Advent Midweek 3
Kingdom of Glory
December 16, 2015
Trinity Lutheran Church – New Haven, MO
In the name of + Jesus.
Who is this King of glory? (Ps 24:8). Though Christ is indeed King of all creation by virtue of His Almighty power, His reign of power and Law and punishment is transformed by His gracious reign in the flesh. The King who is robed in mockery, crowned with thorns, and enthroned on a cross is the King who establishes a gracious reign, not of laws and punishments, but of gifts and grace. He Himself paid for the wrongs of His people and established a peculiar kingdom in the Church. In this Kingdom, our King rules through His means of grace—preaching repentance unto the forgiveness of sins, washing sinners clean with water and His Word, feeding them with His body and blood for their forgiveness.
Yet every day for two millennia this Kingdom of Grace still prays, Thy kingdom come. What does this mean? God’s kingdom certainly comes without out prayers, but we pray in this petition that it would come among us also. But how does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.
God’s Kingdom of grace is certainly here in time. Wherever the King speaks, wherever He washes sinners, wherever He blesses bread and wine with His Word and prayer, the Kingdom of God certainly comes. That’s how the Holy Spirit has chosen to come to us. We can see the means, but this Kingdom itself is a hidden kingdom. It’s an article of faith, not of sight. A person may eat the bread and drink the wine, but you cannot see if she receives Jesus’ body and blood to her benefit or to her judgment. This kingdom does not come with observation, but it is within you, even as faith is within you.
Who is this King of glory? Glory is a word that Christians use a lot (because the Bible uses it a lot), but don’t often use very well. Glory means more than splendor, majesty, strength. It’s more than impressive clothing or an expensive office building. Glory means revelation. God’s glory is His visible presence. In the Old Testament, His glory was fire and cloud. It was how you knew God was present with His people and in His temple.
But now that glory is found in the flesh of Jesus Christ. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father (Jn 1:14). This glory now sits at God’s right hand in heaven to graciously rule over His Kingdom of Grace. But there is a third Kingdom that has not yet been revealed.
The Kingdom of Glory is the Kingdom that is yet to come. It will be revealed when the King returns with power and great glory. Then faith will end because Christ the King will show Himself visibly. He will judge the living and the dead and separate the sheep from the goats, that is, He will gather to Himself the righteous by faith, and exclude those who trusted in themselves for righteousness.
In a sense, this Kingdom extends over the same people as the Kingdom of Grace. Only the elect are truly citizens of this Kingdom, though in this life there are many who masquerade as sons of righteousness, who play the part of Christian, but whose trust is only in themselves. The word that Jesus uses for such people is hypocrite—play actors. This is exactly the opposite of how the world uses the word. The world calls anyone who believes the right thing and does the wrong thing a hypocrite. But Jesus calls a hypocrite anyone who does the right thing but believes the wrong thing.
In the Kingdom that is to come, even hypocrites will be revealed for who they are. But it’s not just the vindication of the revelation of who’s a sheep and who’s a goat, there’s the revelation of who and what we are as well. St. John writes, Beloved, we are children of God now, but it is not yet revealed what we will be. We know that when He appears we will be like Him, because we will see His as He is (Jn 3:2).
In this Kingdom of Glory, you will also be glorified. Not that you will be changed substantially or become something totally different. You will not turn into an angel, though angels are certainly part of the Kingdom of Glory. You will be revealed for what God intended you to be in the beginning. You will be glorified.
What will this look like? No one can tell for sure because we only know what we are right now, what we see in the mirror. The glory of the coming kingdom is an article of faith in a promise that is yet to come. Faith in a future promise is called hope. And as St. Paul writes to the Romans, We are saved by hope. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes in what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we wait with eager expectation (Rom 8:24-25).
The glory that awaits us is on account of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has elevated our humanity through resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven. Our future glory derives from our King of Glory, who is shown to be the Son of God, and the final sacrifice for sinful men. When He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead, He will bring with Him His Kingdom of Glory. It is an eternal kingdom where we will have a perfect knowledge of God. His image will be fully restored once again.
In the name of + Jesus.
Jacob W Ehrhard