Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
Read: Romans 2:1 – 4:25
Relate: In his book Simply Jesus, NT Wright talks about a clash between Rome, the Jewish people, and Jesus and His followers. Wright uses the concept of a perfect storm comprised of three “winds”. The first of these winds or storms is that of Roman rule. From Augustus on, Rome talked about the good news (the “gospel”, the evangelion) of peace on earth brought about by the force of Rome’s conquering armies. It is a peace brought about by the sword and, to a large degree, it was true. By bringing equality to the petty kingdoms of the Mediterranean world all under the ever marching boot of the Roman legions, the world was a safer, less complicated place. At least, it was as long as one recognized where authority lay and to whom allegiance was due.
The second storm was that of Jewish hopes and expectations. There was a growing frenzy among Jewish nationalists as longing became hope which became a growing expectation for a new “exodus”. Those who could recognize the signs of the times knew the Messiah was coming and they were fully ready for him to overthrow Roman rule and usher Israel into it’s rightful place at the center of the world just as Pharaoh had been humbled. They had the timing right but the methodology all wrong. Within three decades after Christ’s crucifixion the conflict of these first two storms will lead to the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the diaspora of the Jews.
The third storm is what NT Wright calls “the wind of God”. When Jesus came He did not come in the way that either Rome or Jerusalem would recognize as a king. Jesus came “embodying, incarnating the return of Israel’s God to His people in power and glory.” The kingdom He ushered in was nothing like one that either culture could truly understand. In fact, His kingdom was so counter cultural that both Rome and Jerusalem would work together to destroy it. At least… they would try.
React: Jesus did come to make war, but it was simply not the type of war that the Romans or Jews could recognize. In fact, compared to the clash of kingdoms that was taking place in the spiritual realm, Pilate and the priests were nothing but a sideshow. They were irrelevant. The true conflict was that between the evil that has held each and every one of us in bondage and the liberating good that He brought to set us free. We are all subjects of one kingdom or another. Either we are slaves to sin or servants of the One true King. Which one holds our allegiance?
God, let Your Kingdom come. Reign in my heart and in my world. I understand that when You do, as You do, it is not according to my expectations or in the way I have hoped. You are still full of surprises. Give my the humility to allow You to move as You would. Give me the awareness to recognize where and how You are moving. Align my heart, mind, words and actions to Your rule.