Jesus is a peculiar and paradoxical King.
His authority is absolute. His reign is both endless and boundless. There is not one square inch in the universe where Jesus does not lay claim. The kingdom of this Son of David is forever (2 Sam. 7:16). Not only did he partake in making all things, but he participates in sustaining all things. Our first breath was due to the creative power of the Lord Jesus and our most recent breath was due to the sustaining power of Jesus. He brings complete salvation to his people and total judgment to his enemies. Jesus is a king who reigns in glorious wonder, offering incalculable love, mercy, and grace as the Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of the universe.
Jesus’ claim to universal lordship was won through suffering. He was marked by humility and homelessness. Jesus boasted not in strength, but weakness. His disciples were not impressive, and his earthly life ended in shame, destruction, and death. In fact, the very salvation he offers comes through judgment. He faced the wrath of the very One with whom he enjoyed an eternity of uninhibited divine love. And he faced this wrath on behalf of sinners who rejected him.
Only in the arms of our paradoxical king can we find hope for our guilty, weary, and burdened souls. Anyone who has felt the burden of sin-ridden guilt knows that looking to your own abilities or a list of moral qualities to lift the weight is futile. Earning favor with God and freedom from sin will either puff you up or beat you down. But in the paradox of King Jesus’ majesty and mercy, there is hope for the most lost and depressed heart.
Puritan Richard Sibbes understood the immense joy and freedom the gospel brings to a burdened and broken heart. In his classic work, The Bruised Reed, he offers the following implications from the truth that Jesus does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax:
What should we learn from this, but to come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) in all our grievances? Shall our sins discourage us, when he appears there only for sinners? Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan’s counsel. Go to Christ. although trembling…Go to God in our flesh; he is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone for this reason, that we might go boldly to him. Never fear to go to God, since we have such a Mediator with him, who is not only our friend but our brother and husband.
Go to Christ, indeed, friends. Do you think you are not morally clean enough to approach the Lord? Good. Go to him and see that he became filthy with sin, so that you may be washed clean. Do you think that you are too socially unacceptable to go to God? Good. You are in the right position to see that the gospel doesn’t call us to become something before God accepts us, but instead that God accepts us on the basis of his grace. Hide nothing from the Lord, dear friends. Bear all before him and receive the mercy of a humble servant-king who reigns in exalted majesty.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.