In my previous post [here] I offered to provide the significance of God’s Kingdom. The most important thing being that there cannot be a Kingdom without a King, who holds sovereign authority over his subjects. A king rules with absolute authority. His subjects are expected to obey every instruction, as coming from the king; otherwise, they lose their citizenship.
The story of Jesus’ birth was first received by King Herod, before anyone else could know. Herod could have sent someone to accompany the wise-men, in order to spot the exact location of the child Jesus. It seems Herod took comfort, only in that those strangers were going to come back with sufficient details. He had faith in them, because they were foreigners.
Anyway, as King, Herod could not entertain the suggestion of another king, to duplicate his own kingdom. This triggered the slaughter of innocent children. But, there was no way the king could access the anointed child.
God is in charge, including the thinking processes of the infidels. If that had not been the case, Jesus could not have survived in His three and a half years of preaching about the kingdom that meant He would be the King. This is why even Joseph’s brothers could not succeed with their plot to kill Joseph, but facilitated his elevation to a senior position in Egypt.
Archelaus, having taken over, at the death of his father, lost that kingdom, lasting ten years. His kingdom had to be revoked by the Romans due to his ruthless reigning. From then on, during the time of Jesus’ activities, Judea was to be ruled by governors, or tetrarchs instead of kings. This was timely, because Jesus, declaring Himself as king, could not be allowed to remain alive that long.
Jesus had not been a religious person. He was a King, and like any king, He held sovereignty over those under His authority. The Jews had practiced Jewish religion under the Roman Empire. The arrangement that had allowed the Jews to practice their religious activities came from the Roman Empire. That could be revoked anytime, at the discretion of the Caesar.
Nevertheless, the circumstances allowed Jesus to carry out His mission without any hullabaloo about His Kingdom claim. Possibly, the Romans took comfort in that the Jews had disowned Jesus as their King? If the Jews had authenticated Jesus as their anticipated Messiah, that would have obviously invited political turbulence. Could this explain the writings of Luke, in recording the activities of Jesus; as assigned by one of the government officials, ‘Most Excellent Theophilus’? (Luke 1:3)
Luke’s mission could have been surveillance, to ensure that the government of Rome was not subjected under threat. However, no threat was found, against the Roman Empire as Jesus would also declare that His Kingdom had not been of this world.
But, if Jesus had been King, which people were under His authority? After Peter had accurately identified his Master as the prophesied Messiah, Jesus declared:
“Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19) (ESV).
Here was the introduction of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. However, no-one would recognize that Kingdom except those, like Peter, who would recognize the position of Jesus. Peter held keys, because of his accurate identity of Jesus. The other disciples had revealed that ordinary people had categorized Jesus as one of the great prophets (Matthew 16:13-15).
Such predictions could have been viewed as appropriate, considering the work that Jesus had done, up to that point. A King had not been known to perform great wonders of God, except the prophets. However, Jesus was born to be a King and only Kings were to be accorded sovereign authority over their subjects.
The significance of what was declared to Peter implied that those identifying with the role of Jesus could never be under the control of any other, except their King, Jesus Christ. The authority of Jesus meant that whatever came from His word of mouth was Law. His declaration: “I have not come to abolish the Law….You have heard that it was said…..but I say….” implied that His words superseded everything, prior to His words.
Anyone who adds or subtracts on what the King said would obviously be violating the King’s command. This throws a real challenge to Christians. The king does not consult anyone, because of his absolute authority over His subjects. It is at His discretion to put anyone on any position, just as it is at his discretion to substitute that person with another.
This removes the enigma where those casting demons and any other mighty works in Jesus name get disqualified “away from me, you evil-doers. I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23). Doing things in Jesus’ name does not necessarily mean that you would be doing the will of God, as highlighted in Jesus’ prayer model.
Jesus said: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) (ESV).
As far as the written law was concerned, no-one could surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees. They had the whole law at their disposal, anyway. It would obviously be a futile thing, attempting to keep the law, aiming at surpassing the Pharisees, to fulfill the King’s command. However, Jesus also declared the provision of rest to those coming to Him (Matthew 11:28).
The only righteousness that could surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees was that of Jesus. This, therefore, means that when surrendering everything to Him, Jesus uses His Kingdom authority to purify the individual, according to the King’s approval. This is why Jesus can be trusted to be the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Failure lies in inability to recognize Him as King, meaning that His word should be regarded as supreme. A person under Jesus authority would not add or subtract to what the King said. Appreciating the Lordship of Jesus automatically means that the person cannot be guided by people surrogating themselves as holding the King’s authority.
Those people may be listened to, as long as one recognizes the one with the supreme authority (Matthew 23:2-3). It takes an analytical person to spot the inconsistencies. However, as long as one appreciates the Lordship of Jesus, that cannot be an uphill task.
The most important thing to remember is that God’s Kingdom, as administered by Jesus, is completely different from the kingdoms of this world. [See Characteristics of God’s Kingdom]
Those under the authority of Jesus cannot necessarily call themselves ‘Christians’, without the King’s approval. We would also not have splinter denominations, with leadership authorities of some people, other than Jesus. Even as people seek to project themselves for leadership positions, it would be all out of ignorance of what God’s Kingdom entails.
Those whom Jesus provided with keys of Peter, are not ordinary and are greater than any of the prophets who ever lived (Matthew 11:11). They are a royal priesthood, which is above the, hitherto, known priesthood in Jewish religion (1 Peter 2:9). The revelation of God’s children, as hinted in Romans 8:19-24, implies that God’s children cannot be easily identified, just as those of this world could also not identify Jesus Christ.
However, the true children of God recognize themselves as such. Due to rampant deceptions everywhere, in the Christian world, everyone with a label of Christianity may identify him/herself as God’s child. But the distinguishing mark is in obeying or not obeying the King’s word. This calls for analyzing Jesus’ words, line by line and applying what Jesus taught, regardless of the established authorities’ teachings.
This may not be easy for most people, as used to simply obeying instructions from those considered to be above them, other than Jesus Christ. But it is important to know that true Christianity has got nothing to do with personal comfort (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus said: “Not everyone can receive this saying of mine, but only those to whom it is given” (Matthew 19:10-11). His instructions were not popular, even to those who were His close disciples. The truth is that there is no way anyone can just call him/herself Christian, without anything to sacrifice, in order to obey the King. This calls for breaking ranks with the crowd and walking according to the King’s commands.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99