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Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Folk theology in Western Christianity often misunderstands Jesus. We usually find our understanding somewhere between the two poles of “Jesus is a super hero and therefore unlike me,” or “Jesus is my homeboy.” These two poles are High Christology and low Christology. Given the growing number of “nones,” “dones,” and “regular attenders (who only attend worship twice a month and do not participate in any organized discipleship)” my guess is that most of the North American population has a low view of Christ. We find this low christology in the ironic “Buddy Jesus” of Dogma or the “Jesus is my BFF” of Urban Outfitters.

Daniel’s passage, when read eschatologically provides a necessary corrective to an underground understanding of Jesus. Perhaps it can elevate Jesus at least to being resurrected, if not all the way properly seated at the right hand of God the Father. For that is what this text is supposed to do for us.

For most of church history, Christians have read Daniel 7 as though it is already been fulfilled. When we read through the Pauline corpus we find a very high Christology. In Romans Paul places Jesus as resurrected with power.[1] Paul clearly wants the Romans to know from the get go that Jesus is empowered in his resurrection. This power signifies that Jesus is still active in the world, even though Jesus is not present. Then in Ephesians 1:20-22 we read “God[f] put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.  And he has put all things under his feet.” Apparently Paul believed that everything is already under Jesus’ dominion.

This should not surprise us as even kenotic Jesus is elevated once again. As Philippians 2 says:

who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God has exalted Jesus above all other names, the kneeling before him is an indication of Jesus’ ruling power.

And other New Testament writings evidence Jesus’ kingly nature when they say that Jesus sits at the right hand of God as found in Acts 2:33, 7:55-56, Hebrews 1:3, 8:10, 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22, Revelation 3:21 among many other Epistles.

We would be remiss to skip the Gospels which all give testimony to Jesus’ kingship. The synoptics make this abundantly clear. Before Jesus is born Gabriel tells Mary, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[2] Then when the Magi come to visit Jesus, they tell Herod that they have come to find the one born King of the Jews. This causes Herod so much fear that he kills the children in and around Bethlehem.[3]

Jesus’ life reveals that he has come with power, so much so that the people begin to believe that he should be king. At one point they tried to make him king by force.[4] Jesus escapes, but when he enters Jerusalem before the passover, the population recognizes again that Jesus is king. As he triumphal enters Jerusalem, the people lay down branches and cloaks saying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This is a re-interpretation of Jehu’s coup d’etat. 2 Kings 9:13 says that when Jehu was proclaimed king,”Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare[ steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’ “ Taking their cloaks off was no accident. The people knew Jesus was king.

When pressed by Pilate about his identity Jesus finally admitted that he is King.[5] This caused the soldiers to mock Jesus with the crown of thorns. And to tell others exactly what Jesus’ crime was, Pilate affixed a sign on the cross which said, “The King of the Jews.”[6]

This listing of evidence of Jesus’ kingship is by no means exhaustive, but somehow Christians have failed to see that Jesus is king. Not just that he was a king or that he will be King. Jesus is King today, right now. I suspect that many in our churches do not believe that Jesus is ruling. They believe that Jesus will one day rule, after the tribulation He will set up his millennial kingdom, but he isn’t ruling yet. The testimony of scripture says otherwise.

To make sure that we recognize Jesus’ high status, Matthew has Jesus telling us “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This does not say that it will be given to Jesus, but that 2000 years ago Jesus was given all authority in heaven and earth.

The prophecy found in Daniel 7 has been fulfilled in Jesus. The One like a human being has come. And “To him [God has] given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

This Sunday was established after World War 1 when the so called “Christian West” decided that their citizenship in the Kingdom of God was subjected to their nationality. They erected the dividing walls again and allowed entangling alliances to cause them to kill. In one of the darkest days, the soldiers in the trenches had what is called the “Christmas Truce.” Germans, British, and French came up out of their trenches to celebrate Weinachts, Noel, Christmas. Some were found singing Stille Nacht, “Silent Night” or “Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes,” better known here as “Angels We Have Heard on High.” After celebrating the birth of the King of the Jews, these brothers in Christ resumed killing each other.

Pope Puis XI was correct in establishing this holiday. As new forms of nationalism arise, and so called “Christian” leaders tell us ““I don’t look to the teachings of Jesus for what my political beliefs should be.”[7] We need to be reminded that Jesus is King and that His Kingdom has begun.

At times our people will find this hard to believe for the world so often looks like it is becoming darker and darker. Jesus has taught us “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed: nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”[8] N.T. Wright argues that “among you” is not active enough a translation. “it doesn’t just tell you where the kingdom is; it tells you that you’ve got to do something about it. It is ‘within your grasp’; it is confronting you with a decision, the decision to believe, trust, and follow Jesus.”[9]

Jesus is King, Jesus’ Kingdom has already begun, and those who are in Christ are now a part of that kingdom. Colossians 1:3 affirms this by saying, “He rescued us from the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” If you read today’s passage from Revelation, you will see that t