His Kingdom

Jesus appeared in Galilee where he began to proclaim the Kingdom of God – “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.” In his ministry, the reign of God had begun to invade the Earth, and in earnest. However, His realm was and is of an entirely different nature than the political systems of the nations. Moreover, on more than one occasion, the Messiah of Israel refused to embrace the kind of power that dominates the governments and ideologies of this fallen age.

Satan tempted Jesus by offering him “all the kingdoms of the world.” To attain absolute power over the nations, all he needed to do was prostrate himself before the Devil and thereby declare him his Overlord.

Alpine Path - Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash
[Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash]

Jesus did
NOT dispute Satan’s “right” to dispense political power, but he refused it all the same. Instead, he submitted to the path of the Servant of the LORD described in the Book of Isaiah- (Isaiah 53:1-12, Matthew 4:8-11, Luke 4:5-7).

Satan required his submission as the price of political power. According to him, the kingdoms of this ungodly age “have been delivered to me and I give them to whomever I will.”

Though he was appointed by God to reign over the nations, Jesus refused the offer. Scripture confirmed his destiny to rule over the Earth, yet he rejected out of hand the power over others so valued by the rulers and influence peddlers of this world.

So, how could Yahweh’s designated King reign over the rebellious nations without the military and economic might of the State? Rather than resort to the political methods and philosophies of this world, Jesus embraced the way of the Cross. In the “Kingdom of God,” true victory was and is achieved through self-denial and sacrificial service - (Psalm 2:6-8).

In his realm, “greatness” is measured by acts of mercy for others, especially one’s “enemies.” Rather than threatening or dominating other men, Jesus “gave his life as a ransom for many.” His example provides his disciples with the pattern they must follow if they wish to implement God’s Kingdom on Earth, let alone rise to “greatness” in it.

The temptation in the “wilderness” was not the end of Satan’s political intrigues as he continued in his attempts to thwart Jesus from his mission. Following his rebuff by the Son of God, the “Devil departed from him until an opportune time.”

Bridge over stream - Photo by armin djuhic on Unsplash
[Photo by armin djuhic on Unsplash]

ONGOING CONFLICT


After he miraculously fed a multitude, certain members of the crowd planned “to seize him and make him king.” Yet he walked away at the very point the mob was prepared to crown him as Caesar’s rival. In doing so, Jesus turned many hearts and minds against him and his mission.

The Son of Man did not come to be a militaristic conqueror hellbent on destroying Rome though that is certainly what many of his contemporaries desired. The closer he drew to his death, the more the fickle crowds repudiated him as the Messiah of Israel. The reality of the Suffering Servant portrayed in Isaiah did not fit the popular expectation of Israel’s Deliverer - (Luke 4:13, John 6:15).

Before his execution, Pontius Pilate inquired whether Jesus was “the king of the Jews.” He did not deny his royal calling. He responded to Rome’s representative, “You say that I am a king, and for this, I was born.” Yet he qualified his kingship by stating:

  • My Kingdom is not from (ek) this world. If my kingdom was from (ek) this world, then my own officers would fight that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But now, my kingdom is not from (ek) here” - (John 18:33-36).

His Kingdom is not a strictly “spiritual” or nonpolitical realm, but the SOURCE of his sovereignty is OTHER THAN the political power that characterizes the regimes of this planet. That source is the same God “Who sends his rain on the just and the unjust,” and Who delights “in mercy, not sacrifice.”

Pilate found no fault in him and was about to release Jesus, but at the instigation of the Temple authorities, the crowd demanded that Rome’s representative release Barabbas instead, a man described as a léstés (Greek) or “brigand.” Apparently, the leaders and many of the people of Israel preferred a violent revolutionary and murderer over the Suffering Servant of Yahweh.

Contrary to the expectations of his contemporaries, Jesus “took on the form of a slave” and became “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Because of his choice, God bestowed on him “the name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth.” Moreover, his followers are summoned to adopt the very SAME MIND that he displayed when he gave his life as a “ransom for many”- (Philippians 2:6-11).

His disciple must choose between the cruciform path trod by Jesus of Nazareth or the expedient and smooth highway peddled by Satan and his earthly cohorts. Jesus declared that when he was “lifted up” on the Cross, he would “draw all men to me” - By being nailed to the Cross rather than sitting on Caesar’s throne.

Jesus summons every disciple to “deny himself, take up the cross,” and follow him on this same narrow and rough trail. It is the only road that leads to the Kingdom of God. All would-be disciples who refuse to do so will be found “unworthy” of him and unfit for citizenship in his Kingdom when he “arrives on the clouds of Heaven.”



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