April 29, 2018
What do Mahatma Gandhi, William Wallace and George Washingtonall have in common? They were all famous revolutionaries. Gandhi inspired a series of the non-violent protests that led to the end of British rule in India. Wallace was a Scottish Rebel who led the uprising against England that led to Scottish independence. And Washington led the United States to gain its freedom from Great Britain. The other thing these three have in common is that they all sought the same thing: They all fought for a new way of life. One did it non-violently, the others used force. But the outcome was the same: to bring about a fundamental change for a new life.
We don’t often think of Jesus as a revolutionary or of Christianity a revolutionary movement. But there is no question that when Jesus came, he ushered in a revolution that changed our world for the better and changed lives for eternity. He is easily the most revolutionary figure who has ever walked this planet.
And it is this revolutionary life of Jesus as the King who has come to usher in His kingdom that we want to look at this morning. For there can be no serious talk about Jesus without reckoning with the idea of him as King. There can be no serious talk about Jesus’ message without reckoning with his announcement that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” His kingship is perhaps the primary thing we must know about Jesus, and it may be the most important way to see him in our lives today. You see, up till now, we’ve looked at Jesus in a number of ways: We’ve seen Him as Savior, as Lord, as Life. We’ve seen him as More than a Rabbi, as a Friend of Sinners and as a Great Leader. We’ve seen him as our Reconciler and our Rest. And we’ve seen Him as fully human and fully divine. Along we’ve learned that there really is no one quite like Jesus.
But today as we conclude our series on Jesus we’re going to see Jesus as the King of God’s Revolutionary Realm of Grace. As the King who has come to subvert the kingdoms of this world, by establishing a kingdom that not only shows us a new way to live, but shows us a King worth listening to and following. So if you brought your Bible with you today, let me encourage you to open them to Mark 1:14-15. For it is here that we see the announcement that marked Jesus’ arrival as the King. It is here we begin to see how Jesus as King has come to change everything. So if you’ve found Mark 1, lets look at
The Arrival of the King: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:14-15
“The time has come.” This was the moment every Jew had longed for. For every Jewish child learned from their parents that one day a descendent of King David would rise up to establish God’s kingdom on earth. So when Jesus said, “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near,” his words awakened their hope for this king. And many would have understood this announcement meant that God was now visiting His people to bring grace and judgment, to overthrow the rulers of this world, to establish the kingdom of Israel, to conquer sin and eradicate sickness, and to vindicate the righteous. This was their hope.
So when Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news” they heard a revolutionary call for change. Now is the time everything is going to change. Now is when God is going to make everything right. So listen to Jesusfor he may just be this King we’ve been waiting for.
This is how Jesus announces his arrival as the King. But the funny thing is, Jesus never actually calls himself the King. He simply goes around proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand, and then begins to demonstrate his authority as King by opening the eyes of the blind, healing the lame, cleansing lepers, raising the dead and proclaiming the good news to the poor. In fact, Jesus entire ministry was all about making things right, challenging the status quo and turning people back to God. Everything he said and did announced that the King had arrived, and He is that King.
But what of His kingdom? You see, when Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God has come near”what was Jesus announcing? And what does that look like? The Jews had some idea of what this was, but they were wrong. They wrongly assumed that Jesus was going to overthrow the powers that be by force. But that never happened. So they never quite got Jesus’ message. They missed it. And sometimes we miss it too. What does the kingdom of God look like? How is God breaking in and subverting the status quo in our world? We need to answer that question ourselves – because answering that question has everything to do with us getting on board with Jesus the King. So lets take a few minutes to answer that question by looking at
The Nature of His Kingdom: There is much that Scripture has to say about the nature of the kingdom, but I’ve narrowed it down to three characteristics: First of all, It is a Revolutionary Force It is the presence of God entering our realm bent on overturning the ways of this world to the ways of God.To grasp this idea of God’s kingdom as a revolutionary force, we need to go back to the Old Testament book of Daniel. At the time the book of Daniel was written, most of Israel had been taken into captivity in Babylon. At some point in their captivity King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that some of the finest students of the royal family be taken to Babylon and trained to serve in the King’s palace. Daniel was one of those young men, and he eventually rose to the top of his class and began serving in the king’s court. Then something happened. The king had a nightmare. He had dreamed of this immense statue made of all kinds of metals (gold, silver, bronze and clay). This statue was like some kind of a gigantic Frankenstein’s idol. But no one could interpret his dream. That is, until Daniel came forward to interpret it, and then shocked the King by relating the events of this dream to the rise and fall of the successive kingdoms in the future. One kingdom would come and destroy the previous one, until one day, one kingdom would come and crush them all: the glorious coming of the kingdom of God. Here’s Daniel’s interpretation: “In the time of those kings,the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rockcut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” Daniel 2:44-45 Now as a result of this interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar not only believed it to be true, but he gave credit to Daniel’s God, and exalted Daniel to a place of honor and rule in his kingdom.
This image is the picture of God’s kingdom coming as a revolutionary force! So when Jesus announced, “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near.” What every Jew heard was this: that their Messiah, this ROCK from the book of Daniel, had come to start the revolution! He had come to smash all other kingdoms, all other world views, all systems of powers and authority, religious and non-religious, so at the end of the day God would reign. Life would be good again, the way God created it to be.
This is why we need to see the arrival of the kingdom of God in the same way. Jesus wants His Church to be a revolutionary force that turns the world upside down. He wants His people too are to change the status quo. You see, too often, we want what Jesus gives us, but we don’t want to be part of changing the culture. Too often we buy into the way the world tries to bring about change. So we get caught up with politics as if “man’s solutions” are the answer. We get caught up in thinking that laws or leaders can fix what’s broken. But with Jesus announcing the revolution, he offers another way. He calls us to be a revolutionary force for good, to turn our world upside down with mercy, justice, grace and love. This is why it is so important for us to see Jesus as the King, because He is ushering in a kingdom that is not of this world. We need the ROCK. We need Jesus the King to smash all other kingdoms: all other world views, all other authorities, so that we might begin to show our broken world that there’s an alternative way of life – that man doesn’t have the answers, but God does. And that leads us to the next characteristic of God’s Kingdom:
It is an Alternative Reality Let me read what Jesus says about this in Matt 13:44-45
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
The kingdom of God is an alternative reality because it is a reality that is NOT FOUND in this world. This world values treasures and pearls, position and power. But this world’s treasures never satisfy – they only keep us on a treadmill of seeking for what we can never find. Trying to find life through the ways of this world loads us with all kinds of worries and concerns God never intended us to carry. There’s a reason we have an opiod crisis in our country, why so many try to deaden their pain with pills, marijuana or alcohol. There’s a reason University students now average over $37,000 in debt upon graduation. There’s a reason the divorce rate in our country now stands at 53%. There’s a reason the suicide rate keeps climbing – with the most significant increase with young people between the ages of 15 to 25. And that reason is that the ways of this world don’t work: the ways of this world are broken. And Jesus offers a new way.
That’ why the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field. Because nothing in this world COMPARES to the treasures of life with God. That’s why Jesus says to us: Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33
Seek first His kingdom. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, an alternative way of living. It’s the way of humility and kindness, generosity and sacrifice. The kingdom is an alternative reality, where love drives out fear, where sin’s grip is shattered, where hope fuels contentment and joy fills our hearts. That’s why we need Jesus to be King. That’s why we need to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness – because the moment you put your faith in Him, he delivers you from this broken kingdom of men and brings you into his kingdom of light, love and truth. His is a different kind of kingdom.
To get specific…It is a Realm of Grace That’s what’s pictured when the transfer of kingdoms takes place when Jesus becomes your King. Look at Colossians 1:13-14, and what it says about what God does for us when we trust in Jesus: For he has rescuedus from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. That’s why the arrival of the kingdom of God is such good news. Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We could not deliver ourselves from the guilt and penalty of sin, but Jesus could and did deliver us. We were in danger of spending eternity separated from God, but Jesus died to bring us out of the realm of darkness and into a life with Him.
And when the kingdom of God broke into your life through Jesus, he destroyed the hold Satan had over you. This Scripture spells out that you were literally DEPORTED out of the realm of darkness and were transferred into a new Kingdom. At the moment you believed, you became citizen of a new kingdom – the kingdom of the Son, the kingdom of the beloved Son. This is now your realm, your true home. It is the realm of love, or redemption, of forgiveness. And that all adds up to one thing: We are now citizens in the realm of grace. And that makes Jesus a king like no other. That makes him the King of all grace. That is why His kingdom is a revolutionary force. That’s why His kingdom is an alternative reality. It’s a realm of grace where His mercy leads us and His love keeps us. That is why Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” And with these words, we have the closest thing to what I would call…
The Confession of the King: Listen to this confession as Pilate interrogates Jesus just hours before handing him over to be crucified: Pilate thenwent 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, “Youare right in saying that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” John 18:33-37
How does this interrogation fit into what God wants us to know about Jesus the king? Simply put, Jesus was brought to Pilate by the Jews because they had no power to execute Jesus. They believed that if Pilate could see that Jesus was a political threat to Rome by claiming to be a King leading a rebellion against Rome, then Pilate could do their dirty work for them and have Jesus executed. But as soon as Jesus says that His kingdom is not of this world, their plan backfires. Jesus is not a political leader like Pilate. And his kingdom does not operate like the kingdoms of the world. Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t use force or violence. In fact, his kingdom isn’t concerned with occupied territories like Israel. For His kingdom is from another realm altogether.
Hearing this, Pilate is both relieved and provoked. Jesus is not threat to Rome, but he has confessed that indeed he is a King. So perplexed he says, “You are a king, then!”
To which Jesus answers, “You are right in saying that I am a king.” But now spells out his mission as the King saying: “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” To which Pilate responds out of bewilderment after years of political intrigue, compromise, scheming and power plays and asks with disdain,“What is truth? Then walks away from Jesus.
This is what God wants us to know about Jesus the King. That Jesus was born into this world, that Jesus’ mission among us was to bring the light of God’s truth to a world deceived by the lies of the evil one. Jesus came to testify to the truth to set us free from the dominion of darkness. Jesus came to testify to the truth so we could see life as God meant it to be. And everyone on the side of the truth listens to His voice.
This is why Jesus the King is such a revolutionary figure. He didn’t turn the world upside down with violence, but with truth. And if there were ever a time in our world where we need truth, the truth of Jesus it is now.
So the question each of us must answer this morning is this: Does Jesus speak truth? Or do we like Pilate, simply walk away and refuse to listen?
If we believe Jesus does speak truth, then there are some implications for us this morning:
First, if Jesus speaks truth, then we must learn the truths of Jesus. For it is his truths that destroy the world view of man that stands opposed God. Jesus was not captive to the worldviews that influence us. He had a perfect understanding of the kingdom of God. His truth teaches us how to live with one another, to love one another and live a life of grace and truth like Him. Everything Jesus taught he learned from the Father so he could pass on to us. That’s why He calls us to make disciples of Jesus. So we can learn the truths that will set us free and pass those truths on to others. This is why we have Journey Groups. So we might learn from Jesus how to live and love like Jesus.
Second, if everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus, then developing “ears to hear” His voice is imperative for us. We live in a world full of voices constantly bombarding us with untruths. So part of developing ears to hear begins by guarding our hearts and minds in Christ. By taking every thought captive to Christ. As Paul has written: Do not conform to the pattern of this world any longer, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 So if Jesus has the truth, Jesus is the truth and came to testify to the truth, then we need to listen to His voice.
And finally, if Jesus is the King, then we must become kingdom subjects. Embrace your identity as a citizen of His kingdom. You are not of this world any more than Jesus is. So don’t become so at home in this world that no one knows that you are any different then they are. The kingdom of God is near. So repent and believe the good news so that you might become the revolutionary change of grace that our world needs. That’s why Jesus must be King in our lives, so that we might listen to His truth and live it.