Monday, December 11, 2006

Subverting the World System

The Jews understood the purpose of Jesus ministry.

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king" (Luke 23:1,2).
The Jews understood that Jesus was subverting the nation. The logical conclusion of his message was that both taxation and the Roman empire are illegitimate. However, although the Jews understood the goal of Jesus kingdom, they did not understand how it would be brought into being. Like many Christians, they assumed that it would come by military force. They did not understand that Jesus kingdom would come through the work of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. They could not believe that people would freely choose to serve Jesus, without being forced to submit.

Pilate also understood the implications of Jesus ministry.
So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?""Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied (Luke 23:4).
However, Pilate did not understand how Jesus would become King. He assumed that a king could only rise to power, if he had superior military power. Pilate knew that any forces that Jesus could gather were no match for the ruthless Roman army, so he he did not feel threatened. He did not understand that Jesus would become King of the entire universe when the was raised to the right hand of God. He did not realise that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the advance of the gospel would mean the end of the Roman empire. He did not understand that the advance of the Kingdom of God would mean the end of human government as he knew it.

Unfortunately many Christians do not understand these things any better than Pilate. They either assume that the Kingdom of God can be advanced through the use of political power, or they assume that the Kingdom of God will only be established when Jesus returns and uses military power to destroy his enemies. Both views are a distortion of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Kingdom is totally different from the kingdoms of the world. It cannot be established by force, whether wielded by a democratic political system or a Rambo-like Saviour on a white horse.

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