I’ve so appreciated the sermons that Pastor Jones and Pastor Bennett have preached these past three Sundays on the Kingship of Jesus. With regular inundation of pandemic statistics, governmental chaos, and disheartening displays of public insurrection, I need to be reminded that Jesus reigns. But grasping and appropriating His rule and dominion is not for the faint of heart or mind.
In His earthly ministry, Jesus proclaimed the reign of God and the kingdom of heaven as if it were a conviction. He wanted even the simplest to get his mind around it. But simplicity was not what hearers always walked away with. With levels of difference, He said that this kingdom was approaching, that it was here, that it was among us, that we needed to enter it, that we need to wait for it, that we desperately need the One who reigns within it. The tension within those realities turned the clarity of each individual picture into a seemingly ambiguous portrait. He insisted that the kingdom “has come near you,” yet He prayed, “Thy kingdom come.” (Matthew 6.10) Paul too described the placement of believers in the kingdom as something established: “God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Colossians 1.13) The writer of Hebrews described the kingdom as an ongoing gift we accept: “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12.28) To make matters more complex, Jesus also assigned the kingdom imagery such as a mustard seed, a treasure in a field, and a great banquet… among others. The kingdom of God presses us to inquire. What is the nature of this kingdom? Can it be all these things? Who is this messenger? And what kind of message requires the messenger to pour out His very life to tell it? Whatever this kingdom is, it unmistakably introduces us to a world far different from the one around us—one we cannot quite get our minds around. It is a kingdom that tells a story grand enough to master all other narratives. It is a kingdom with a King whose authority exposes our idols and reforms our thinking with great and surprising reversals of reality.
In this kingdom, Jesus proclaims we are shown a God who opens the eyes of the blind and raises the dead, who claims the last will be the first, and the servant is the greatest, but His proclamations did not cease with mere easy words. Jesus put these claims into action, placing this kingdom before us in such a way that forbids us to see any of it as mere religion, gullibility, or sentimentality: (Cf. Luke 23.1-23)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him (Jesus) before Pilate … They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”… but they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.
Jesus’ way was strewn with signs of the authority of another kingdom, yet His road led to death and humiliation. And yet … this Man is still “misleading” nations. The kingdom He proclaimed in life and in death continues to unravel our own notions.
In this world of, oh so much distraction, there sounds a clarion call for a new means of perception. Living somewhere between this kingdom of God’s reign and the familiar kingdom of earth, some of us never fully see or live in either. Still others somehow find themselves moved beyond the familiar borders of the world they know to the very threshold of the kingdom of God ; they long to see its fullness, still relishing in the here and now, and they discover more and more the One who reigns.
~ Pastor Mullinax