Jesus is the King who Rules the World Graciously through His Word and Sacraments
During this season of Advent Concordia will mediate on Psalm 72. Psalm 72 is a Messianic psalm describing Christ's Gracious Worldwide Rule through His Word and Sacraments.
Solomon begins, "Give the King thy judgments, O God, and thy
righteousness unto the King's Son." Most modern interpreters, departing from the prophet Zechariah (9:10), the ancient interpreters of the Church, the Reformers, and also the Rabbinic interpreters, believe this opening refers
to David or Solomon. But the default understanding of who is king in Israel should not be David nor Solomon, nor any other mortal king, because Christ was the King of Israel from its beginning and throughout its history. When we read of a king in the Old Testament, especially in the psalms, our first assumption should be that it refers to Christ and take it to be a mortal king only if it be plainly so.
The origin of mortal kings in Israel was Israel's sin (I Samuel 8:7). While Christ accommodated Israel's request for a mortal king for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of men, He nevertheless did not relinquish His Monarchy.
Unlike Israel's mortal kings, Christ is the immortal King who gives eternal life by reversing the effects of sin through His Gracious Rule in His Word and Sacraments. Solomon writes, "Give the King thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the King's Son." Because Christ is God's Eternally Begotten Son (Psalm 2:7), He is quite able to fashion this Gracious Rule by reversing the effects of sin by Himself bearing the sins of men and delivering them from the consequences of their sins and father them into life eternal (Isaiah 9:6).
While Solomon teaches of Christ's Deity in this verse when He teaches us that the King of Israel is God's Only-Begotten Son, He also teaches of His Incarnation when he writes, "Give the King Thy Judgments, and [give] Thy righteousness unto the King's Son." (amplification in brackets added). Of course, Christ according to His Deity can be given nothing because He is the Almighty God who possesses all things. Solomon, therefore, writes of His Incarnation when He speaks of God giving to the King of Israel Judgment and Righteousness. Christ can ever only receive something in time according to His human nature, never according to His Deity. Hence, Solomon writes, "Give the King thy judgments", because here Solomon writes of the gifts Christ received in time according to His human nature for the salvation of men. The Lutheran Church confesses: "First, there is a unanimously received rule of the entire ancient orthodox Church that what Holy Scripture testifies that Christ received in time He received not according to the divine nature (according to which He has every from eternity), but the person has received it in time ... as referring, and with respect to, according to the assumed human nature." The Formula of Concord. Thorough Declaration. Article VIII. Of the Person of Christ.57, Triglotta, p. 1035.
Christ's Righteous Judgment is Absolution. For just as condemnation is a judgment, so also is acquittal a judgment. Christ's Rule is unlike all other kings because His Judgment is the Blessed Acquittal of Absolution for all sinners. Every other king condemns those who confess to crimes. Christ, on the contrary, Absolves those who confess their sins unto them. This Blessed Judgment is the Judgment given to Christ by His Father in order to save men from their sins.
While this Blessed Judgment originated on Mt. Zion (Psalm 2:6), the Place of Christ's Crucifixion, and the Word of it went forth from there (Isaiah 2:3), the Lord makes clear in Psalm 72 one needn't travel to Mt. Zion to receive the benefits thereof because all mountains, great or small, bring the same Blessing of the Cross that Mt. Zion does. "The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness." Psalm 72:3.
Mt. Zion is obviously the Highest of All the Mountains of the Earth (Isaiah 2:2) because there our Lord died for our sins and the Good News of His Atoning Work went forth into all the world (Isaiah 2:3, St. Luke 24:47), but it doesn't mean that it is the only locale where His Salvation is found. Rather, wherever Christ's Word and Sacraments, are, mountains or little hills, there is Mt. Zion and the Blessed Fruits of His Atoning Work for us. The Rev. Dr. Francis Pieper writes: Many people to-day entertain strange ideas indeed as to the manner in which a person enters the kingdom of God; they think of pilgrimages to Palestine, to Jerusalem, and to Mount Zion. Contrary to such false views, however, we must firmly maintain that no pilgrimages or changes of location are required to come to Jerusalem or to Mount Zion in the New Testament sense. Of all those who believe in Christ Holy Scripture declares: Ye are come unto Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and Church of the First-born, which are written in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel, Heb. 12, 22-24. ... We who are assembled here in the auditorium of Concordia College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and by God's grace believe in Christ, that is to say, believe that only the blood of Christ, the Son of God, cleanses us from all sin, are actually on Mount Zion right here. The Christian World View, What is Christianity? and Other Essays, pp. 40, 41, underscore added.
Because Mt. Zion and its Blessings come to men through Christ's Word and Sacraments, then, Christ's Gracious Rule and Reign extend worldwide down through the ages through His Word and Sacraments in all places, great metropoli or the smallest hamlets (St. Matthew 18:20). Solomon writes: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (Psalm 72:8). Jesus says: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." St. Matthew 28:18, 19, 20.
He rules the world with truth and grace.
(Joy to the World, The Lord is Come, The Lutheran Hymnal, #87)
VESPERS SERMONS FOR ADVENT 2013