John 18:36 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.”
A weakness of every Japanese translation of the Bible that I have seen is displayed here. Where English specifies “kingdom,” the Japanese simply says “country.” It is true that all countries of that era were either kingdoms or empires, but still, “country” has a very strong sense of physical territory, whereas “kingdom” puts the emphasis on the king, the ruling authority. That’s why the declaration in heaven is, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) It’s not that all the countries on earth will be transformed into heaven, it’s that, as Jesus said in the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) When Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come,” He was speaking of His authority, His Lordship. If we want to operate in the kingdom of God, we need only to be completely submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jack Hayford’s well-loved song, Majesty, hits the nail on the head: “Majesty, kingdom authority, flow from His throne unto His own; His anthem raise.” Jesus’ Lordship was not granted by the world, it was granted by the Creator, so there was and is nothing in and of the world that can take it away. Pilate owed his position to politics, to the Roman Empire and to the emperor, and he could see that Jesus was indeed operating in an entirely different dimension. That’s why he worked pretty hard, really, to let Jesus go, but ultimately his fear of political realities kept him from it. We today are very aware of politics, but we’ve got to remember that all authority ultimately rests in Christ Jesus alone.
I have been aware of authority and political systems most of my life. I was in the 7th grade when Nikita Khrushchev took his shoe off to pound the podium with it in a speech at the UN, saying “We will bury you.” (I even wrote a report on it for my English class.) I am a citizen of the freest democracy in the world and a resident of a country that has been learning democracy for the past 75 years, but I have been very aware of other governmental systems. That whole issue is also expressed in the matter of Church government. Sadly, many churches forget that Jesus is an absolute ruler, and they out-vote Him! No human being is supposed to be a dictator, particularly in the Church, but we’ve got to remember where all genuine authority originates. The Founders of America got it right when they recognized that our rights are given to us by our Creator, not by government. The assorted assaults on those rights actually originate in a defiance against that Creator. I need to remember that, and appeal to God in every case. In my own life, I’ve got to remember that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, completely subject to the authority of my King. That said, there is tremendous freedom in that, because the rights of citizenship in God’s kingdom include the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me operate fully under, and in, the authority of Jesus Christ my Lord, so that Your will may be done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!