Focus on Christ Meditations: 56. Christ’s Kingdom Expressed
Mt 12:28 I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
We now move to the heart of the will of God in respect of the Kingdom of God. How did Jesus express the kingdom? We finished Study No. 54 with a quote from Daniel about the coming of the Son of Man and picked up on two words in that were in those verses and we said, “Dominion” speak of dominance, domination, and the power to rule. “Kingdom” speaks of the realm or territory or area where his reign exists, where we start thinking about the expression of the reign of the king, how he shows he is king as he reigns. ‘Reign’ is about exercising sovereignty, about being in control. I want us to now zoom in on that last definition, the fact of ‘reign’ being all about being in control, not merely coping, not merely surviving, but being in control.
In the UK we have a Queen but these days she is mostly just a figurehead, the authority rests with Parliament, but when a king truly reigns, it means that have absolute control, absolute power and absolute authority. When we see this in respect of sinful human beings, they are usually despots who abuse their power and abuse their subjects. When we come to the ruler over the Kingdom of God, the ruler is a benign controller who controls for the benefit of his subjects. That is the big difference between the kingdoms of the earth and the Kingdom of Heaven. So let’s see ‘Christ in Control’. It is so obvious we have probably never thought about it.
Control over the material world: This is the most obvious thing in Jesus’ earthly ministry, and many of us struggle to believe that this is still true of his body today when we allow him to lead. In the pages of the Gospels we see Jesus in control of the elements – calming a storm, walking on water, turning water into wine, expanding bread and fishes to feed thousands; these are all examples of Jesus being in absolute control of material elements.
Control over health and life itself: When we see Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons and even raising the dead, we see this power and authority over the material world being applied into flesh and blood human bodies. This is Jesus reigning in the most obvious ways. If we believe Scripture, the very scriptures we have been looking at earlier in this series, where we have seen that Jesus was involved in creation (Jn 1) and now upholds this world by his powerful word (Heb 1), the fact of him controlling nature and the state of human bodies should not surprise us.
Control over himself: Now here is an area we don’t tend to think about but when it is paralleled into our lives as part of his body today it becomes very pertinent. Let’s consider various ways we see this.
i) In respect of Satan: The Gospels record Satan coming with three temptations before Jesus starts his ministry, seeking to bring him down, but in each case he remains firmly in control of his mind and his behaviour and gives right responses. This is significant because Satan questioned his very identity, but Jesus remained firmly in control of his own thinking about himself and so did not succumb to the enemy’s negatives; he knew who he was and what he was to do, right up to an including the Cross and never deviated from that, even in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was confronted with the awfulness of what was just about to happen
ii) In respect of human prejudices: Jesus not succumb to prejudices or false religious expectations which we see in the way he met with and spoke to the Samaritan woman, the adulterous woman, the Greek woman, a leper who he touched, tax collectors etc. who he dined with, all of whom we have considered previously, and all of whom would have been rejected by respectable Judaism.
iii) In respect of his speech: But it goes beyond meeting with the unclean, the sinners and so on; it includes how he encountered and responded to the leaders and religious elite; he did not speak out of turn, he was in complete control of his tongue. He did not waver before ‘great people’; he knew who he was and therefore never felt defensive, as we so often do. He never felt uncomfortable in any situation because he knew who he was and knew the power and authority that he had.
iv) In respect of his emotions: This is an area where we are so often stunted and so our emotions are oppressed by expectations or hardened and calloused by the hard knocks of life or the hard words of parents or teachers or other people of influence that shut us down. No, he was clearly saddened by the fact of his disciples’ little belief sometimes, he was saddened by the grief that he saw in those he loved (at Lazarus’s tomb) and he anguished over the thought of being separated from his Father on the Cross.
In each of these ways Jesus was in complete control. He knew people (Mt 12:25, 27:18, Jn 2:24) and was not fazed by them, whether they were the great and good and influential or whether they were prostitutes, demon possessed, sinner and crooks. In one sense we might say he was above them all and was therefore not controlled by what they thought, either of themselves or about him. (There is another aspect of his reign that appears to run completely contrary to this, but we will leave than until the next study.)
For the time being can we remind ourselves that we Christians are ‘the body of Christ’ and therefore with his Holy Spirit within us we are called to reflect him and portray him to the world around us. We fail to do that when we don’t reject the lies from the past we have been told about ourselves, or we fail to let him heal us up over our hurts from the past, and we thus allow the enemy to demean us in our own thinking about ourselves, and so we feel inadequate in the presence of ‘big’ people, or ‘trying’ circumstances.
And then we forget what Paul tells us, that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” and, even more, we forget that this was, “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 6,7) This is our place – next to him. And why? So that we can catch his heart and purpose and receive from him everything we need to stand with heads held high as God’s children.
The apostle Peter said the same thing: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him.” (2 Pet 1:3) Putting that into our own words, “The power that Jesus has as the Son of God ruling at his Father’s right hand, has also been given to us to help us meet the needs of every day and be godly (knowing and responding to God in every circumstance) as we share in his life, share in that experience of him, the ruler of all things seated on high.”
As the apostle Paul put it, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph 1:22,23) Sometimes the Message version puts it very well. Here is Eph 1:20-23: “All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” This is what this is all about! Hallelujah!