In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his sermon on Travels with Jesus. Here, he talks about his coming to Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God come to Earth. Here are some excerpts.
By His actions, Jesus was sending a clear message. He was saying: “I am the true King whom the Lord your God promised to send.” You can bet that not everyone in the Palm Sunday crowd understood the message correctly. Many of them, no doubt, thought – and hoped – that Jesus would now move swiftly to get rid of the Roman occupiers and establish once and for all the glorious, everlasting political kingdom of Israel. That, as we know, was not Jesus’ intent. That is not why Jesus came. His was and is a different kind of kingdom. Not a kingdom marked by military force or political power, but a kingdom of peace and love, of trust in God and loving obedience to Him.
Think about this kingdom with me for a moment. The kingdom to which Jesus calls and invites us is not a government ruled by Democrats or Republicans, by conservatives or progressives or moderates. It is not defined by which political party is in power. It is not defined by the worldview of the most influential movers and shakers in the culture. The kingdom of God is defined by the rule of God and the expression of the heart of God in the lives of ordinary people all around the world.
The kingdom of God consists of the people of God, which is what God has designed the church – His “called-out” people – to be. To paraphrase the late Eugene Peterson, the church is meant to be a “colony of heaven” in the midst of a broken, hurting world in rebellion against God. It is “a core element” – a God- ordained element – “in the strategy of the Holy Spirit for providing human witness and physical presence to the Jesus-inaugurated kingdom of God in this world. It is not that kingdom complete, but it is that kingdom” (Peterson, The Pastor: A Memoir, 110).
It’s true, there is more to the kingdom of God than the church. There is more to God’s kingdom than the institution of the church, with its various offices and structures of leadership, with its core values and vision and strategies and ministries. There is much more to God’s kingdom than the institutional church. But the kingdom of God is not less than the church. The kingdom of God is not about an institution. It is about the rule of God in the human heart. But God has ordained that we should join Him in His church as an outpost of heaven, demonstrating here on earth in our lives and relationships, in our witness and service, what life is like in the kingdom of God – of which Jesus Himself is the King.
What happened on Palm Sunday – what we must never forget or overlook in the story we tell about Jesus coming to Jerusalem – was Jesus’ public declaration of His Kingship. Jesus was not declaring His candidacy for some political office or title when He rode into the city on a donkey. He was letting Jerusalem and all its inhabitants know that He was (is) the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, the true King who comes in peace and mercy to all who will receive Him.
Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.