Living Under the Weight of the World

R C Sproul | Nov 14, 2023

Do you ever feel like you carry the world on your shoulders? The image comes from a Greek mythological figure named Atlas, who literally bears the world on his back. You’ll find statues of him in art galleries and stately homes. He’s hunched over, muscles straining, face serious, and on his shoulders sits the entire globe.

We recognize ourselves in that image; we know the strain of carrying responsibilities in our families or at work, or the burden of worry about our nation or our world. Sometimes it’s like we bear the world on our shoulders, and we can’t see how we can ever be free.

Upon His Shoulder

But Isaiah’s famous prophecy reminds us whose shoulders the burden of the world is actually on.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 

and the government shall be upon his shoulders.” 

(Isaiah 9:6) 

In the context of Isaiah’s prophecy, this king will be born for God’s chosen people. It’s the government of Israel he’ll carry on his shoulders. So this is not simply the joyful announcement of a particular set of parents, celebrating the impending birth of their baby. This is a child that is to be born for the nation: “to us.” 

But Jesus is not simply the king of Israel. He is the “King of kings” and “Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). This particular word structure means more than that Jesus has a position of authority by which he rules over lesser kings. It also indicates the supremacy of Jesus in his monarchical majesty. He is King in the highest possible sense of kingship—and his realm is all creation. 

Jesus is not simply the king of Israel. He is the “King of kings” and “Lord of lords”

Jesus is Lord

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes that after his ascension, Jesus was given the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9). The name that he has been given rises above all other titles that anyone can receive—because it is a name that is reserved for God. “Jesus Christ is Lord” (v 11). This is God’s title, Adonai, which means “the one who is absolutely sovereign.” Again, this title is one of supreme governorship for the one who is the King of all of the earth. 

The King is already in place. Jesus has already received all authority on heaven and on earth. That means that at this very moment, the supreme authority over the kingdoms of this world and over the entire cosmos is in the hands of King Jesus. There is no inch of real estate and no symbol of power in this world that is not under his ownership and his rule at this very moment. Thus Isaiah goes on:

“Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

(Isaiah 9:7) 

Giving Our Burdens to Jesus

Wherever we are in the world, we live under a government ruled by Jesus. It’s on his shoulders that the whole world rests.

It’s easy to put our hope in earthly governments to bring justice and peace. Politics is in the news every day; it’s hard not to think about it. With every fresh election, with every new bill or law, so many people’s hopes are established, and so many others’ hopes are dashed. But the rule of the world isn’t on earthly politicians’ shoulders any more than it is on ours.

In this Christmas season, take some time to think about politics in a different way. What the New Testament tells us is that right now, the person who is the chief executive officer in the cosmos—the person who has ascended to the highest political position in the universe—is this child who was born, the Son who was given to us. 

We’re under local government and we’re under national government—but all these governments are ultimately still under the dominion of Christ. Right now, today, wherever we are in the world, we live under a government ruled by Jesus. It’s on his shoulders that the whole world rests. 

What burdens do you need to give to Jesus today— whether personal, national, or global? 

This is an extract taken from The Advent of Glory by R.C. Sproul. This book of 24 devotions, edited from talks given by much-loved Bible teacher, Dr R.C. Sproul, delves into the details of the Christmas story and reflects on how these impact our lives now. Get your copy now, ready for the start of advent

The Advent of Glory

The Advent of Glory


Daily Advent devotions that will help you to slow down and appreciate the wonder of Christmas.

R C Sproul

R.C. Sproul was a pastor and theologian widely recognized for his passion for Scripture. He was the founder of Ligonier Ministries, and his daily radio program, Renewing Your Mind, is still broadcast around the world. He was the author of over 100 books, including The Holiness of God and What Is Reformed Theology? He died in 2017.

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