higher world. Consider the fact that all man's most exquisite pleasures and griefs arise out of his relations with others, out of his social habits and affections, of which the richest elements connect themselves with his duties and ministries to the poor, the weak, the helpless; can we believe with all this before us, that man's life as a social being is still to be but the struggle for existence in another form, of which self-seeking and not self-devotion must be the law? I can see no possible beauty, joy, or hope in human society, except "bear ye one another's burdens" be the law. And I can see no basis for that law, and no assurance of its supremacy, but in the contemplation of His life and His living energy who came from heaven "not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Just as a skilled naturalist, looking at the structure of an animal, can forecast its habit and habitation, even so, as we look at the structure of man as a social being, we can affirm with certainty that the habit of his life was meant to be obedience to the law of Christ, and the home of his life and theatre of its development is the kingdom of heaven.(2) And what seems implied in man's constitution is exemplified in his history. Among all peoples there are visions of which this is the substance. Man's ideal of society everywhere takes this form; he seems to feel instinctively that only in such a world as the kingdom of heaven can he truly and nobly live. All the world's great thinkers lead on its thoughts to a time when that reign of truth, righteousness, and love, which the Bible associates with Messiah's kingdom, shall be realised, and all the woe and waste and wrong of the world shall be stayed.
4. But then, it may be said, if men are dreaming about this and are aiming at this, why not leave them alone to work out their idea? The answer to this is that God did leave man in the Gentile world alone, that he might discover whither the course of things would drift him, and might be prepared through disappointment and suffering to accept at length the helping Hand which would be held out to him from on high. Caesar was the result of man's development as a social being. The world's work for itself ends in ruin. The march of the ages resulted in a condition of the Roman Empire which, but for the restoring power brought to bear upon it by Christianity, nothing but a second deluge could have cured. Let the state of India before the English came to it, let the state of China and Africa at this moment, exhibit the result which comes inevitably to peoples when they try — or do not try, for this is what it ends in — to work out their own salvation for themselves. We need only look round us at this moment in Europe to form some just estimate of Caesar and his work. We have had modern Caesars in our day, enthroned in the centres of civilisation; and the end of their sway has everywhere been wreck. Blessed be God that there is another King, "one Jesus"; for man's experiments in government are failures, and must be failures. But is it not a stain on God's righteous government, does it not reveal a flaw in His will or in His power, that things in human society, thus left to themselves, tend to dissolution? Surely not: it was never intended in the scheme of Providence that man should work out his own salvation or the salvation of society.
5. What is the relation of this other King to the kingdoms of this world? The officers of Caesar were naturally alarmed. This is what perplexed and alarmed Pilate. There was little that was kinglike in Jesus, in Pilate's sense of kingship. And yet he was anxious and afraid, though why he could not tell. Men are slow to believe in a kingship which makes no sign before the world. The true kingdom is a kingdom which penetrates and purifies all other kingdoms, just as the electric force pervades creation, everywhere felt, never touched and seen. We do nothing contrary to the decrees of Caesar in preaching that there is "another King, one Jesus." He works entirely from within; what of blessing can come to the world by making men wiser, purer, more unselfish, more brotherly, that He bestows. But this breaks up nothing which the progress of humanity, however realised, would not break up; it consolidates everything on earth which stands square with truth, righteousness, and God.
6. Christ has one way of working out the regeneration of human society; Caesar, under all the various shapes and forms of government, has another. The one works purely from the inward outward, and heals and cleanses at the spring. The other cleanses for awhile the outside, but finding itself powerless to cleanse the inward, finally gives up its work in despair. How many times through the ages has society been broken up, reconstructed, reformed, redressed, only to fall back again more hopelessly into the darkness. Guilt is oppressing, sin is corrupting, and selfishness is wasting humanity everywhere. The King whom we preach cares nothing for His Royalty, save in so far as it can lift that burden, heal that corruption, stay that waste.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
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