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Friday, December 25, 2015

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 30

The Power and Challenge of the Kingdom of God

Read Luke 9:27; Acts 1:1-3

"There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."  "... by the space of forty days ... speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God." The theme with which the Apostles were being occupied by the Lord during the forty days after His resurrection - the theme of the risen Lord - was the kingdom of God.

The Battle of Two Kingdoms In Our Lord's Earthly Life

Looking back into the years of His life from the Jordan to the Cross, we can see that, in His own personal case during that time, the battle of two kingdoms was going on. Along various lines and through various instrumentalities, influences were being brought to bear upon Him. He was moving within a circle of forces and activities the object and direction of which was set to get Him to have a kingdom. At the very beginning, the conflict with the adversary in the wilderness during the forty days and nights headed right up to that issue. "The devil ... showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said to unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:8, 9). His own disciples were constantly pressing upon Him with their Messianic mentality and expectation, making it very difficult for Him in this way - that He knew they were as yet such children spiritually that it would be a disaster to disillusion them too quickly and disappoint their expectations and hopes. Those expectations, hopes and visions, and all that they included for these men, were for the Lord like barbed wire all the time pricking Him. He could hardly say anything of a disillusioning character but at once the disciples were offended, questioning, thrown all over the place, even to revolt. The crowd, the hysterical multitude, on one occasion would come and take Him by force and make Him king. There is something all along, putting it back, rejecting, repudiating; and it was no easy thing. At the last, as He stood before Pilate, when the accusation against Him was that He said that He was a king, Pilate said, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" and Jesus said, "My kingdom is not out from this world system: if My kingdom were out from this world system, then would My servants fight ... but now is My kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). It was the repudiation of a kingdom; which meant that inwardly He was standing for another. It was not the repudiation of the Kingdom. He was fighting all the way along against a false for a true, against a temporal for a spiritual; but the powers that existed were seeking to precipitate this other matter, to get Him involved in a kingdom which was not His real one. You can easily see what an involving it would have been. Suppose He had capitulated, accepted a kingdom out from this system, put Himself on this level; well, a little thought at once betrays the sinister nature of the pressure, the offer. No, He was not accepting the framework which embodied the kingdom of satan - that is what it amounted to. Within the kingdom out from this system satan, the prince of this world, was established, and the Lord was not accepting that at all. Through all these temptations, even though they might come through the lips and by the mistaken zeal of a beloved and devoted disciple of the inner circle - no other than Simon Peter himself - He was adamant. On that very matter of His going up to Jerusalem and being delivered into the hands of men to be crucified, when the human counsel is "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall never be unto Thee," the instant rejoinder is, "Get thee behind Me, satan" (Matthew 16:21-23). He sees satan entrenched in the very suggestion, and that is not the kingdom the Lord will accept. There would be a kingdom which He would have, but not of that kind.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 31 - (The Kingdom Recaptured for God Through the Cross)

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