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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 4, 2013

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

This sermon is an edited and abridged version of one preached by Dr. W. A. Criswell, who was the esteemed pastor and pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for fifty-seven years, from 1944 until his death, in January 2002, at the age of 92. His sermons were electrifying. My heart was thrilled each time I heard him preach. I consider him to have been one of the three greatest preachers of the second half of the twentieth century. And I bring to you this morning an edited version of Dr. Criswell’s great sermon, “The Coming King.” Please turn in your Bibles to John 18:37, and stand for the reading of the Word of God.

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

You may be seated.

Christ is standing before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. He is a despised figure. A crown of thorns has been pushed down on His head, sending streams of Blood running down His face. His back has been beaten to a bloody pulp by the scourging of the Roman legions. With unbelief in his voice, Pilate says, “Art thou a king?” Jesus answers in the most emphatic way that the Greek language can express it, to repeat the question. “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37). Jesus is the Saviour, the Messiah, and the King!

In an unconditional covenant, the Lord God promised the land of Palestine to Abraham and to the seed of Israel forever. We read in Psalm 105,

“He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance” (Psalm 105:8-11).

The rest of the world belongs to all the other nations, but the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine, belongs to the seed of Israel, belongs to the Jewish people. It was promised by God to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob by an unconditional covenant forever.

The same Lord God said to David that he would have a son who would sit upon his throne for ever and ever, world without end. The Lord God said to David,

“And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom... And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (II Samuel 7:12, 16).

The same Lord God who promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would forever inherit the land of Canaan is the same Lord God who promised David that he would have a son who would reign over Israel forever. That coming king would be of the seed and lineage of his forefather David. The prophet Isaiah described that mighty, coming king, the Son of David,

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined... For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7).

Seven hundred and fifty years after that prophecy, the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin Jewish girl named Mary. The angel told her that she would be the mother of that foretold, foreordained Child, the coming king, the Son of David. The angel said,

“Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31-35).

Nine months later the child was born. Before the startled shepherds, in a nearby field, an angel chorus appeared and sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). The promised King of the covenant had finally come!

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, the thirty-year-old Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Through His mother Mary, He was descended from David through the line of Nathan. Through Joseph, the husband of Mary, He was legally descended from David through the line of Solomon. Both by legal right and blood inheritance Jesus was the promised King!

Upon a day, at the exact time foretold by Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, in the exact manner prophesied by Zechariah, the Lord Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem, lowly and riding upon a donkey, to present Himself as the covenant King, the Prince of Peace. As He came into the holy city of Jerusalem, the people shouted, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David!” When the scribes and Pharisees tried to stop the people from crying out, Jesus replied, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40).

It was the great covenant day in the life of the chosen people of God. It was the great consummating moment of all history. The covenant King had come, Jesus, King of the Jews. But there is more.

I. First, He is a rejected King.

Jesus stood on the witness stand in the Sanhedrin, the highest court of Israel. Before him stands the high priest who presides over the Sanhedrin. The high priest says to the Lord,

“I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:63-64).

When the Lord said that, the high priest tore his garments and turned to the Sanhedrin and said, “You have heard his blasphemy. What do you say?” They cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

At that time capital punishment had been taken from the Sanhedrin, and was given to the Roman procurator. The Jews, therefore, took the Lord Jesus to Pontius Pilate and accused Him of rebellion and treason, saying, “He says he is a king.” The Lord Jesus was standing there, so humble, so patient, so quiet. Pilate said, “He? A king?” “Yes, he says he is Christ, a King. He is guilty of treason and sedition.” Pilate said, “I will scourge him and let him go.”

So the Roman legions beat Him, and in contempt both of the Jews and this lowly Nazarene, crowned Him with thorns, put a cast-off purple robe over His shoulder, put a stick in His hand for a scepter, and scornfully bowed their knees, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.”

Pilate saw Him bloody from the awful scourging, a ridiculous figure with a crown of thorns and a dirty, ragged, cast-off robe, brought Him out before the people and said, “Behold your King!” They answered, “We have no king but Caesar. Crucify him!”

Out of fear, Pontius Pilate delivered Him to the soldiers who took Him to Calvary and crucified Him, nailing Him to a cross. But above His head Pilate wrote the accusation, “This is Jesus, a King.” The Pharisees said, “Do not write ‘This is Jesus the King.’ Write ‘This is Jesus who said He is a King.’” Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written.” Jesus was crucified as a King, and He died a King – a rejected King. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

II. Second, He is an exiled King.

When Jesus died on the cross, Satan must have rejoiced! It seems we can hear Satan crying out through the mouths of the scribes and Pharisees,

“He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:42).

I can hear Satan rejoice through the scribe, the Pharisee and the Sadducee, as they march up and down in front of Jesus as He dies on the cross.

But Satan did not know what would happen next. It was a secret kept in the heart of God that there would be an interlude, an intermission, between His death on the cross and His second coming as the King. There would be an intermission (Paul called it a “musterion,” a mystery in Ephesians 3). In that intermission would be the age of the Holy Spirit in which God would call out of the whole world a people for His own. They would be called “ekklesia,” “the called-out ones,” in our language, “the church.”

The gospel of salvation would be preached to all men everywhere. Whenever a man would turn to Jesus and believe, he also would be added to the church, the family of God. There would be one household of faith – with Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and barbarians, black and white and yellow and brown, male and female, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, all alike precious in the sight of God, belonging to the redeemed family of the Lord, a new creation called the church, the bride of Christ.

But what of the kingdom? Will there be no kingdom? Has God forgotten the kingdom? You see, Jesus is the head of the church. But He is not called the “king” of the church. There is no such wording in the New Testament. Jesus is a King over a kingdom – but will the kingdom ever come? Will Jesus ever reign over the earth?

Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, in Acts chapter one, the Disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). That was the perfect moment for Jesus to say, “There is not going to be any kingdom. There will never be a kingdom.” But Jesus did not say that to them. Instead He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power... [but] ye shall be witnesses unto me... unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7, 8). He told them to go and win souls, fill the church, gather in the redeemed. The kingdom will come, but it’s in the future. Some glorious day the kingdom will come!

III. Third, He is a coming King.

Jesus is coming in two ways. He is coming first as a thief in the night. He is coming second as a lightning bolt that splits the sky and shines from east to west. So shall the Lord Jesus come in the parousia, the apokalupsis, the great revelation of the reigning King.

First, He is coming as a thief in the night. He is coming unannounced, suddenly, quietly, secretly. He is coming as a thief to steal away His jewels. He is coming as a thief to rapture away His people. We shall all be changed. We who are alive and remain, when He comes, shall be suddenly raptured away to meet the Lord in the air.

Those who have died as Christians will rise first. The trumpet shall sound and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then all living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. We shall all be raised, and we shall all be changed. We shall be caught up to meet Christ in the air. As it was in the days of Enoch, suddenly he was gone. As it was in the days of Elijah, God took him up in a whirlwind. As it was in the days of Lot and the angel took him out before the judgments of God fell upon the earth. Thus shall Christ come, furtively, secretly, as a thief in the night, to rapture away His people before the judgments of the Great Tribulation.

Then, He is coming openly, and every eye shall see him, the parousia and the apokalupsis. As the lightning shines throughout the heavens, so the glory and the presence of Christ shall be seen. The text of the apocalypse of the revelation is Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming with His people, descending from Heaven. He is coming in the glory of God as God the Son, and the Son of God. He is coming in His own glory as the Son of Abraham, as the Son of David, as the Son of Man, as the Son of God!

He is coming as the King of the Jews. He is coming as the King of the nations. He is coming as the King of Kings. He is coming as the Lord, the Pantokrator, the Almighty God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He is coming as the re-Creator and the restorer of the earth. He is coming to be Lord and King over all creation.

Then shall be brought to pass all the sayings of the prophets such as Micah,

“And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

The Prince of Peace shall come. Then shall be brought to pass the beautiful prophecy of Isaiah,

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

The thought of the Second Coming of Christ has two responses in the human heart. One is terror. If your heart is in the world, and your life is given to vanity and sin, the thought of the coming of Christ is terrifying, as described in the sixth chapter of Revelation,

“And [they] said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17).

To those who reject Christ and live in sin, the coming of Christ is a terror. But to those who are saved, the thought of the appearance of our Saviour is of all things dear, and sweet, and precious. As the sainted Apostle John said at the close of the Book of Revelation, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be perchance that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus receives His own.

While its hosts cry Hosanna from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive His own.

Oh joy! oh delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with the Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives His own.

Oh, Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.
   (“Christ Returneth” by H. L. Turner, 1878).

Welcome King, Lord, Saviour, the blessed Jesus!

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at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Christ Returneth” (by H. L. Turner, 1878).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

(Psalm 105:8-11; II Samuel 7:12, 16; Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7;
Luke 1:31-35; 2:14; 19:40)

I.   First, He is a rejected King, Matthew 26:63-64; John 1:11.

II.  Second, He is an exiled King, Matthew 27:42; Acts 1:6, 7, 8.

III. Third, He is a coming King, Revelation 1:7; Micah 4:3;
Isaiah 11:6-9; Revelation 6:16-17; 22:20.