God’s Kingdom. I love to think about it. Anne’s accident has stirred this new interest in me. Most of the time… I feel like a child – lost in a snowy forest… crunch, crunch, crunching through the snow – searching and hoping. But when I read my bible – and I mean really sit and read and think about what I’m reading – it’s like I see a warm, welcoming cabin but with all the curtains drawn – and I get excited and curious – and then a small corner of the curtain opens – and there’s a figure… motioning for me to peek. And I do.
Have you ever thought of what the Jews expected of their “Messiah?” One of the first words Mary hears from the angel about her son, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (emphasis mine). Her son would grow up and become a King. The word, king, represented something to Mary – and to all the Jews. Ruler, power, freedom from tyranny. They all hoped for it. Many still do.
Nathanael, one of the twelve, when he first meets Jesus, says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” He expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.
John 2-4 are fascinating chapters because these events happened before Jesus officially asked any of his disciples to be “disciples.” He hadn’t asked them to leave their nets, or homes or other jobs. A few men – we know of 5 for sure- just traveled with Jesus and watched. And John, being one of those 5 – gave us details that none of the other gospel writers did… like Jesus’ first miracle (John 2:1-12). It was AMAZINGLY… ordinary. He made wine from water to save the host from embarrassment, and nobody saw the miracle except Jesus’ ragged companions and the servants. …Doesn’t sound very king-like to me.
Then John takes us to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:12-22). Jesus seems to act like a mad-man, making a whip out of chords, driving all the animals from the temple and overturning tables. Money was literally scattered everywhere. Why? Even the Jews asked Him why; “Give us a miracle to show us you have the authority to do this,” they cried. And he speaks spiritually; “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” The Jews take him literally, and they scoff, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”
Why did he make such a public spectacle in the temple? I’ll tell you why – He. is. the. King. He’s not aiming to be King of just the land of Israel. That’s way too small for Him. His is a spiritual Kingdom – one that has no end, no limits. He comes into His place, and we watch as He overturns the spiritual leadership of the day.
John writes that later his disciples remembered what He had said and they believed. Later refers to… after the crucifixion, after the three agonizing days of despair, after the ressurection and after the ascension to when the Spirit came – and gave understanding. When we believe, His Spirit comes down and gives us understanding and makes our heart a temple – and Jesus comes in… and becomes King, overturning and scattering. Why? The answer lies in John’s next paragraph…
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man (John 2:23-25).
He knows what is in me. It’s not always pretty. But He came anyway, while we were still sinners, and destroyed the old temple – and built a new one in three days. Jesus is building His Kingdom…
one lowly sinner,
one weak vessel, and
one sacrifice at a time.