The Kingdom & The King
Chan Gin Kai
For those among us who are disciples of Christ, we are fortunate to be part of God’s Kingdom. What are some things Jesus taught about the Kingdom?
No Kingdom Without The King
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21)
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. In case, you’re wondering if they were genuinely interested in his answer, they definitely weren’t. They didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and they asked this question to challenge and mock him.
The Jews expected a Messiah to deliver them from the rule of the Romans and establish an earthly kingdom. At that point, it has already been three years since Jesus started his ministry. His followers were mostly fishermen and peasants. He had no army to overthrow the Romans or people of significance to start a new government. The Pharisees’ question was a challenge to Jesus, to establish the new kingdom or to shut up.
The Pharisees were of course wrong in expecting a physical, observable kingdom. Jesus came to establish a Kingdom without physical borders, human army or earthly government. Our Kingdom is spiritual, and our King is Christ.
When Jesus said that the “Kingdom of God is in your midst”, he didn’t mean it in some mystical New Age sense. He was referring to himself, the King, and he was in their midst. The Pharisees couldn’t see the Kingdom because they couldn’t recognise the King. They couldn’t become part of the Kingdom without bowing to Jesus.
There is no Kingdom without the King. We can’t enjoy the wonders of the Kingdom without accepting God as our Sovereign. We can’t claim to be His subjects without submitting to His rule.
Yet so many of us defy this simple logic. We love the beauty of the Kingdom… the friends we have in church, the benefits of a loving community, and the promise of a place in Heaven. But are we willing to submit humbly to God’s sovereignty?
Look at the way we’ve been living our lives; are we pleasing ourselves or glorifying God? Listen to the requests we’ve been making in prayer; are we trying to bend God to our will or surrender to His? Think of the way we’ve been behaving in church; are we behaving like servants to God, or entitled customers?
We can’t join God’s Kingdom without having Him as our King. We need to submit to His will.
No Salvation Without Truth
Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. (Luke 17:22-24)
Jesus warned that there will be fake messiahs and false prophets, and that “we must not go running after them.” Indeed, from millennia ago to recent times, many have claimed to be the Messiah. Their teachings are absurd and their practices weird, but it is shocking that they still garner multitudes of followers.
Want to know what’s even more scary than that? Pastors who rally followers to themselves instead of leading them to Christ.
They don’t claim to be the Messiah, but they are more dangerous precisely because they don’t act in bizarre ways. Instead, they deceive with their charm, and even touch people’s lives with nice words and kind deeds. But the problem is how they build their ministries around themselves instead of God. Their followers believe their every word even when they stray away from the Bible. Their devotees respect them even when they’re obviously wrong. Their fans talk more about them than Christ.
No human being deserves the attention that Jesus does, and no man’s words are as important as his. The Bible holds the truth and provides the way to salvation. Let’s not be swayed by deceitful words.
How seriously do we strive to understand God’s words? We cannot find salvation without God’s Truth.
No Glory Without Sacrifice
For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. (Luke 17:24-25)
When the real Messiah Jesus comes again, it will be like lightning that flashes across the sky, obvious and unmistakable. Jesus will come in power and in triumph!
Jesus explained that before his victorious return, he had to suffer and be rejected. And that was what he did on the cross for all of us.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)
There was no glory without sacrifice for Jesus. Let us not expect otherwise for ourselves.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
We shouldn’t be surprised by sufferings and the need for sacrifice. The Bible warns about them and even teaches that we should rejoice nonetheless. But how do we rejoice in the face of problems? Peter explained that participating in the sufferings of Christ allows us to share in the glory of Jesus.
We should of course protect ourselves when we can. It is good to set boundaries so that we’re not taken for granted. It is also wise to have sober judgment so that we don’t burnt ourselves out. And we also have rights that we can exercise too.
But do these become excuses for us? Have we forgotten the call to sacrifice? We can’t share in Christ’s glory if we do not participate in his sufferings.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.