THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Pastor Sherri Drury
Every King has a kingdom, and every kingdom has a people. Those who are in Christ are God’s people, and they look forward to and long for God’s authority, power and majesty over all things, including their lives.
The Kingdom of God — Heaven — has begun on Earth. It was not and is not finished, but it is here, among us, in us, and we see glimpses of it as God moves in the world through His Spirit. [Heaven, Chapter 1]
In the reading this week, The Kingdom of God was presented as another Biblical description of heaven — or maybe a better description of heaven. And this improved description of heaven came directly out of Jesus’ mouth.
I want to share one of my favorite images related to Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Isaiah 45:23 introduces it, Romans 4:11 mentions it, and Paul brings it home in Philippians 2:10-11: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
We are reminded in these verses that as few and far between as those glimpses of Heaven are — glimpses of an Incredible King, a Reign without end, and a desirable Kingdom — that all of us will ultimately acknowledge Jesus as the Eternal King of an Eternal Kingdom.
Have you ever thought that maybe those glimpses are few and far between because we don’t look for them, we don’t recognize them, and we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our spiritual eyes to see them?
When I find myself in need of some reminder of this Kingdom that truly IS, while also IS YET TO COME, I return to John 18. In this part of Jesus’s life, he is about to be arrested. And it appears that he’s going willingly. In any storyline of any hero, this would seem like a moment of defeat.
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. [John 18:1-6]
Notice that Jesus wasn’t surprised. The Kingdom of God had already come to earth, and the door was standing open, ready. This arrest in the dead of night would not mess with any power he already had. It would not diminish any authority he already held. This arrest was part of the plan to define and secure his Kingship and his Kingdom.
Notice that Jesus did not try to hide. He willingly revealed himself to his soon-to-be captors with the words, “I am he.” These seem like little words; however, I AM would have been powerful and purposeful words for Jesus to speak. He uses them to describe himself a lot. (I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the gate, I am the Good Shepherd, I am the vine, etc.) And they would have been powerful and purposeful words for God’s people to hear. They echo back to the words that God used to introduce himself to Moses in a remote desert many years before. When God first spoke these words to Moses, it was to usher in a grand plan to physically free God’s people from an oppressor. When Jesus walked the earth and spoke these words to his followers, it was to usher in an even grander plan to free anyone and everyone from the oppression of sin, guilt, shame, suffering, death — this time in a spiritual sense.
Jesus chose to speak these weighted words of introduction, I AM, earlier in his ministry (John 8:58). At that point, people were ready to stone him. But here in the Garden of Gethsemane– in the gut-wrenching scene where men will grab him and soon whip him, slap him, and hoist him up on a structure of torture and execution, these words bring a powerful reality check.
These soldiers who came with torches, lanterns, and weapons, who came to arrest Jesus, fell to the ground, not in response to any forceful defense (although Peter tried to mount one), but by his simple, spoken clarification of who He was.
The words tell us they drew back and fell to the ground, but I have to envision in that small corner of the world, . . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.
And someday . . . . when he again is visible . . . . at the name of King Jesus. . . . every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And just like in that Olive Grove, this falling on our knees will be compulsory. Even those who have not recognized or worshipped him before will find themselves humbled and in submission before Him. How awesome! The glory, grandeur, and greatness of our King will not leave one person standing.
So remember my friends, — in this time of waiting — that this King reigns and this Kingdom stands. And when you long for glimpses of it but don’t find many, ask God to give you a vision of that moment when the reign and power and glory of the King was vivid, tangible, and palpable. For that Olive Grove might just be more like what Heaven is than we ever realized.