TWO KINGDOMS


…From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’ When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.” (Jn 19: 12-16) Two “kingdoms” are being set against one another here, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar. These kingdoms are clashing not because they must, because the ultimate authority in both kingdoms, in reality, is God. Jesus reminds Pilate of this reality in the verse preceding the above passage: “You would have no power over me,“ He says to Pilate, “unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (Jn 19: 11) The two kingdoms are clashing here because the people involved are setting the two kingdoms against each other within their own hearts. In the case of the chief priests, they are doing so knowingly, manipulating Pilate to meet their own earthly goals. In the case of Pilate, he does so in confusion; because his entire upbringing and position in the Roman world have operated on a distorted, confused vision of Caesar as “the” ultimate authority. Today let me keep God in the picture, whatever politics I choose to embrace. I am less likely to shout “Away with Him!” in my heart and in my politics, when I maintain my conscious contact with Him, as the one, ultimate authority in my life. “For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,” I say today, “now and forever.” Amen!

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