36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”
My kingdom isn’t from here because if it were, there wouldn’t have been a crucifixion.
In essence, that is what Jesus is saying here. This statement comes during a back and forth between Jesus and Pontius Pilate after the trial about Jesus’ fate. Pilate said, “…Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” And today’s text is Jesus’ response. It, amongst most of what Jesus says during this exchange, are unexpected answers. He keeps avoiding the direct questions at hand because He knows His words matter greatly. They are life and death. But in this specific response, Jesus is really calling humanity for what lives within us: the violence and sin, that keeps us from fully experiencing God’s kingdom – that God Themself can be walking around among them, yet violence and death are their response.
Now here’s where the courage comes in: it takes courage for us to admit that we are sometimes (often) in God’s way. This is not something we want to admit. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not who we long to be as faithful disciples of God. The actual twelve disciples struggled with this just as we do. But the only way we can inch closer to creating God’s kingdom, to cultivating environments where God’s kingdom can break through and thrive, we first have to admit that the one thing standing in the way is us. It isn’t until we come to terms with that that we can actually begin to change it.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
When we talk about courage, we often talk about doing something great, living out some adventure or overcoming a fear. Talking about it in terms of self-exploration is not as common of a usage because many of us are scared to grapple with the things within ourselves that hold us back or may not allow us to live our fullest lives as God’s children. When you hear about “God’s kingdom”, what comes to mind to you? Have you experienced glimpses of it? What does that look like within you? What may be holding you back from embracing it?
Prayer: Dear Lord, let your kingdom come. Amen.