Earthly kings are sovereign because they have authority to make law, execute the law and judge those who violate it. King Jesus enjoys the same sovereignty in His kingdom, a kingdom that encompasses both heaven and the earth.
There is “one Lawgiver and Judge” and His name is Jesus. (James 4:12). People often make the mistake of thinking Jesus only judges in heaven, i.e. only after people die. If that were the case though, Jesus would not be sovereign because the kingdom of God encompasses both heaven and earth.
Jesus is the judge of “the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42). The Bible gives examples of Jesus judging the living. Ananias was struck dead for lying about the proceeds of a land sale he had already promised to give to the Church. (Acts 5:1-6). Herod Agrippa I, the king over Judea, allowed the Jews to praise him as a god and as a result was stricken with a disease and died. (Acts 12:20-23).
Some say Jesus does not judge the living on earth because it is apparent He does not judge every sinful act of man immediately. However, in regard to earthly kingdoms people do not contend that because the State does not punish every person who breaks the law that the king is not sovereign.
Similarly, just because Jesus does not punish all earthly violations of His law immediately does not mean He is not sovereign on the earth. Jesus does not punish immediately for every sin that is committed because He chooses to forbear judging to bring men to repentance. (Rom. 2:4). Also, if Jesus immediately punished every sin committed by man on earth, people would choose to serve Jesus because of the compulsion of His law not the compassion of His love.
Like earthly kings, Jesus also has authority to execute the law, that is, to impose conformity to the law through force, as He demonstrated when entered the temple, quoted the law and threw out the moneychangers saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robbers’ den.” (Matt. 21:12-13).
As I have blogged before, Jesus’ executive function today is generally carried out by His subordinates in the kingdom of God who exercise King Jesus’ delegated authority on the earth.
Like earthly kings, Jesus exercises supreme authority on the earth in the three areas (legislative, executive and judicial) necessary for Him to be sovereign.
By understanding Jesus’ use of the metaphor of the kingdom to describe His rule, we can understand better that rule and how the kingdom of God functions on the earth, which, I’m confident, is why Jesus chose to use the metaphor. GS