Key verse: John 18:36
Big idea: The Son of God's Kingdom is not of this world.
Today's reading centers on the trial of Jesus. Pilate is trying to determine if Jesus is a threat to his own power (about the only thing Pilate cares about) and is inquiring about the charge that He is the King of the Jews. Jesus does not answer His question directly, because Pilate would not understand it. Instead, He explains that His Kingdom is not of this world. It is a different kind of kingdom, with a different origin, a different scope, and a different methodology. If Jesus were a King like Caesar, His followers would have taken up arms to fight. But His followers stood back at His request, as He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. His Kingdom is not a Kingdom that grows by killing but by dying. The kingdoms of this world are all about what they can take, but our King is looking to give.
He is a threat to Pilate. Just not in the way that the prefect imagines. Jesus is undermining the whole system of greed and violence on which Pilate has built His life. The Son of God is establishing a Kingdom which shall not pass away. On the tail end of another election, this should stop us in our tracks. Jesus is not ever going to be represented in the US or even there modern state of Israel. In this era, He is building a different kind of Kingdom, with people of every tribe, tongue, and nation. If His kingdom were of this world, we might try to create a nation that would enforce church attendance, ban blasphemy, and collect offerings by taxation. But His Kingdom is not of this world! If it were His servants would fight instead of praying and coerce instead of testifying. Buy we are called to serve Him in His way, for His glory.
Discussion idea: From relatively early in history, Christians have regularly tried to fuse church and state. Why is this temptation so powerful? Why does it misunderstand what Jesus is doing?
Prayer focus: Identify some areas in your life -specifically - where you are operating in a worldly way instead of following the pattern Jesus has laid out. Pray for God to change your point of view and help you to live for His kingdom not of this world.