And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True…
The supreme kingship of Jesus Christ as Mediator is manifestly the theme of our text. The ruling principle in the mediatorial empire is benevolence. The final purpose o! the mediatorial empire is the highest possible good of man. This Jesus is able to accomplish by reason of His infinite attributes of wisdom and of power.
I. Let us look, then, at the MATERIAL UNIVERSE. There are many kings in matter. The sun is the king of day; the moon is the queen of night. The planet, with its attendant satellites, exercises a kingly rule over them. Gravitation, subtle and invisible, yet permeating all things, and influencing all things in sea, air, and land, exercises a kind of kingly rule over everything within the range of its influence. Just as the British Empire has its colonies and dependencies in Africa, Australia, and America; each possessing its own governor and its own mode of government; each independent in its place, yet dependent upon the parent power; each supreme in its own locality, subject nevertheless to the higher supremacy of the Queen: so is it in this material creation. It is divided into miniature kingdoms, petty empires, and in each kingdom there is a king. Look at the bee-hive. There is congregated under that straw cone an empire. All the elements of a kingdom are found there. A queen rules within. Authority and subjection, rule and submission may be found under that covering. The same thing is true of the ant-hill. The naturalist assures us that order and harmony prevail in what appears to us confused chaos. There a kingly rule is recognised, submission to supreme authority is observed, and in these you have the elements of an empire. Lifting your eyes from the earth around you to the heaven above you, we are told that those heavens are divided into districts and groups of worlds, that in each group there is one system exercising a kingly rule over the rest. Far above all these petty kingdoms and minute empires is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He moulded every atom. He brightened every star. He fashioned every system. He appointed to each its boundary. He created all forces and originated all laws. From Him all things proceed. To Him all things tend. For Him all things exist. And around Him all things revolve. He is King of kings and Lord of lords in the material world. The disciples of a sceptical science have endeavoured to extort from nature evidence against her King. The geologist has dived into the depths of the earth, hoping to discover some strange hieroglyphics on the rocks of nature which would bear testimony against the King of nature. The astronomer has soared into heaven, and tried to get the very stars in their courses to fight against Him who made them. In fact, nature has been twisted and torn and disembowelled in order to obtain evidence against her Lord. Faithful to her mission, she moves on for the accomplishment of the great purposes for which her King has made her; so that, whether by her regular movement, or the occasional suspension of her laws, as in the case of miracles, she asserts the kingship of her Lord, and proves her obedience to her Master. This world materially considered is eminently fitted for Christ as Mediator. We can only conceive of three kinds of worlds. One in which there shall be nothing but purity, and consequently nothing but happiness; such is heaven. The second, a world in which there shall be nothing but sin, and consequently nothing but misery; such is hell. The third, a world in which there shall be an admixture of the two, good and evil, right and wrong; such is the world we occupy. This world, take it geologically, is not fitted for anything else than a mediatorial world. It is not fitted, as to its material construction, to be a heaven, a world of unsullied purity, and, consequently, a world of unmixed happiness. Lightnings and storms ruthlessly pursue their destructive and desolating course; the volcano belches forth its destructive lava, which carries desolation to cities and villages and fruitful plains. These things could not exist in a world of unsullied happiness and purity. We find the elements of ruin and destruction in the very material of which the world is constructed, and it is not fitted on that account to be a heaven. It is not fitted, on the other hand, to be a world of retribution and of unmixed evil. The sun shines here. The valleys smile with luxuriance here. Thrilling sensations of pleasure are experienced here. Scenes of loveliness spread themselves before the vision here. There is no sunshine in hell; no beauteous scenes are there; no sweet harmony there: but they do exist here. Why have we this admixture of destructive and benevolent forces stored up in the secret places of nature? These elements are necessary in order that the earth may be a fitting theatre for Jesus Christ to carry out His mediatorial purposes. He must have elements to appeal to man's fears, and He finds them in the destructive forces of nature. He must have elements to appeal to man's hopes, and He finds them in the benevolent forces of nature. The component parts of earth were adjusted, put together, with a view to redeeming purposes. All the elements of nature, all its laws, and all its forces have been made for Christ as Mediator, and are placed under His immediate control. He is King of kings and Lord of lords in the material world.
II. In the MENTAL WORLD Jesus Christ is King of kings. Earth has her crowned kings, monarchs surrounded with symbols of royalty; the crown, the sceptre, and the throne. The extent of their dominions varies, as does also the amount of power they wield. Some are despotic, arbitrary, and absolute; others are mild and paternal in their rule. Some are the mere tools of parties, and retain nothing akin to kingship but the symbol. While some of them happily and trustfully acknowledge the supremacy of Christ, there are others who recognise no authority higher than their own, and no power superior to their own. Nations are organised and held together, scattered or established on the one principle of subserviency to the empire of Christ. The ruling powers of earth exist for Him. Willingly or unwillingly they are His servants. Consciously or unconsciously they are carrying out His purposes. When they cease to be His instruments He often removes them, and brings others in their place. "By Me princes rule," "By Me kings reign and princes decree justice." Sceptics sneeringly say, "Your Christianity has been in the world for eighteen hundred years, and this surely is time enough for it to subdue the world. The fact that it has failed to meet with universal acceptance throughout all the ages is proof enough that it is not the Divine religion you profess it to be." Our reply is, God feels no hurry. When man strongly desires to accomplish an object he often exercises haste. He is liable to so many contingencies. Unforeseen circumstances may arise to check his progress and to defeat his purpose. But God exercises no haste, nor doubts the issue. Eternity is before Him; endless ages are waiting for Him. But there are also uncrowned kings — men who never wore a crown, perhaps never saw one; but who, nevertheless, are the true kings of society, who possess minds of kingly proportions and imperial mould, who influence and move and control minds inferior to their own. There have been the founders of false religions, the originators of errors, like Buddha, Mahomet, Sabellius, Arius; and nearer our own times men like Tom Paine, Voltaire, Gibbon, Hume; and men of our own day like Strauss and Renan. These men possess kingly intellects, and wield a kingly power over many other intellects. They have set themselves up against the kingly rule of Christ. They have inspired millions with their errors. The battle they have waged with the King of Truth is fierce and desperate. It has been going on for ages. But this we know, Jesus is unchanging and immortal. His enemies in succession die and pass away, but He never dies. Let the kings of the earth, crowned and uncrowned, social rulers and mental rulers, set themselves against God's anointed; let them join in an unhallowed conspiracy, and associate with them the whole mass of infernal powers, and rise up in rebellion against the kingly rule of Christ, all that they can do is but the menace of a puny worm against One whose frown is perdition. "The Lamb shall overcome them." A reverent universe will then bow at the feet of His victorious Majesty, and creation shall become vocal with the song, "The kingdoms of this world" have "become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever."
III. Jesus Christ is supreme in the MORAL WORLD. Men are everywhere actuated by principles, passions, purposes, motives existing within them. These inward forces are in possession of the mastery; they exercise kingship. In the language of the Scriptures, they reign, they have dominion. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." The lust of power, the lust of money, the lust of pleasure, the lust of pride, the lust of envy, are the imperial powers which control men, bringing them into vile and degrading bondage, and hurrying them into wrong doing. Evil, when thus dominant, exercises a crushing sway over its victim. Some of you have been conscious of this. Some base passion has mastered you. And after a short conflict you had to beat a retreat and own yourself again mastered. But why? Because you faced the foe in your strength. Sin has but one master, one king, the Lord Jesus Christ. He destroys the works of the devil, and it is through Him strengthening you that you can be made victorious. However mighty evil may be when enthroned in the human heart, Jesus is mightier far. He is stronger than the strong man armed. Christ while yet on earth confronted and mastered moral evil under a variety of forms and circumstances. Look at Him against the grave of Lazarus. He saw in that grave evidence of the triumph of moral evil — a proof that sin had obtained kingship over human life, and reversed the destiny of man from life to death. His tears were shed over sin and its sad results as witnessed in that sepulchre. His contest was not with death but with moral evil. But there are moral laws as well as moral forces in the world. We will just mention one or two as an illustration. One law is this: that hardness is the inevitable result of resistance. Just as the anvil becomes hardened by every stroke of the hammer, the heart of man is hardened by every resistance it offers to the Divine Word and Divine Spirit. This is not an arrangement. It is a law in God's moral empire, and this law explains to me what otherwise seems to be paradoxical in the history of Pharaoh. The penalty of hardness was inflicted by God, that is, by an inevitable law which He appointed; and in this sense it may be said that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. But, on the other hand, Pharaoh did the wrong, the penalty of which is hardness. God neither compelled nor disposed him to resist. God is responsible for the law which inflicts hardness as the penalty of resistance; but Pharaoh alone is responsible for setting that law at defiance, and thereby incurring the penalty of hardness. Another great law in the mediatorial government of Jesus is that sin is its own punishment. Where there is wrong-doing there must be suffering. That is God's law. And so we understand the declaration, "Tophet is ordained of old; the breath of the Lord doth kindle it." God affixed suffering as the penalty of wrong-doing. But the wrong-doer alone is responsible for bringing himself under the dominion of that law. God has made it a law that fire should burn. If I foolishly thrust my hand into the flame I become a sufferer under the dominion of that law. God is responsible for the law: but who is responsible for my suffering? Certainly not God, but myself alone. Why does not retribution fall at once on transgressors? It is because the Mediator reigns. He is above law, superior to law. He restrains the action of the law of retribution. He holds back the penalty. But what right has Jesus Christ to interfere with the law and to delay retribution? This right is not based on His absolute sovereignty, but on His atonement. The kingly title of the Lord Jesus is written on His vesture. What kind of a vesture is it? It is not a kingly robe, but a priestly one. He is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood. His kingship is based on sacrifice. But this restraint will only be exercised for a time. Probation being over, the impenitent will be given up to the law of retribution.
IV. In the SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE Jesus Christ is supreme. There is not a portion of the universe where His sway is not felt and confessed. There is not a locality abandoned. That dominion extends to the place of banishment, the abode of the lost. Kings many dwell in hell. Princely titles are given to them. They are designated "principalities" and "powers," "spiritual wickedness." They are masters in evil, but they are in chains. Jesus, while yet on earth, confronted some of these spiritual rulers, and proved His kingship over them by mastering them. His dominion extends also to heaven, the abode of the holy. Good spirits are subject to His kingship. "The armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (ver. 14). These constitute His retinue, accompanying Him in His march of conquest, sharing His toils, sympathising with His purposes, and aiding His triumphs. With outspread wings they are ever waiting His behests; ever ready to execute His purpose, whether of judgment or of mercy. His will is their rule, His word their law. What a pledge have we of the final triumph of truth! If Jesus is the King of all beings, all forces, all laws; if all power is given Him in heaven, earth, and hell; if He regulates and overrules all events, we need have no doubt of the issue. From the beginning He keeps one end steadily in view, the subjugation of moral evil, the destruction of the works of the devil. We have spoken to you of the kingship based on atonement, but we would remind you of the kingship based on power. The title is written not only on the priestly vesture, but also on His thigh. But why upon the thigh? The thigh is a symbol of power. It is the strongest place in a man. It is the place where the muscles congregate. The angel of the covenant touched Jacob on the thigh, and sent him limping all the way through life, to humble him, and to remind him how weak he was even in his strongest place when God touched him. Hence the kingship of Jesus is written on His thigh. Men who will not yield willing submission to His authority and the claims of His love shall be made to yield unwilling submission to His retributive justice. If the milder aspects of His kingly character fail to subdue them, He must turn upon them the sterner aspects of that character. If the kingship of the vesture fail to subdue you He must turn upon you the kingship of the thigh. If the revelation of His mercy and love fail to allure you, He must by a revelation of power break what refused to bend. We all must be the subjects of either the kingship of the vesture or the kingship of the thigh.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.