The Return of the King
By Anthony Casperson
With a title like that, how can I not talk about Tolkien’s masterpiece?
In the Lord of the Rings series, the remnants of the kingly sword Narsil remained in Rivendell. This sword was the symbol of the one who struck down Sauron. In the breaking of the sword, it’s master (Elendil) used the remnants to stop Sauron for a time.
During the time of the War for the Ring, the sword and symbol of Elendil’s line was reforged. Given to Elendil’s descendant, Aragorn, it was renamed Anduril. This sword carried with it great authority. The one who wielded it could command the Dead Men of Dunharrow, who owed a debt to the line of Gondor’s kings.
The sword itself showed Aragorn’s right to reign over the people of Gondor. And a great many of the now-returned Sauron’s armies fell to it. Though Aragorn always had the right to be king, it was the reforging of the sword that symbolized the return of the king.
As we finish our time looking through the “I Am” statements of Jesus in the writings of John, we come to Rev. 22:16. “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
At the heels of the book of Revelation, this statement from Jesus reminds us of his coming final victory as King of kings. This idea of Jesus being both the root and descendant of David is strange. Jesus is both the progenitor of the kingly line of Israel and the final, eternal King of the line.
Talking about being the root, Jesus reminds us that the whole of history leads to the future moment recorded in Revelation. God had been laying his plans of salvation from the beginning of the world. And at the very center of it, the spark that begins the whole process, is the second Person of the Trinity, the one who became enfleshed in humanity, Jesus.
The whole nation of Israel and their kingly line flowing through David had been planned long ago, because God had planned the life of Jesus, a physical descendant of David, to bring about salvation. The line of David was meant to bring forth the future King Jesus. It is for the purpose of Jesus being King that the whole line of David exists. And yet, it is only through the bloodline of David that Jesus could have the right to reign.
And it is this right that makes Jesus the “bright morning star.” The only other time in the New Testament that this word is used is found in Rev. 2:26-28. Here, Jesus speaks to the church in Thyatira. In his promise to them, he says that the one who overcomes, those who gain victory by standing firm in Jesus, will be given authority. They will be given the morning star.
The morning star is the symbol of authority. Interestingly, if we go back to Anduril for a second. The name Anduril means “Flame of the West,” which can be literally translated as “brilliant sunset.” I think Tolkien’s naming of the symbol of the kingly line as the “bright evening star” comes as homage to Jesus as the “bright morning star.”
Jesus is the reason for the kingly line, the great and final King, and symbol of that very authority all wrapped up in one. He is the conquering King, returned to lay claim to the right he had all along.
This final “I Am” statement is Jesus saying, “The King has returned. Every enemy has been defeated. And I now bring peace to my people.”
“I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Long live the King!