Monday, September 9, 2013

Retaliation is not a part of the Kingdom

by Gregory A. Johnson

Retaliation is not a part of the Kingdom, by Gregory A. Johnson
Although the people of Jesus' day were looking for a messiah to come and relieve them from Roman oppression, Jesus did not come and bring the war they anticipated their messiah to bring; He brought peace. The people were not looking for peace; they were looking for retaliation against the oppressors and occupying forces of their day, but retaliation is not a part of the Kingdom—peace is. Because of this, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

There is peace in the Kingdom that is established in Jesus, and there is no one better to reveal the peace of the Kingdom than Jesus Himself. The prophet Isaiah told of Jesus coming into our world as Sar-Shalom—the Hebrew word for Prince of Peace: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

At His birth, the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14).

As He entered Jerusalem one last time heading to a cross to suffer and die, the multitudes of people that lined the dusty road sang, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38).

The angels sang of peace on earth pointing to Kingdom now; the people sang of peace in heaven pointing to Kingdom future.

In the Gospels we see that Jesus' words and actions reveal the peace of His Kingdom to us. That peace is harmony, tranquility, and well-being with the absence of war.

In the greatest sermon ever preached, which most are familiar with as The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives distinct attributes of those who are citizens of the Kingdom that is established in Him. We refer to a set of these distinct attributes as The Beatitudes. Jesus preached, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Further on in Jesus' sermon He says, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you" (Matthew 5:38-42).

Jesus practiced what He preached! Preacher and teacher John R. W. Stott (1921 - 2011) said, "Jesus Christ is a peacemaker. So, if we want to be God's children and Christ's disciples, we must be peacemakers too" (Stott 2008). Stott's statement is true, but does not answer the big question—How do we do it? We are born with a sinful nature that is bent on retaliation and not peace. How do we become peacemakers? That's the big question, and it is a good question. To answer the question, we will need to follow Jesus as He reveals Kingdom peace through His words and actions.

Excerpted from the book, The Kingdom According to Jesus by Gregory A. Johnson. Copyright © by Gregory A. Johnson. All rights reserved.