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Friday, November 20, 2020

Whose Kingdom is Still Here?

By Joe Chesser
 
    What a glorious morning it must have been for the Jewish leaders. Early that morning, after an all-night “trial,” they led Jesus to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. They must have felt confident as they stood outside of the palace having convicted Jesus by their “laws”. These pious leaders would not enter the palace to speak with Pilate because they would then not be able to eat the Passover (John 18.28). But they had a plan. In order to get the Roman governor’s attention, they accused Jesus of “subverting our nation,” of opposing paying taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be a king (Luke 23.2). But the fact that they were lying in order to have the guiltless Jesus executed didn’t seem to bother them at all. Their inconsistency is glaring to anyone on the side of truth and integrity. Even Pilate eventually saw through it and declared Jesus innocent of their charges (John 18.38).
    But before that, Pilate took Jesus inside the palace to question him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” At this point Jesus answered indirectly. He spoke to Pilate about his kingdom. Jesus explained that his kingdom was not of this world, but was, in fact, from another place. Of course, Pilate was thinking of one kind of kingdom and Jesus spoke of a different kind.
    The kind of kingdoms Pilate thought of had risen and fallen for millenniums. The Bible speaks of many of these kingdoms: Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Syria, and Greek.  Major world powers that all rose and fell over the course of history. Pilate himself was a part of such a kingdom, the Roman Empire, one of the greatest of all time. But Jesus was speaking of a kingdom based on truth not power, a spiritual kingdom not a political one.
    It was prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 2.44) that in the days of the Roman kingdom the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed. Even though Rome was described as “strong as iron” that would crush all the others, it too would one day fall (Daniel 2.40-43). Pilate had to feel even more confident than the Jews were feeling that Jesus could not threaten the Roman Empire. He had no idea that God’s spiritual kingdom could and would crush the mighty Romans, especially if this guy standing before was its king.
    But, as Mike Ireland asked in his devotional book, From Morning to Evening, “Well, whose kingdom is still here?” Though it took almost four centuries from the time of Jesus for the Roman Empire to fall, fall it did. During those years, while the Rome was crumbling, the kingdom of God kept growing and expanding into nation after nation, city after city.  And it’s still growing as men and women all over the globe are learning about Jesus the King and are surrendering their hearts and lives to him.
    Are we sometimes tempted to think more like Pilate than like Jesus? Are we tempted to trust in governments and authorities of this world more than in the rule of Jesus? For which kingdom are we giving our time, money and effort? Hopefully, we will listen to the truth Jesus brought and hold it in higher regard than anything else. Yes, we are to  honor the king (1 Peter 2.14). But Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of  lords (Revelation 19.16)!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


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