Bible Reading: John 18:24-40
Did Jesus intend to establish His Kingdom on earth? The answer is: yes, and no. What did He mean when He taught the disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come…on earth as it is in Heaven.” He meant just that. Confused? No need to be. Read on.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
When you travel to countries outside of the United States you generally have to have a Passport, and sometimes a Visa. When you arrive you are greeted by a government official (and sometimes military personnel) and go through a security check. Your Passport is stamped, showing that you have entered the country. It’s not unusual to see the national flag and motto publicly displayed.
But what about when you encounter similar things when traveling…inside the United States? You would if you traveled to Zaqistan. Where? You know, Zaqistan. That small country located in a remote area of Utah (not clearly identified because its President doesn’t want people getting lost looking for it). At any rate, it’s located about 60 miles from the nearest city and 15 miles from the nearest paved road (actually it is in the New Foundland Evaporation Basin of the The Great Salt Lake). Zaqistan, named after its founder and President, Zaq Landsberg. “Ooooh,” you say, “that Zaqistan, why didn’t you say so? You’re kidding me, right?” Nope, I’m not kidding. Zaqistan. Check this out…
- it’s about 4 acres in size
- has its own flag (a gold squid on a field of red)
- a “Decennial Monument” was erected in 2015 celebrating 10 years of independence
- official looking Passports (that get stamped when you enter and exit)
- a Port of Entry with a security gate and a robotic guard (this is where Passport Control, Customs, and Immigration are handled)
- a Victory Arch (completed in 2009, though no particular victory is mentioned)
- Guardians of Zaqistan that keep watch over its border (these are robot-looking figures made out of metal boxes, with arms made from what looks like clothes dryer ducting)
- a wildflower project (plastic flowers planted in the desert-like area…they can survive the harsh climate)
- a supply bunker (food, etc.)
- an Independence Day celebration (November 19th, 2005, 10:57pm ZST)
- its own National Time Zone: Zaqistan Standard Time (ZST)
- sadly, it has few natural resources: desert bush and sand
- there is a national animal: the giant squid (in the middle of the country?)
- and, an official Motto, “Quispiam Ex Nusquam” (meaning: Something From Nothing).
What more do you need in order to be a country? Right?
Zaq is originally from New York and moved to this remote piece of property over a decade ago. He knows that he will never really become a separate nation (that’s why he still pays his taxes at Box Elder County, about 160 miles north of Salt Lake City). But, just being able to talk about being an independent nation gives him a feeling of legitimacy. As someone has said, “If something doesn’t exist, then how can you talk about it?” Let me think about that one. Hmmmmm? Zaqistan. Whatever.
When the Jewish leaders decided to have Jesus killed (because they thought that He was a threat to their leadership and power over Israel and its people)…they had a problem. You see, years before, the Romans had conquered Israel and were in complete and total control. They allowed the Jews to continue to have their own separate, independent religion and to maintain general jurisdiction over Jewish citizens. But, even then, the Romans made all final governmental decisions. This included matters dealing with the death penalty. That was a sentence that the Jews could not enforce, themselves. They had to appeal to the Romans for that, to ask for their permission. Only the Romans could officially find someone guilty of a crime deserving the death penalty and then execute the sentence. So, the Jewish leaders brought Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate and asked that he execute Jesus. Pilate’s headquarters in Jerusalem was the Praetorium.
When Pilate questioned Jesus he asked Him if He was the “King of the Jews”. Pilate could care less about religious squabbles that the Jews had with themselves. His only concern was if Jesus was trying to lead the Jews in a revolt against the Roman government. Jesus said that He did have a Kingdom…but that it was not of this “world”, or of this “realm”. He said that if it was of this “world” then His disciples would be arming for war…but they weren’t. Then, He said that the members of His Kingdom were those who accepted His teachings as being the “truth”. What did He mean by those things? Well, it’s a good chance that Pilate thought that Jesus was just talking about a philosophical kingdom of the intellectual realm (a way of life, or a way of thinking). He wasn’t particularly concerned with that. That just sounded like a lot of religious mumbo-jumbo, to him. But that’s not what Jesus meant. Jesus was saying that His Kingdom wasn’t a kingdom of the physical realm, but a Kingdom of the spiritual realm. If Pilate had been right and Jesus was just talking about a kingdom that was of the intellectual realm…then that kingdom would only have been a smaller part of the physical realm (like a little circle in a bigger circle). But that’s not what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about a Kingdom of the spiritual realm (that would be a bigger circle and the physical realm would have been a smaller circle in it). Without realizing it…Pilate had it exactly backwards. The spiritual realm that Jesus was talking about was the biggest threat that the Roman Empire would ever face. And Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be its King. This Kingdom of Jesus was a spiritual Kingdom…a Kingdom of the heart. Because of that, it doesn’t matter what nationality, what race, what geographic area, or what time in history a person lives. If that person has accepted Jesus as their Savior…they belong to His Kingdom. It is the greatest Kingdom there has ever been and it will last for all of eternity. Pilate didn’t realize it, but by allowing Jesus to be crucified…he was part of God’s plan to establish His Kingdom on earth. Not a physical kingdom…but a spiritual Kingdom that would spread from heart to heart, and nation to nation, and that would ultimately be victorious over every other kingdom ever established.
While we live on earth in a physical kingdom (such as the United States) and live according to its laws…we are also members of the spiritual Kingdom of Jesus. And ultimately, the laws of that Kingdom, God’s Kingdom…are superior to all other laws. Jesus is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. We have dual citizenship…a kingdom on earth, and the Kingdom of God. Our first allegiance is to God and to His Kingdom. And the truth is…when our first and greatest commitment is to God’s Kingdom…then we will be better citizens in our earthly kingdom. So, if you want to be the very best citizen that you can be…make God’s Kingdom the kingdom of your heart and live for Him.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,