We asked yesterday, why Jesus seemed to be leading a revolution without using any of the usual methods of violence, coercion, hatred, etc.
In Jesus, the kingdom that he is proclaiming is deeply connected to the means by which he will bring it in. If the Kingdom of God is a place of peace, freedom and no oppression, it cannot be brought in through violence, manipulation, fear and oppression.
There is a story that I once heard:
Once upon a time there was a good and kind king who had a great kingdom with many cities. In one distant city, some people took advantage of the freedom the king gave them and started doing evil. They profited by their evil and began to fear that the king would interfere and throw them in jail. Eventually these rebels seethed with hatred for the king. They convinced the city that everyone would be better off without the king, and the city declared its independence from the kingdom.
But soon, with everyone doing whatever they wanted, disorder reigned in the city. There was violence, hatred, lying, oppression, murder, rape, slaver and fear. The king thought: “What should I do? If I take my army and conquer the city by force, the people will fight against me, and I’ll have to kill so many of them, and the rest will only submit through fear or intimidation, which will make them hate me and all I stand for weven more. How does that help them – to be either dead or imprisoned or secretly seething with rage? But if I leave them alone, they’ll destroy each other, and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they’re causing and experiencing.”
So the king did something very surprising. He took off his robes and dressed in the rags of a homeless wanderer. Incognito, he entered the city and began living in a vacant lot near a garbage dump. He took up a trade – fixing broken pottery and furniture. Whenever people came to him, his kindness and goodness and fairness and respect were so striking that they would linger just to be in his presence. They would tell him their fears and questions, and ask his advice. He told them that the rebels had fooled them, that the true king had a better way to live, which exemplified and taught. One by one, then two by two, and then by the hundreds, people began to have confidence in him and live in his way.
Their influence spread to others, and the movement grew and grew until the whole city regretted its rebellion and wanted to return to the kingdom again. But, ashamed of their horrible mistake, they were afraid to approach the king, believing he would certainly destroy them for their rebellion. But the king-in-disguise told them the good news: he himself was king, and he loved them. He held nothing against them, and welcomed them back into his kingdom, having accomplished by a gentle, subtle presence what never could have been accomplished through brute force.
One of the most striking contrasts between Jesus and other revolutionaries happened on his way into Jerusalem in the week of his death. He arrived on a donkey, not a stallion. But then he did what many revolutionaries do: he became a martyr for his cause.
Most revolutions ended at thath point, with their leader dead and gone. Many false Messiahs had gone before Jesus, and ended that way. But Jesus was still a revolutionary revolutionary, since he didn’t stay dead.
He rose again, and it became apparent that his kingdom was a reality. He wasn’t overthrowing the Romans and their evil – so he didn’t use the methods of other rebellions against Rome. He was overthrowing sin and evil itself, and its terrible consequence – death.
He broke its power, dying, then rising from the dead as if it was nothing. He wants to start a movement of rebellion against sin, evil and death, and he’s gone first so we can follow behind. He invites us to follow him, in life, at death, and through death to new life. He wants us to live out his kingdom. How? We can read about it in gospels, especially the parables…which sometimes begin with, “the kingdom of God is like x”. We’ll study one next week. You can also review the Sermon on the Mount series we did here over a year ago.
Challenge: How can the teachings of Jesus challenge the status quo in your workplace, your neighbourhood? How can you live out God’s kingdom right there in a broken place?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]