Behind the Song: Jesus Reigns

Behind the Song: Jesus Reigns

Jon Egan

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By Kevin Davis with Jon Egan


Known for their Church anthems "I Am Free," "Overcome," "Rescue," "Great I Am" and "My Savior Lives," New Life Worship's latest collection of live worship songs Strong God is loaded with more congregation-friendly and anointed worship offerings. We've been singing many of their songs at my church, and the universal truths of their songs consistently resonate with me as I also adopt the words and sentiments as my own prayers and supplications to my King and Savior, Jesus.

This collection of participatory live worship includes a couple of songs ("Strong God" and "All to Him") that also appear on the latest Desperation Band studio album Center of it All. Those have been in heavy rotation for me in my personal devotional time with the Lord, along with the stirring opening song "Jesus Reigns," which has become one of my favorite songs for the Church this past year. I had the great opportunity to speak with New Life Worship's Jon Egan about the song.


Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.

This song is rather simple. That was the goal. In this day and age, I'm very involved in my church and lead worship all the time. It is very interesting to watch the worshippers respond. It is kind of like their spirits are voting every week regarding what they are spiritually longing to sing. I notice with our church that when we declare the greatness of God, they come alive. I love it! There's room and space to sing about your weakness, and our humanity. It's funny, but as we declare the greatness of God, our weakness and our humanity are addressed even more so compared to His greatness.

This song is in the vein of the songs "Strong God" and "Magnified." It was shortly after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and our church has also had experience with a shooting. We could relate and connect to that— I have a kindergarten age child. It was an awful, senseless day. I was praying and thinking about our fear and asking God for what is true. What do we say? The sense that I got was "even if it is a whisper, a sense or a groaning, or you are lying face down on the floor, my prayer is that you are always able to be able to let out these two words that will always be true: Jesus reigns." 

It is true now, and it will always be true. Living in a day where people ask what is true, that is true. My thought was to put simply those two words into song to declare that truth. The whole set-up of the song is based on those words, and it is speaking about how from the oceans, to the city gates, from border to border, from the heights to the depths, there is something that will never fail. I wanted to declare it, which is why we say in the song "we declare, we declare Jesus reigns." Then we say "over death, over hell, over fear."

Declaring the strength of God is not to focus on your weakness, but is the best way to address your weakness. You are singing to your brokenness and humanity and saying that there is a greater and deeper and higher reality reigning over things that plague us like fear and death. It has been awesome to declare that. The other section is declaring that there is power in His name, and we're going to lift it up and lift it high.


Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Psalm 63:11(NKJV): "But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped."

Revelation 1:18(NKJV): "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death."


What is the takeaway message? 

It is really centered. Every moment and every line and phrase of the song points to the two words: Jesus reigns. 

I often tell our Church that they can shout it, whisper it, grunt it, but the truth of those words is what is going to bring healing and restoration. Of all things, Jesus reigns. He reigns now, and He will reign. It is the power of the song, and it unifies us where we can declare truth together.

We have had a lot of talks in our church about being intentional with the messages of our songs. We've talked about how if I described my wife as being awesome and I love her, that wouldn't help you know how to find her. We feel the same applies in our worship of Jesus, not only for non-believers but also for new believers and long-time believers. We want people to be able to recognize Jesus in our songs. We want to describe Him and call Him out by name. When people say ask who He is, we want people to be able to have words to explain about Him.

C.S. Lewis has this awesome quote I'll paraphrase that says we constantly need to be reminded what we believe. We can't just make assumptions. Let's declare we know and what we believe. Let's be clear who we are declaring to. Worship declares what is here and is coming, the restoration of all things. Jesus is a Redeemer. Worship helps tap into that Truth. I love that idea in Psalm 63 that praise silences lies and the fears of today. That's worship. We need to write songs in a way that is confident of that. We are a people of hope. We hope for a day that is coming when everything will be right.


From Behind the Song with Kevin Davis (courtesy of New Release Tuesday)

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