By Brooke Holt
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” - John 18:36
At this point in John’s Gospel, Jesus had been arrested and was being interrogated by Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus the question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). After some back-and-forth banter as to why Pilate was asking, Jesus did not directly answer Pilate’s question but began to teach about the nature of his kingdom. Whereas Pilate was an earthly ruler, Jesus was the ruler of a kingdom not of this world. That must have been quite perplexing to poor Pilate! If we are honest, it can still be perplexing to us, and we have read the whole story.
Pilate was entrusted with upholding peace within his province of Judea. Jesus was entrusted with bringing peace to the entire world. Pilate was under the authority of the emperor of Rome while Jesus was under the authority of his Father in heaven. Two different kingdoms with two different leaders. One kingdom was focused on a temporal peace and order while the other was focused on an eternal peace and order.
Essentially, Jesus assured Pilate that he was no threat to Rome. He had no intention of overthrowing the emperor or King Herod or even Pilate. Jesus’s reign was one of humility and submission. This kingdom of heaven was the upside-down kind of kingdom that Jesus taught about in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed were the poor, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who mourn, and the ones who were persecuted (Matthew 5:3-10). Those who were likely not esteemed in this world found themselves blessed by the Lord and to be esteemed in the kingdom of heaven.
The person and work of Jesus forced the religious leaders, the people of his day, the political leaders, and even us today to choose a kingdom—the kingdom of this world or the kingdom of heaven. It can be a costly choice to deny this world and align oneself with Jesus. The world may very well reject you, persecute you, or as they did to Jesus, crucify you. Yet, Jesus assures you that in him and in his kingdom, you will be blessed.
What kingdom are you seeking—the kingdom of Pilate or the kingdom of Jesus? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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