God’s Kingdom and its values

WHEN we talk about Easter, we are talking about the promotion of the Kingdom of God and its values.

The Kingdom of God was the message that Jesus preached about. When He died and rose again, He was not the only one preaching about the Kingdom; His followers tried to preach about Jesus Himself. So the Messenger of the Kingdom became the Message of the Kingdom.

Jesus was the best example of how a member of the Kingdom should live and how he or she should display God’s ways in our lives.

What type of Kingdom did Jesus lead? What type of Kingdom did He promote?

According to the Scriptures, He was a king whose standard was the Cross. He saw himself as a servant willing to suffer for His people. When we follow someone whose standard is the Cross, we know that this walk won’t be easy.

For all Christians in Fiji, and especially for our Methodist community, I urge you this Easter to reflect on this fact, that when we walk The Way of our Lord Jesus Christ, the standard is the Cross. It won’t be easy. We will have to go through difficult times, but that is part and parcel of The Way. The suffering and death that Jesus went through was seen as a full and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world and of mankind.

Unlike the others who entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday — Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea and Samaria, entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers in a show of force to ensure that the Passover did not lead to any violence, political or otherwise; and Herod Antipas, who ruled over Galilee and was appointed as tetrarch by Roman Emperor Augustus, hoping for further recognition of his traditional status by the Emperor so to add more land under his rule – Jesus, who had entered Jerusalem in a more humble fashion, on a donkey and followed not by soldiers or royal court, but by a peasant class.

While the others were trying to protect the status quo, and promote their own agendas, the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus was part of the Kingdom message, that this Kingdom was open for everyone.

This perfect sacrifice of Jesus signified the Divine Love that God has for us. In the cross, the love story was centred on God and how God through Jesus the Christ, suffered to save the human race. That is still going on today. This God who suffered for so long with humankind, to restore that broken relationship, to bring them back into the fold, was doing this all for His love for humankind.

This sacrifice, the Cross, was a sign of the lengths that God would go through, in order to free us from our sins and restore us from our brokenness. Forgiveness comes to us with a great price, the price that Jesus had to pay: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34).

Secondly, I would like us to consider that the Cross is like a mirror. When we are in this season and remember the Cross, the Cross is like a mirror to our souls. The Cross is our story, it’s the human story. We, like sheep, are lost and have gone astray.

Something has been broken in this relationship and we recall the broken relationship between Adam and Eve and God. That brokenness was still with us, and in the Cross we find redemption and are led to experience God’s Grace.

The Cross also leads us to gratitude, to happiness and awe. It leads to the love of Christ; that we must love Christ because of the depth of His desire to save us from our sins and our need to follow His Way and His life. It leads us to want to walk and talk with our Lord and to follow the footsteps of Christ, and to be members and citizens of the Kingdom of God. I want to love Christ as He loved me. I want to practise what He had done and to follow His Way.

So what kind of King was this Christ Jesus? The type of king who rode on a donkey; a king who was humble enough to bring Himself down; a king who was the very Son of God, coming to help us; a king who was anointed by a prostitute, whose subjects were those people who were outcasts, rejected by Jewish society. He was a king whose enthronement was his crucifixion.

The enthronement or installations of the “kings” of today don’t happen that way. Yet with God, this was the way His Son was enthroned: nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns placed on His battered and bruised head, with a sign placed contemptuously above Him reading: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews” (John 19:20). He was a king who endured; a king who suffered for everyone.

Jesus is calling us. He is calling for authentic followers. He is not calling for religious hypocrites. He is calling us today to be authentic in our intention to follow Him. His way is a way that requires compassion: compassion for the hungry, compassion for the thirsty, compassion for the naked, compassion for the pushed out and the forgotten. His path is a path of servant-hood. The servant-hood discipleship that we are called to undertake, is a call for us Christians to work like Jesus Christ — giving His life, sacrificing His life, because he loves people.

And following Him means taking up His Cross, with all the hurt and the difficulties that we may face because of that cross, and following His path, confident and comforted in the knowledge that He is with you until the end of the age. This is my plea to you all this Easter – take up His Cross and follow Him.

May you all have a blessed Easter as we celebrate the Son of God’s sacrificial and redeeming love in His crucifixion on Good Friday and His defeat of sin and death and fear in His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

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