Today's Devotional

Two Kingdoms in Conflict (23 February)

Pilate went back into the palace and called Jesus. "Are you the king of the Jews?" he asked him. Jesus answered, "Does this question come from you or have others told you about me?" Pilate replied, "Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people and the chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus said, "My kingdom does not belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my kingdom does not belong here!" So Pilate asked him, "Are you a king, then?"
John 18:33-37

Jesus was charged with claiming to be a king. Yes, Jesus is the King of Kings, but he rules over a different kind of kingdom, one not from this world. For this reason the world rejected him.

When Jesus was brought to trial, the people rejected him in accordance with their political systems, where power, darkness, and greed reign. In our world, if you are not a wolf, wolves will devour you. The law of power and the principle of vengeance are wide-spread. The people refused their King because they wanted a political powerhouse, a national leader, a hero who would liberate them from their enemies. They wanted someone who would heal their physical bodies and fill their tables with food and drink. They did not want a king who called them to self denial, hatred of greed, and loving one's enemies. It is no different today, and it is no wonder that our land is under constant threat of war and there is so much division.

When Jesus was brought to trial, the people chose the worldly kingdom, one filled with religiosity, hypocrisy, law-centeredness, and haughty, superficial self-righteousness. In the kingdom of this world they wash the cup on the outside without caring what is inside. Justice and mercy are overlooked for the sake of obeying the letter of "the law." Jesus repeatedly challenged the religious men, and it is no wonder they didn't like him.

Throughout the trial of Jesus the rulers and religious and political leaders took turns in judging the King. It was darkness judging light, the kingdom of this world opposing the kingdom of heaven. These two kingdoms cannot survive side by side: the way of thinking and living exemplified by Jesus and his disciples present a clear threat to the world's religious and political systems.

Where do we choose to stand? With darkness or with light? By whose law will we live? "The light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil." (John 3:19) The Good News is that Jesus rose in victory from the dead, and he was crowned King of Kings. His kingdom is eternal and his authority never ends. Trust him today. Follow the light and live by the laws of the kingdom of heaven. There you will find peace, rest, and reconciliation.

© 2012 United Bible Societies - Palestinian Bible Society, Bible Society in Israel, and Arab Israeli Bible Society. All rights reserved.