John 18:33–36 (ESV) — 33 “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34 Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ 35 Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ 36 Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ ”
Today’s Scripture reading is an account of Jesus appearing before Pontius Pilate just hours before His crucifixion. Pilate inquired of Jesus if He was claiming to be the King of the Jews. Because Pilate’s role was to keep the peace, he was concerned about the potential of rebellion against Rome. In verse 36, Jesus stated that His kingdom was not of this world. What did Jesus mean and how does his statement relate to our lives today?
First, we need to understand what he meant by the “world”. Biblically, the world is defined in different ways. It can mean the universe, the earth itself, the inhabitants of earth (humanity), the totality of people alienated from God, and the entire human system in opposition to God. I believe the latter was what Jesus had in mind. His kingdom is not connected to any human system including politics. He was not planning to overthrow Rome or even be a political figure. He simply asked his followers to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Today, we are facing uncertain and turbulent times in politics. As Christians, we are increasingly concerned about the direction of our nation. In our anxiety, we can be tempted to pour our energy into turning our country “back to God”. Unfortunately, it is impossible to turn a society back to God through moral laws and candidates.
The only hope for America, for all nations and all people, is found in Christ alone. The message of the cross is not one of enacting moral law, but rather the dispensing of God’s grace. As a church family, let us stay committed to the Great commission spelled out by Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to begin the age.”
“Father God, Today I affirm that the kingdom of your Son is not rooted in political change. Our hope is not in a candidate or any particular legislation. Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus Christ and His righteousness! Thank you that in this ever-shifting world, we have the Rock of Christ to stand upon. Please help me to be a person of hope and confidence. Remind me that in this world we will have tribulation, but we can take heart, because Christ is overcome the world. In His name, Amen.”