Saturday, February 10, 2024

His Kingdom

When Jesus first appeared in Galilee, he proclaimed the “Kingdom of God” – “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand.” In his ministry, God’s reign began to invade the Earth. But his realm was of an entirely different nature to the political systems of this world. On more than one occasion, he refused THAT kind of political power, especially when it was offered by Satan who tempted him with rulership over “all the kingdoms of the world.”

According to the Gospel of Matthew, for him to attain absolute power, all the Messiah must do is “render homage” to the Devil and acknowledge his overlordship.

Cross at Dusk - Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash
[Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash]

Most remarkably, Jesus did 
NOT dispute Satan’s “right” to dispense political power, though he refused it all the same. Instead, he submitted to the path of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. His ministry would culminate in his death on a Roman cross - (Matthew 4:8-11, Luke 4:5-7).

In this fallen world, the price of political power is submission to Satan’s authority. According to him, the kingdoms of this age “have been delivered to me and I give them to whomever I will.”

Jesus refused this satanic offer. Scripture confirmed his calling to reign over the nations, yet he rejected the kind of political power valued so highly by the rulers of this age. However, how could God’s designated king reign over rebellious nations and peoples without the military and economic might of the State? - (Psalm 2:6-8).

In the four gospel accounts, rather than resort to the political means of this age, Jesus embraced the way of the Cross. In the “Kingdom of God,” true victory is achieved through self-denial and sacrifice, and “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.”

However, the temptation in the “wilderness” was not the end of Satan’s political intrigues. Following his rebuff, “the Devil departed from him until an opportune time.”

After miraculously feeding a multitude in Galilee, certain members of the crowd planned “to come and seize him to make him king.” But Jesus walked away at the very point the mob was determined to crown him, and this turned many minds against him.


The Son of Man would not become the militaristic messiah hellbent on destroying Rome that so many of his contemporaries craved. The closer he came to death, the more the fickle crowds rejected him as their Messiah. A “Suffering Servant” did not fit their concept of royalty and kingship - (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 kingly position, and he responded to Rome’s representative - “You say that I am a king, and for this, I was born.” But he qualified his kingship by stating that “my Kingdom is not FROM (ek) this world - (John 18:33-36).

This did not mean his domain was strictly “spiritual” or otherworldly, or that his Messianic program was nonpolitical. However, the source of his sovereignty was other than the political power that characterizes the existing world order.

His death on the Cross is the source of light and redemption in this world, not the might of Rome, and his Kingdom is ruled by the “slain Lamb,” not Caesar.

Pilate found no fault in him, but at the instigation of the Temple authorities, the crowd demanded that he release Barabbas instead, a man described in the gospels as a léstés (Greek) or “brigand.” The priestly leaders of Israel preferred a violent political revolutionary to 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” - (Philippians 2:6-11).

Ocean sunset - Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash
[Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash]

His followers are summoned to live by the
 same mindset displayed by Jesus when he gave his life as a “ransom for many.” Their choice is between his cruciform and rough path or the expedient and smooth highway of Satan. The Lord declared that when he was “lifted up” on the cross, he would “draw all men to me,” not by seating himself on Caesar’s bloody throne.

The Nazarene is summoning all men and women to “deny themselves, take up the cross,” and follow his example and thus reflect his light in this dark world. The way of the Cross is the only one that leads to citizenship in the Kingdom of God and the defeat of evil. All those who refuse to emulate his example are “unworthy” of him and unfit for his Kingdom.

  • Son of David - (Jesus is the son of David and heir to the Messianic Throne, the beloved Son of God, and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh)
  • The Son of Man - (The one like a Son of Man in Daniel is the source of Christ’s self-designation as the Son of Man and his authority)