At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he was led into the wilderness and was tempted there for forty days. In one of the temptations, the devil took him up to a high mountain and offered him to have power over all the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5 – 8). Now, we know that Jesus wasn’t into a power trip, but could the temptation for him have been, well Jesus, look at how you could influence the world! You could do so much good if you ruled all of the kingdoms in the world! Just think of it, Jesus! Satan is slick. He always makes things look and feel so glorious and enticing. Jesus did not flinch. He refused the offer and rebuked the devil. Through tremendous personal sacrifice, he maintained the vision God had given him of the work he had to do.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, his friend Lazarus died. Jesus went and raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb for four days. People from miles around heard of it and came to Jerusalem. They broke off branches from palm trees and went off to meet him and shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:9 – 13) This moment could have turned into a groundswell movement to make Jesus the King of Israel. Again, Jesus could have been tempted with the thought of how much good he could do if he were king. Think of it. Put yourself in his place. What would you do? He could end Roman rule over Israel. He could bring in a natural kingdom of heaven on earth. He had power to heal people. He could have changed the natural situation of Israel.
What did Jesus do? He found a donkey to sit on. This is not exactly a golden throne fit for a king. Shortly afterwards when foreigners from Greece came to see him, Jesus said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” And what did he mean by that? Was it a splendid kingly glory? Glorified sounds like something spectacular. He continued on, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (Jo 12:24) He knew that in spite of the people’s apparently spectacular acceptance of him at that moment, he would soon die an agonizing death. Once again he never flinched. He knew that his was not a natural kingdom. The glory was not a natural glory. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
We look around ourselves these days and it’s hard to see the Kingdom of God some days. We watch the news and read about what is going on in the world and there is precious little of God’s kingdom described there. However, the Kingdom of God does not come by observation. How does it come then? It comes when we put God’s truth into practice a little more day by day. It comes when we do our best to keep not only the Ten Commandments, but also Jesus’ commandments. We only have to read Matthew five and six to know that Jesus had commandments. Think of a world where Christians are living epistles of Matthew five and six! Amazing!
Jesus did not come to be a natural king with a natural kingdom. He came to bear witness to the truth and everyone that is of the truth hears his voice. (John 18:37) If we live his truth, we are bringing the Kingdom of God more and more into ourselves and therefore into this world. It makes a path for others to follow. It makes it easier for others to see what God can do and to desire to follow that same path. It inspires people. It doesn’t inspire everyone, but it inspires people who are of the truth. We don’t seek great things in this world; we just live the truth and leave the rest up to God.