Jesus Testifies About His Kingdom
Open Your Bible
John 18:1-40, Isaiah 9:2-7, Daniel 7:14
BY Yana Conner
Jesus understood the assignment. He was sent to establish an eternal and other-worldly kingdom.
When the Jewish officials, accompanied by Roman soldiers, went searching for Him, He didn’t run or hide His identity. Instead, He went to a place where He knew Judas would easily find Him. And when asked if He was Jesus of Nazareth, He calmly and decisively responded, “I am he” (John 18:5–6). When the high priest’s official slapped Him, Jesus didn’t take back His breath from his lungs. He let him live. He understood the assignment wasn’t to flex (assert) His identity, but instead to ready His human body to be rendered breathless on a cross.
As He explained to Pilate, His kingdom was not of this world. His assignment did not include bringing Israel political power. If it was, He along with His servants would fight (v.36).
You know who didn’t understand this assignment, though?
Peter was never down with Christ’s crucifixion plan (Matthew 16:21–23, Mark 8:31–33). He envisioned Christ’s kingdom being quite different—victorious in earthly power, and definitely not taking slaps in the face. He thought Christ’s kingdom was of this world, which is why he grabbed his sword when Judas and the cavalry came to arrest Jesus Christ.
Anybody like Peter? I know I am. I’m not down for the crucifixion plan either. Especially if it involves my crucifixion. “Jesus, you can die, but I don’t want to.” I want comfort. I want Jesus’s kingdom to be of this world. It would just make my life easier, you know?
When I initially said “yes” to following Jesus, I envisioned a future that came with certain advantages—answered prayers, a husband by thirty, financial security, thriving ministry. However, many of my prayers have gone unanswered, I’m thirty-six and still single, my financial security ebbs and flows, and ministry is simultaneously hard and beautiful. It’s not what I thought.
We all, like Peter, have preconceived ideas about what the kingdom of God should feel and look like. And when it appears in a form we did not imagine, we can grab our swords to protest how the kingdom of God is showing up in our lives in the form of suffering, unmet desires, and death to self. We can also, out of fear of social or physical persecution, deny our association with Christ by creating distance between us and His Church.
Our desire for an earthly kingdom results from a preoccupation with what Jesus refers to as human concerns. Our willingness to fight for the world’s definition of the “good life” and deny Christ to avoid the suffering that comes with following Him is the result of not understanding our assignment to live for a kingdom that is not of this world.
Therefore, “seek the things above, where Christ is…set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1–2).