Kingdom Rule and Reign
“Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, `What charges are you bringing against this man?
“If he were not a criminal,’ they replied, `we would not have handed him over to you.’
“Pilate said, `Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’
“`But we have no right to execute anyone,’ they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
“Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, `Are you the king of the Jews?’
“`Is that your own idea,’ Jesus asked, `or did others talk to you about me?’
“`Am I a Jew?’ Pilate replied. `Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?’
“Jesus said, `My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’
“`You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.
“Jesus answered, `You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’
“`What is truth?’ retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, `I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release `the king of the Jews’?’
“They shouted back, `No not him! Give us Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.” (John 18: 28 – 40 NIV)
I have quoted the appearance of Jesus before Pilate from John’s Gospel to make four points:
- The Roman governor Pilate recognized Jesus as the king of the Jews.
- Jesus declared that His kingdom is not of this world.
- Jesus declared that His kingdom is from another place.
- Jesus declared that His kingdom is not something to be physically defended or fought for in battle.
The conclusion that Jesus made is that only the truth will bring about the kingdom. I know that I am either “preaching to the choir,” as they say; or you will not understand at all what I am saying. From Jesus’ presentation of the principles of the kingdom of God in parables it is obvious that those to whom the kingdom of God is to be revealed by the Holy Spirit will “get it;” all others will not understand no matter how carefully we speak or write.
“The seventh angle sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
`The kingdom of the world
has become the kingdom of our Lord
And of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’
And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones
before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
And have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
And your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small --
And for destroying those who destroy the earth.’
"Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within was seen the ark of the covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe thunderstorm." (Revelation 11: 15 - 19 NIV)
Both the Christian attempts at establishing a physical kingdom of God and the Muslim attempts to establish an Islamic “Caliphate” are false attempts of mankind to force religious doctrine upon others at the point of the sword. Jesus’ kingdom is not established by such means but by the dissemination of truth. The word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, proceeds from the mouth of Christ. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom and is established by words which are life and truth.
I have for a long time maintained that the vision that John saw and recorded in Revelation is in large measure a glance into the spiritual realm all around us. We cannot ignore that some of what John saw is future; but much of his vision is what is happening now or has happened in the past.
Today the false attempt by the devil to imitate both the Law of Moses and the Christian kingdom of God has resulted in the Islamic concept of establishing Muslim rule throughout the earth and bring about the end of the world through physical means.
Concerning the kingdom of God we do not want to make the same mistake that the disciples made when Jesus was among us both before and after the resurrection. There was, and still is, a strong tendency on the part of mankind to want power to overcome and control of events to be in our hands. The disciples envisioned Jesus, as the Messiah, to be a warrior king and overthrow the kingdoms of the world and rule and reign on earth. This is a normal tendency of man and has been displayed through the centuries by Christians fighting physically to take over territory for the kingdom. Much of the warfare in Europe during the Middle Ages was about making a physical kingdom of God on earth. The Crusades to “re-take” the Holy Land was about the concept of a physical kingdom.