It’s so easy to be critical of the Israelites of Jesus’ day. Their wicked King Herod tried to kill Jesus as a toddler, and their religious leaders opposed Him throughout His ministry. The people wanted Jesus to fill their bellies, and when He told them that wasn’t His purpose for being there, they walked away from Him. They hailed Jesus as their King one day, and five days later they shouted for His execution. They wanted the Messiah to save their nation, restore their fortunes, return them to worldly prominence, and they turned on Him when He didn’t fit that mold.
However, we do a great disservice to them, and to ourselves, when we point the finger at them without stopping to let their place in the narrative of Scripture examine our own hearts. Are we so different? I would argue that we are not, and the attitude and behavior of the disciples helps us to see that.
If anybody should have understood the mission of the Messiah, it should have been those closest to Him. And in many ways, the disciples did understand. The Gospels are filled with their confessions of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. But it’s also clear that they wrestled with the implications of Jesus’ saving work and that even they were tempted to have their eyes and hearts distracted by illusions of worldly power. Even after Jesus died, rose again, and was preparing to ascend into heaven, the disciples asked Him in Acts 1:6, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were still clinging to the idea that Jesus’ role as Messiah included some sort of political deliverance from the Romans. They struggled to trust in the sufficiency of the Good News that the kingdom Jesus rules over is “not of this world.”
As a Christian, you join the disciples as citizens of God’s kingdom. It’s always good for us to remember that is our status, and it’s especially good for us to remember that this week, in the context of the elections taking place in our country. First and foremost, we are citizens of God’s kingdom, and His kingdom is not of this world. Sadly, the tendency of sinful humans is to confuse that truth or forget about that truth. It’s tempting, especially in such a polarized climate that we find ourselves in right now, to invest great hope in the success of our candidates, so that if they win, we become convinced that everything will be made right. And then when they don’t win, or if they do win but don’t fulfill their promise to make everything right, we despair. Another common temptation is to be overcome with fear that the wrong candidate will win, and that’s not healthy either.
I have Good News for you this week: no matter who wins these elections, God still reigns! In Luke 12:22, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life,” and He elaborates on that by reminding us of his care for His creation, and you in particular. And then He talks about how the nations of the world seek after the things of the world, that God knows what you need, so don’t be anxious about them, and instead “Seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” When Jesus says that, He doesn’t mean that we should work really hard to find God and pursue his kingdom vision and then everything else will fall into place. Rather, He is cautioning us against making secondary things primary (this is idolatry), and He is encouraging us to look to Christ and His reign over sin and death (His kingdom), and then even if life falls apart you still know that He is working all things together for your good.
Seek His kingdom. The next verse in Luke 12 is beautiful. Jesus says in Luke 12:31, “Seek His kingdom, and then verse 32, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The kingdom you seek is a kingdom of grace, given to you as a gift through the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His victory over the grave. It’s a kingdom not of this world, and it’s a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). May that truth remove fear this week and comfort and encourage you, no matter what happens.
Get out and vote if you haven’t done so yet, and remember as author Michael Horton put it, that the victory that matters has already been won. It was a landslide victory in Jerusalem during Passover, AD 30.
Rejoicing in Christ,
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