John 18:28-40 | Jesus is King Over All | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 18:28–18:40
Turn if you will to John 18. The text is verses 28 through 40. I’ll read it as we go along and as I teach it and explain it. The title of the message this morning is “Jesus is King Over All.” Now notice the title is not “Jesus was King over All” or even “Jesus Will Be King Over All.” The title this morning is “Jesus is King Over All.”
I don’t know what your mascot was in high school. I don’t know whether you were a badger or a bear or a wolverine or an Eskimo or some other thing. I don’t know what you were. But mascots are kind of a fun way to identify with a particular school or organization. My school mascot in high school was a knight once powerful force that would defend monarchs and their nations, their countries, but we don’t really have knights anymore.
Our mascot in high school as I said was a knight, and we had a guy that would dress up in a knight’s costume. Now the knights of a previous day were strong and brave and noble and defenders. The knight of my high school was oftentimes a little wimpy freshman boy in a big soft, fluffy costume with a knight who carried a sword with a smile on his face. Far cry from what a real knight was.
And I wonder sometimes if that’s how we view the power of Jesus. He’s a mascot. We’ll pay attention to him a lot over Thanksgiving and Christmas and Resurrection Sunday and even every Sunday. But most of the week we don’t feel like he has much power because we read the newspaper and our head goes down instead of up in hope. We watch the news, and we roll our eyes instead of looking to heaven for the coming King.
We don’t always believe what it says about his control over all things in the universe. We treat him often like a once powerful man who is kind of our mascot now. We say that Christ is powerful and we live with all sorts of anxiety. We say on Sunday morning that Christ is sovereign over all things, but we act surprised when our body, our relationships and our governments don’t act perfectly.
We say on Sunday mornings that Christ is working in the world, but we watch the news Monday through Saturday, and we read the newspaper, we digest social media, and we hang our heads. Why the disconnect? The disconnect often comes because we don’t actually always believe what he says. Do we actually believe that Jesus is King over all, or is he just our mascot who represents something that was powerful back in the Bible?
Well, this morning this passage gives us two proofs that Jesus is still King over all, and I think we need to believe this passage this morning. The whole book of John was written so that we would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing have life in his name. And we know from the rest of Scripture (Romans 1:16-17, namely) that a believer doesn’t just believe one time and then fear and doubt and be anxious until Jesus comes.
A believer lives every day by faith. The just shall live by faith, shall live in an ongoing manner by faith. So, John is written not just for unbelievers but for believers to keep trusting, keep believing Jesus. And as I read through these last chapters—John 18-21—and you read about his arrest and his unjust trials before the Jews and before the Romans and you read about him on the cross, when you read John’s words closely, you read about someone who’s dying but someone who is in control at every moment.
That should change our Monday. He’s in control over the worst sin that’s ever been levied against a man—the crucifixion of the Holy One on the cross. He is in control the whole time. How much more so is he in control over the smaller sins that affect us or that are even because of us in this world
1. The King’s Death was Specifically Intentional
So, two proofs this morning that Jesus is the King over all. The first one you see in verses 28 through 32. The King’s death was specifically intentional. What I’m saying here as we look at these passages is Jesus’ death is specific in detail. He’s prophesying about things that are going to happen, the way specifically he’s going to die. That should give us proof and hope in his current reign.
He is not subjected to the Jews and Romans and he all of a sudden lost 2,000 years ago. Even how he died pointed to his fulfillment of Scripture, his fulfillment of the sovereign plan of God. The fact that Jesus even speaks specifically of his own death and the way he would die shows that he is perfectly in control of all of this. He’s on his throne.
Verse 28, we pick up moving from the Jewish trial now to the Roman trial. “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning.”
As I mentioned before in the weeks previous, he went through two overarching trials—one trial by the Jews that came in three parts, and one trial by the Romans that would come in three parts. This is that transition part from the Jewish trial to the Roman trial. He goes from the compound of Caiaphas and Annas, his father-in-law who Jesus was brought to first, he goes from there to the Roman praetorium where Pilate was the one now in charge.
He’s at the governor’s headquarters, Pilate’s headquarters, and the passage continues. “They themselves [the Jews who brought him] did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.” Well, aren’t they a godly group of people? They take Jesus, the righteous one, through an unjust trial. Three stages of an unjust trial, and it came following an unjust arrest, but yet when they bring him to the Romans, oh, we can’t go in there because we’ve gotta be holy before the Passover.
This is often how self-righteous people are. They pick and choose their areas of holiness. These people are so fastidious, except when they’re violating the laws about trials.
Verse 29: “So Pilate went outside to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered him, ‘If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.’” Another lie. Jesus didn’t know evil and yet they delivered him to Pilate. They’re saying, listen, we wouldn’t be bothering you if this man weren’t actually doing evil. Again, this group lies.
Now you have to understand here. Pilate didn’t want any part of this matter. The Romans didn’t want to be brought into Jewish legal disputes, and the Jews knew that as well. Remember Rome controlled Israel in that sense. They allowed Israel to operate with some sort of sovereignty, but they were the umbrella really controlling what they could and could not do.
So, there was constant tension between Rome and Israel. They were terrorists. They were zealots, insurrectionists—we’ll meet one later. And so for the Jews to go to Rome for justice, they’re kind of saying, listen, if this weren’t such a big deal, if he weren’t actually doing wrong, we wouldn’t be bothering you about this.
And Pilate doesn’t want any part of this either. Pilate’s working his way up a Roman system of government, a political system. You can read lots about Pilate in extrabiblical literature. But Pilate did not want any unrest in his territory, because if he did, maybe the higher-ups in Rome would question his ability to lead, and he would lose his position.
So Pilate doesn’t want any part of the dispute. He just wants things to be peaceful, and he’s in Jerusalem—not normally where he would be—he’s in Jerusalem because now all the Jews are here once a year for the Passover. So, this is a tense time already for Rome. And so, Pilate’s here not wanting any jurisdiction over this, and the Jews are bringing Jesus and saying, listen, we wouldn’t be bothering you if he wasn’t actually doing evil. They’re lying, but that’s their argument.
Verse 31: “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.’” Notice verse 32: “This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
Jesus knew all along that he would not die by being stoned to death. He escaped stoning already twice in the gospel of John. If you were reading the gospel of John for the first time and you didn’t know how Jesus died, but you knew that he did die, when we came to those passages in early John you’d think, oh, here it is, they’ve surrounded him. They’ve surrounded him, they’ve got stones, they’re angry, there’s nowhere else for him to turn. The temple literally has a security force in it. They’re not going to lose him. He’s dead.
And John mentions that Jesus went up out of their midst. Coincidence? No. Jesus died a particular way. Jesus died with intentionality. Jesus died to fulfill Scripture. This is the plan of God and this is how the Son fulfills the plan. Jesus knew exactly by what kind of death he was going to die. He knew that he’d be crucified, and he actually prophesied about this. Do you remember John 12?
Listen to John 12:32-33: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [he knew he would not be crushed to the earth by stones; he knew he would be lifted up], will draw all people to myself.” That’s a reference to all people from all over the earth. Every tribe, tongue and nation. Jew and Gentile. “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
This is before he’s even arrested. When he speaks this in John 12, if you took a poll of the nation of Israel and you said, listen, we’re calling with a poll. Thank you for taking your time. Please don’t hang up on me. We’re calling with a poll. You know that Jesus is going to die. How will he die? Will he die by crucifixion? Will he die by being stoned to death or some other manner. Almost everyone would have said being stoned to death because that’s how the Jews would do it.
But Jesus says, before he’s even arrested, I’m going to be lifted up. Crucifixion. Jesus is fulfilling Scripture. Deuteronomy 21:23—cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. Numbers 21—remember the scene in the wilderness when the people are bitten by snakes and they’re dying, and God tells Moses to put up a serpent on a pole so that the one who would look at the serpent would be healed? It’s a prophecy.
John even tells us that was a prophecy ultimately fulfilled in Christ since he is lifted up, made known, seen by people looking up at him. As he’s lifted up that death on the cross would start to draw people to him.
You know how else this prophecy was fulfilled? Look at your Christian life. You, if you are a Christian, were drawn to the fact that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died a sinner’s death in your place and gave you his life. Jesus still fulfills that prophecy even today. We just baptized people last week, all of them pointing to the salvation that he’s given them in his Son. God’s given them in his Son.
Jesus intended to die this way. So when it appears that Israel is going to get their way and Rome is going to crucify him, you don’t look and see a savior who lost. You see a savior who was victorious. He’s sovereign over the whole thing. This was the Father’s plan. That needs to change the way that we either have or do not have trust in him. We should have trust in him.
If that was the ultimate sin, his execution, then how much more is he sovereign over the smaller sins? When someone wrongs us in our family, when someone mistreats us, when the government doesn’t do all they’re supposed to do, how much more can we trust a savior who’s sovereign even over what happens in this sinful world? We can trust this one. He knew it all.
We look at people who make fantastic predictions and we assign expertise to them. When people predict amazing things, we think that guy knows things. That lady knows some things. They’re smart. They’re wise.
Nicolai Tesla, listen to what he predicted in 1909. Here’s what he said: “It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that an individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.” 1909. We look back and we think that man must have been a smart man. That man must know some things.
How much more Jesus Christ. Jesus predicted that one of his disciples would betray him after they all pledged allegiance to him. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the morning. That’s a specific prophecy. That’s not just, I sense that God’s coming back sometime soon. It’s not some vague thing. That’s specific.
Jesus predicted that he would die on Passover. He predicted that he would die in Jerusalem, although most of even his adult ministry, he didn’t spend time in Jerusalem. He predicted that he would rise on the third day. Now how’s that for a prophecy? People don’t rise from the dead, but he prophesied that he would rise on the third day.
He prophesied that the Holy Spirit would be given once he departed to heaven. And guess what, it was given and three thousand people came to Christ on that day of Pentecost. Coincidence or sovereignty? Sovereignty.
He predicted that his followers would be scattered. He predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and guess what happened in 70 A.D.? He predicted all of this. Jesus is right. Jesus knows all things. Jesus knows exactly how he’s going to die, and it’s all part of the plan. We can trust in this Jesus.
Let me ask, who else are we trusting in? Doctors? Spouse? Diet? Retirement plan? Government? Admit we do put a lot of trust in those things. Just admit it. When it comes to a theological exam, do you trust God or the government? Do you trust God or doctors? You always get the answer right on an exam.
But do you operate with that trust? Do you actually trust Christ, the sovereign King of the world? Or do you trust lesser things that were never meant to be the object of your trust? Jesus is teaching something here. He’s in control when it appears that he’s not.
By way of application, I would encourage all of us to have more trust in Jesus than we have anxiety. As a matter of fact, have all trust in Jesus and no anxiety. No reason to be anxious.
If he’s given us his Son, if the Father’s given us his Son in the argument of Romans 8, how much more will he not give us all things? We can trust in the Father. If he gave us his Son, his sovereign Son, his sovereign Son who knew exactly how he would die, his sovereign Son who pursued the cross for the joy set before him. If he gave us his sovereign Son, how much more will not the Father give us all things?
He will take care of us. He’ll take care of all that we need. This is a time for Christians to trust the Lord 100%. Not the Lord with some, the government with some. Not the Lord with some, doctors with some. Trust in Christ.
This is ultimately the call of the gospel—to trust in Jesus. I’m sure there are people in here that have put hopes in someone else, a romantic relationship, a career, a school choice, whatever it may be. But yet those things will always break. They can’t bear the weight of our complete trust. They were never meant to bear the weight of our complete trust.
Christ is the only one that’s meant to bear the weight of all of our trust. Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. This is the call of Jesus. Trust me. Trust me. And all throughout John, whether it’s him doing miracles, turning water into wine, or whether it’s him being sovereign even over his arrest and trial, or it’s him rising from the grave, the argument of John is, believe him. Trust him.
It’s been said that it’s one thing to believe in Jesus. It’s a whole other thing to believe Jesus every single day. This is the call. I would beg … I’m not too proud to beg. I’m begging you if you’ve never trusted Christ, you never said, okay, I’m taking my whole life on this earth and I’m taking my whole eternity, and I’m betting it all on him. I’m throwing it all on him. If you’ve never done that, today’s the day.
You’re seeing in these passages a sovereign King who’s in control of everything, even sin. So even your sin that you bring to the table and even the sin and the wrongdoing of other people and what they’ve done to you, you can bring it all to him and say, you deal with it. I trust you. You’re my Lord. You’re my King. I’m begging you, do that today.
Cry out to him for mercy. Nothing in my hands I bring. Simply to the cross I cling. Go to him for mercy and forgiveness.
2. The King’s Kingdom is Currently Operational
Not only was Jesus’ death prophetically and specifically intentional. Next, we’re shown that his kingdom is currently operational. That’s point number two. The King’s death was specifically intentional. That can give us hope, but secondly the King’s kingdom is currently operational. His work is being done, and that can give us confidence.
The main part of this argument through verses 33 to 40 is found in verses 36 and 37. Look down at them for a moment, and then we’ll get to them as we go through the narrative. Verse 36: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’” So you look at what’s happening here, and you’re thinking Rome’s getting the best of Jesus. The Jews are getting the best of Jesus. Jesus is losing. And Jesus says, my kingdom’s different than you expect.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
That right there, verse 37, is happening still today. That’s why Jesus came, to rule his kingdom. It just doesn’t look like the kingdoms we’re used to seeing on TV. This is happening. So that’s why I say, we can take great confidence in the fact that the King’s kingdom is currently operational.
Back to verse 33: “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’” So, remember Pilate has just gone out and spoken to the Jews who are really holy, so they’re not going to come all the way in. He’s spoken to them, and then he comes back in, and it’s just Pilate and Jesus.
Some people think John was actually in there at the time. I don’t know. The text doesn’t say. If he wasn’t, the Holy Spirit would reveal this to him, which was prophesied in John 14 anyway. But if he was, okay, so he was. Either way, here’s what happened. Pilate and Jesus inside. I mean picture that. A room. Outside you can hear the crowd. Outside you can hear the muffled voices, things going on, but it’s quiet here inside. It’s just Pilate and Jesus.
“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’” Pilate has heard that Jesus is a king. This is what the Jews are saying to Pilate. He’s claiming to be a king. Why would the Jews tell Pilate that he claims to be a king? Because when someone claimed to be a king of Israel at that time, they were claiming to be the one that would set Israel free from Rome.
So, the Jews want Pilate to think this guy’s coming after you and your government. This guy’s trying to set up his own kingdom. This guy is bringing about an insurrection, which is really, ironically enough, all that the Sanhedrin wanted to have happen. But now when a man claims to be the King of the Jews, they’re making the Romans feel threatened so that Rome would do away with this man. But ultimately that’s even what the Jews want at this time. Rome gone, them to be ruling. They just don’t want Jesus to be doing that.
Verse 34: “Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’” Are you curious yourself, or have you been dragged into this by another group? Pilate didn’t really like that response, by the way. “Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’”
Pilate’s saying, listen, the Jews aren’t dragging me into this. I don’t want to be brought into this. I don’t have anything to do with this. But evidently, you’re a problem. What have you done? Why are they so upset at you? Pilate doesn’t want any part of this trial, but yet the Jews have brought him and he’s saying, what have you done? Just tell me what it is.
Verse 36: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” Jesus’ battle is not to be freed from the Jewish authorities. Jesus isn’t trying to escape. Jesus isn’t standing before Pilate bound looking for an open door, waiting for Pilate to turn his back. That’s not what Jesus is doing.
And thank God he didn’t escape because we would still be in our sin. Jesus is not looking to be freed. This is what we would probably want for Jesus. If we took all of our knowledge here in 21st century Prescott and went back and could eavesdrop into the situation, we’d think we gotta spring Jesus from this. We gotta get him outta here somehow.
That’s not what Jesus is going after. My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is about me dying, rising again, and ruling a people. But none of these people understood that. Jesus’ battle is not even to rule over Israel yet in a political sense.
Back in John 6:15, do you remember that he was so popular? The people were going to make him king. And you know what he did? I’ll tell you what he didn’t do: fit me with the finest kingly robe, get a crown that fits my head. He fled because he knew they wanted to make him king—the political king. He wasn’t here to be the political king. He didn’t come to be the political king.
Jesus’ kingdom looks different than everyone else expects. Everyone expects a scepter and a crown and a purple robe. Jesus puts a towel around his waist and gets down and washes dirty feet. That’s Jesus’ kingdom.
Israel hated their enemies. They hated Rome. Jesus taught to love your enemies. That’s Jesus’ kingdom. He’s got a whole other kingdom that that world and even this world doesn’t get. Notice by the way, if his kingdom were of the world, notice what his servants would do. His servants would fight to keep him safe, to keep him from dying, to keep him from suffering.
Listen, because Jesus’ kingdom is what it is, we should be the people who do not fight other people. See social media pages. See Facebook rants. I think more Christians need to repent of the things they say on Facebook because they appear to be fighting rather than trusting in the kingdom of God. His kingdom is different. We love our enemies. We serve one another.
Jesus isn’t fighting for political status. Jesus isn’t fighting for freedom. He’s intentionally going to die. It’s as if Jesus as a king has a plan to rule his people even if the religions of the world don’t want him to, even if the militaries of the world try to stop him, even if the governments of the world reject him. He’s got a different plan to be king.
Verse 37: “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” Here is the definition of his kingdom. The king comes to a land to speak a message of truth, and people who are his will believe that message and be brought into his kingdom. That’s his kingdom.
It’s not the presidency. It’s not being the prime minister. It’s not being in control like a king that they would think of. His kingdom—the reason he was born—is to be king over a people who he has spoken truth to and who have responded to his truth, namely in the gospel of Christ.
I love that he says that he was born into the world. He was born for this. We say that about people who are really good at what they do. Man, you were born for this. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a child who was just born and you might say to yourself, what are they gonna be? What are they gonna do? How are they gonna affect the world? What are they gonna be like? What’s in their future? Jesus was born a king.
You read Matthew 2, the Magi who come as Jesus is a little child, and they come to bring him gifts. They ask for the King of the Jews. Now, this is Jesus they’re assigning this title to. It’s one thing if you’re born in the Kennedy or in the Bush home to think, hey, you might be a king one day. You might be the president one day. I mean look at the track record. It’s like 50/50.
Jesus, born in Nazareth—Nazareth—and some men come from the East following a star as he’s a little child. And they come asking where is this one, the King of the Jews? Jesus was born for this, and we go throughout his whole life until the time where he’s just about to die, and he tells the Roman ruler, one of the rulers of the known world, I was born for this kingdom. I speak truth, and my people will respond to that truth. That’s Jesus’ kingdom. He came to bear witness to the truth, the truth of the gospel.
I’ll remind you of John 3:16 here: “For God so loved the world …” God loved the world in this particular way: “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That’s the truth Jesus talked about. This is why he came. This is what his kingdom is about. It’s not about having more votes in the Senate than the other guys. It’s about this: speaking the message of truth and drawing people to himself from all nations. This is what he’s about.
Verse 38: “Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” And you can picture a tssss before that. I’m guessing here, but that’s the sentiment. Tssss [sarcastically], what is truth? “After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in him.’” He’s not a threat to Rome. I find no guilt in him. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Pilate flippantly dismisses Christ’s statement about truth. He evidently doesn’t care, doesn’t believe Jesus. Whatever it may be. He doesn’t listen to Jesus, but he doesn’t feel Jesus is a threat to Rome.
Verse 39: Pilate wanting to appease all political parties, wanting to appease both sides, says, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover.” Now, there’s not a lot of extrabiblical literature on this, but the idea was that at Passover for a number of years now, Rome would release a prisoner to Israel. So, Pilate’s going along with that.
You have a custom that I release one man for you at Passover, so do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? Pilate’s not really mocking Jesus so much there as he’s mocking the Jews. Want me to release the King of the Jews? And we know that to be true because of the sign he put on Jesus’ cross later: Jesus, King of the Jews. And they were incensed about that. No, say that he said he was the King of the Jews. And he says, what I’ve written, I’ve written.
Pilate didn’t mind sticking it to Israel. “So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? They cried out again …” And that word “cried out”—they shouted. This was loud. “They cried out again, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’” And John says, “Now Barabbas was a robber.” Actually, in Luke and in Acts it says that Barabbas was a murderer.
Barabbas—get this—was an insurrectionist who wanted to overthrow Rome. Get the picture: The Jews are saying this man, the righteous one, the man who had never sinned, the man that came to free them from their sins—their slavery to sin—this man is claiming to be King of the Jews. Pilate, you and your people better watch out for him. You better do something about him. Jesus was never going for political power to overthrow Rome at that time. Not at all.
He actually came and submitted to Rome, paid taxes to Rome. And the Jews want him crucified, and they’ll take Barabbas, a man who if he keeps doing what he was doing could anger Rome so much that they would clamp down on Israel, but the Israelites don’t care. The Jews at this time do not care. They’ll take Barabbas. They hate Jesus that much.
Barabbas again, ironically, means Son of God. That’s what his name means. So they crucify the actual Son of God to take one who was not at all living like a son of God, but that’s the exchange they want. And my friends, the question isn’t why did the Jews choose Barabbas? That’s not really the question, actually. The question is why did Jesus allow himself to be exchanged for Barabbas?
You and I are Barabbas. We’re the ones who should be sons and daughters of God as soon as we are born but come out despising authority. Jesus actually says in the sermon on the mount that if you’re angry at someone, it’s like you hate them. He puts anger and hate under the same umbrella. And murder. Anger, hate and murder go together.
Barabbas in a sense is a picture of the gospel. A condemned sinner who deserves to die, not dying, and Jesus comes and takes his place. This is us. This is another picture of the gospel in this whole account. Jesus is the substitute for Barabbas, and he’s the substitute for us.
They cry out for Barabbas, they reject Christ, and ultimately Christ will die, but does that mean he loses? This was his plan all along. His kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world, he and his people would be looking to get away. He stays there and takes it because of his love for us.
His kingdom is powerful even when the world today says that it isn’t. Men, women and children are responding to the call of Christ even today. Even in our church. Men, women and children are responding to Christ. We can’t look at the world today and assume that Jesus is losing control.
If we make the mistake and think that his victories are connected with the kingdom that we normally see—the kingdoms that we see on television, the elections that we see on television—if we tie him to those things, yes, he will not look victorious. But if we take him at his word and believe what he says his kingdom is about, his kingdom is fully operational all over the place today, now, in your hearts, in my heart, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, all over the place.
His plan is to redeem people from every tribe, tongue and nation. His plan is not to make sure that every president, prime minister or king holds to Christian values. That’s not his plan. His plan is to redeem people out of the darkness in those systems. Redeem a people. One here. One there. One there. Ten there. Three there. That’s his plan.
And if you believe him and take him at his word, his plan is working. He’s alive. He’s drawing people to himself. So, I say to you trust his plan. Trust his plan. Let’s be less fascinated with political influence and more fascinated with his kingdom and his plan because the two are not the same.
By way of application I have a question for you and an exhortation. Here’s the question for reflection: Which kingdom receives most of your attention? Is it the kingdom of this earth? And with that I throw in all of the things that you and I go through. Economic trouble, emotional trouble, relational trouble, political trouble, health trouble.
Does that consume your time or do you hear Jesus say, my kingdom is not of this world? My kingdom’s different. Or does his kingdom consume most of your time and most of your emotions? That’s the question for reflection. I want you to think about that.
Here’s my exhortation. Brothers and sisters, fight the fight of faith, not the fight of politics. Listen to Russell Moore in his book Onward.
Years ago, when I was serving as a preaching pastor in a church I was approached by an eleven-year-old in our congregation. He wanted to introduce me to his friend Jared. Jared was on his soccer team and had never been to church before. After a few minutes of talking, Jared told me that he needed prayer, that his dad had left, and he didn’t know what his family was going to do. He wondered if I might pray that God would “put my mom and dad back together.” I prayed with him and he turned to go back to his seat.
He was wearing a shirt celebrating the inauguration of a president who was unpopular with most of the people in my white, blue-collar congregation. As I watched this young man walk down his first ever church aisle to hear the gospel perhaps for the first time, a middle-aged man walked past him and huffed. “We need to get you a better shirt.”
I was incredulous. I wanted to yell he’s lost. He’s wounded. He’s hurting. He doesn’t know Christ, and you’re worried about his shirt. My church member was lacking the full context, and he didn’t ask. All he knew was that he didn’t like the president on that boy’s shirt. I wondered how often I’ve done the same thing. How often I have fought the fight I saw in front of me instead of the one that was really there to be fought.
Listen to 2 Timothy 2:24-26:
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Repentance is the goal of our teaching. Not convincing someone to vote like we do. Repentance, faith in Jesus, the sovereign one, the merciful one, the forgiving one, the King. I ask this question: Could Jared ever walk into Canyon Prescott with a shirt that you might disagree with and be treated with gentleness and grace? If he couldn’t be, I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know what we’re doing here.
This is the kingdom of God. He came preaching truth to win people, to draw people to himself, and we are not his security guards. We are his ambassadors begging people to be reconciled to God. We focus too much on the wrong kingdom. The kingdom of God is operative today. Do you still believe this?
People are coming to Christ. People are growing in Christ. Marriages are leaning on Christ. People are adopting or fostering children in our congregation at a high percentage. Pastors in Nicaragua are being trained in sound theology and practical ministry for the glory of God. Sin is being confessed among one another. Jesus is making people like himself. People are being baptized.
The kingdom of God is not weak. It’s just different. It’s a different kind of kingdom than you normally think of, but the kingdom of God is strong and operative. Two proofs that Christ is still king over all the earth. He’s the king whose death was specifically intentional. He’s in control of this whole thing. And he’s the king whose kingdom is still operational.
I leave you with a quote that I’ve shared with you before.
We are not the voice of the past, of the Bible belt to a post-Christian culture of how good things used to be. We are the voices of the future, of the coming kingdom of God. The message of the kingdom is not you kids get off our lawn. The message of the kingdom is make way for the coming of the Lord.
We have to be different. We’re optimistic. We have a king who reigns and who will come back to right all wrongs. Do you believe that? Let’s pray.
Christ, we want to trust in your kingdom, what you say, your words. Lord, shake us up. Forgive us. Father, I’m thankful to you for your grace. We can be short-sighted and forget the plain truths that your Son taught us. Thank you for grace. Be gracious to us. Bear with our shortcomings and teach us.
Lord, I do thank you that a huge testimony of our local church is a desire to see people won to you, our desire to reach out and to go out and to see people brought to Christ. So many examples of people in our body understanding the kingdom of God. I praise you for that, Lord. You have blessed this church with one another.
But Father, I pray that you would keep us trusting in Jesus. Keep us trusting in his power, in his priorities. Lord, we need your priorities. Lord, make Canyon Prescott an optimistic people, even after reading the paper and watching the news. Keep us a people who talk about hope, who talk about the future and what’s even happening now more than we moan about the present. Lord Jesus Christ, announce your kingdom through us. It’s in your name we pay. Amen.
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