Summary: Christ was crucified and raised from the dead to deliver a people for His Name into His eternal Kingdom.

In the midst of darkness, God’s glory blazes. When evil appears to triumph, grace prevails. When dark denizens of this fallen world convince themselves they have defeated grace, righteousness conquers. These themes are written large in accounts provided of the brief hours leading to the crucifixion and then emphasised by the Resurrection of the Saviour. Christ the Lord conquered death, setting free all who look to Him for salvation. Christ the Lord is alive; and because He lives, we too will live [cf. JOHN 14:19], if we have received His sacrifice in our place. He gave His life because of our helpless condition. Now, He calls all who will receive Him as Master over life to freedom.

Recall the Apostle’s statement of reality delivered as he wrote to Christians in Colossae. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” [COLOSSIANS 2:8-15]. [1]

The scene portrayed in the text played out almost two millennia past. In the Praetorium, Pilate’s headquarters, the Roman Perfect is seated on his judgement seat. Before this powerful representative of the sole super power then ruling the known world stands a nondescript man of no more than thirty years of age. As a prisoner, the man is bound [see MARK 15:1], armed guards watching his every move. The man was seized by armed men dispatched by the Jewish Council. There had been a hastily called quasi-hearing, more of a kangaroo court than anything, before that council. Then, the man was sent to Pilate. Pilate felt he had no jurisdiction over the case, so he had sent the prisoner to Herod. Herod gave what was at best a cursory examination, more out of curiosity than serious investigation, before sending him back to Pilate. The entire time, the chief priests and scribes had moved from court-to-court, clamouring for the prisoner to be executed. Now, the man, unusually calm and unnaturally quiet, stands again before Pilate.

“Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice’” [JOHN 18:33-37].

THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD — The principle guiding all the kingdoms of this world can be described by one word—“self.” Mankind’s temptations always appeal to the self; we hold exalted opinions concerning our own person, concerning our nationality, concerning our culture, concerning our race and even concerning the Faith to which we adhere. That we overestimate our own importance (and the importance of all with which we are associated) should be no surprise since the first temptation mankind experienced was through appeal to the self. John warns followers of the Master, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world” [1 JOHN 2:15, 16 NET BIBLE].

When the Apostle of Love applied the cautionary statement just read, he may well have had in mind our first parents succumbing to the devil, plunging the race into ruin. “[The serpent] said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” [GENESIS 3:1b-6].

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