King of Kings and Lord of Lords

“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’” (Revelation 19:16, NASB)

Adorning the stairway wall of the main academic building on campus is a large etched glass print with these words: “All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all.”  We usually sing this hymn at the opening and closing of the school year. In fact, the 2011 commencement program refers to it as “the seminary hymn.” The inspiration for this hymn comes in part from this passage in Revelation that portrays Jesus crowned with “many crowns” (19:12).

The theme of Jesus as King is a particular feature of the first and last book of the New Testament. Matthew records the visit of the magi from the East, seeking “the one who has been born king of the Jews. We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). They found him in Bethlehem and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (2:11). They were surely right to recognize him as the king of the Jews, the long-awaited Son of David, the fulfillment of Israel’s promised Messiah. He was that, but He was much more. As the voices in heaven declare in the last book of the New Testament: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

These words have become a special part of the Christmas season as the choral refrain in Handel’s wonderful oratorio, “Messiah.” In addition to the words of Revelation 11:15, the “Hallelujah Chorus” uses the words of Revelation 19:16, “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” to great effect. The pitch rises as the choir sings the fourfold refrain, “King of kings! And Lord of lords!” and culminates in a fivefold “Hallelujah!” It is little wonder that for over 250 years audiences have risen to stand as the chorus is sung. It is the anticipation of a coming day when “a great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” will stand before the throne in celebration of God’s salvation (Revelation 7:9–10). How blessed to be a part of that company on that wonderful day. Hallelujah!