“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem didn’t want Jesus as their king. They brought him to the Roman governor, Pilate, and he played that up for what it was worth. Though he could not find a reason to charge Jesus, Pilate went along with the people and sentenced him to death anyway. As a final taunt, Pilate placed a sign on the cross: jesus of nazareth: the king of the jews.
Pilate sparred with Jesus about it too: “You’re the king of the Jews, right?” Jesus refused the bait: “You think a king has sword-wielding soldiers at his command. But my kingdom isn’t like that.”
You wouldn’t know it from looking at the church, though. The church long ago made peace with the kingdoms of this world. The church even sent its children to war in the name of the kingdoms of this world. But Jesus said his kingdom is “not from this world.” (That’s a better translation than “not of this world.”) The way of his kingdom is not borrowed from Rome or any other kingdom.
The way of Jesus’ kingdom is mercy, not brutality; joy, not misery; reconciliation, not enmity. The way of his kingdom doesn’t destroy a village in order to save it. Instead the King himself endures destruction in order to save the world.
The kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. God’s kingdom is not from this world but from the world to come.
Forgive your church, Lord Jesus. We forsake the way of your kingdom too easily and in too many ways. Have mercy on us, we pray. Amen.
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