Guest / Limited Access /
A Cosmic Culmination
Image: Gustave DorÉ (1832–1883)

Sometime this Christmas season, you are sure to hear those rousing words of Handel's Messiah, taken from Revelation 11:15: "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (ESV). Tradition has it that the music so moved King George II that he stood to his feet out of respect for an even greater King. The rest of the audience followed, as have audiences for generations since. The Hallelujah Chorus is the culmination of our Messiah's story, a story that Handel rightly showed was foretold by the Prophets, heralded in the Annunciation, and has at its heart a message about a king and a kingdom.

Sadly, that kingdom message is often missed in our saccharine retelling of the Christmas story. Somehow we glaze over the angel's words to Mary, that she will give birth to a son whose "kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:33). The myopia continues as we read the Gospels. We skim over pages of kingdom references. We miss Christ's inaugural address when he opens the scroll of Isaiah and proclaims that Scripture has been fulfilled in the people's hearing (Luke 4:21). We muddle through the parables that tell us repeatedly, "The kingdom of God is like …." And we glance over the very reason our Savior was crucified, a sign crudely scrawled beneath the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:19).

Along the way, the Good News is truncated. An earth-shaking, kingdom-sized announcement is reduced to a personal self-help story. Our gospel has grown too small.

So what was Jesus talking about when he came announcing a kingdom?

He was talking about the eschatological certainty that in the end, God's reign will be made manifest. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Readers Write
Your responses to the October 2010 issue of Christianity Today.
RecommendedJesus vs. Paul
Subscriber Access Only Jesus vs. Paul
Many biblical scholars have noted that Jesus preached almost exclusively about the kingdom of heaven, while Paul highlighted justification by faith—and not vice versa. What gives?
TrendingNicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.
Editor's PickKen Starr Fired? Baylor Reviews Investigation into Football Sex Scandal
Ken Starr Fired? Baylor Reviews Investigation into Football Sex Scandal
America's biggest Baptist university expected to announce changes next week.
Christianity Today
A Cosmic Culmination
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.