"My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36).
In the current political climate of the United States, it is worth reflecting on the actions and words of the only Leader who really matters. In John 18 we read that Jesus is taken captive by the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans for prosecution. Pilate, the Roman governor, stands before a bound and captive Jesus and asks, "Your own people have handed You over to me. What have you done?"
Pilate hated Jews, particularly Galilean Jews, the Jews from the region where Jesus lived. Pilate deemed Galilean Jews seditious and rebellious toward Roman rule. Just a few months earlier Pilate killed dozens of them in Jerusalem and "mingled their blood with their sacrifices" (Luke 13:1).
Pilate feared anyone who sought to subvert his political authority. Could it be that the Jewish religious leaders, desiring to curry Pilate's favor, had brought to Pilate a seditious Galilean who was rumored to be establishing His own kingdom? Could it be that this Jesus, whom the Jews had delivered to Pilate, wanted to rule the Jews in the place of Pilate? Is this why the Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate? The Roman rulers asks our Lord ...
"What have you done, Jesus of Galilee?"
Jesus responds with an answer that so convinces Pilate that Jesus is a harmless Galilean with no political ambitions, that after hearing Jesus' answer, Pilate washes his hands of the matter and says to the Jews, "I find no basis for a charge (of sedition) against this man?" (Luke 23:4). Look again at what Jesus said to Pilate. Here is Jesus' statement in full.
Pilate was convinced."My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world."(John 18:36)
Jesus was no political threat. Pilate saw a calm, relaxed Man who did not fight His arrest or the loss of His personal liberties, much less cower in fear at the threat of imprisonment or death at the hands of a Roman imperialist. Pilate knew after hearing Him, that Jesus posed no threat to the political establishment.
It is through what Jesus said to Pilate that we discover what caused Jesus to be so calm during personal persecution. It is through the principle Jesus articulated to Pilate that we can learn how He was so relaxed before a powerful Roman ruler who had already killed hundreds of Galileans.
If you are a Christian - that is, if you follow Christ's example (e.g. "Christian" means "little Christ") - you can learn from Christ's words how to stay calm during a time when the country you love seems to be falling under imperial power. You can discover in Christ's words the secret to help you stay relaxed even when threatened with the loss of personal liberties.
"My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).
What does that mean?
Contrary to what some think, Jesus did NOT say "My kingdom is not IN this world." He couldn't say that, because His kingdom is in this world. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not OF this world."
What's the difference?
Have you ever been on a plane when the oxygen masks fall? Probably not. However, if you've paid attention, you know that if the masks ever do fall, you are instructed to put it over your mouth and nose first before you ever help anyone with their mask.
Suppose you are in a plane when the oxygen masks fall. You immediately put yours on, but everyone else is shocked and surprised by the suddenness of it all, and they aren't as fast as you. In the four or five seconds between the time you get your mask on and everybody else is without it, the air in the plane is filled with a poison that instantly kills everyone else. You alone are the survivor.
You are IN a plane full of dead people, but you are not OF the dead people in the plane.
That's the difference between IN and OF.
The grace from God that enables us to be part of His Kingdom means that we live in a world full of people dead on the inside, but we ourselves are alive.
We have faith. We have hope. We have love.
We have these things when everybody else in this world is without faith, without hope, without love.
Our source of life and happiness is not found in who wins the election, or who is able through politics and power to protect our personal liberties. Our source is found in the Father who has given us His Son, and through faith in Him, we find our full and free forgiveness and our personal purpose in this world (I Corinthians 2:2 and II Corinthians 5:20). Our source of life and happiness comes from the Father who rules over all nations and kings, and from Him we find our hope no matter how dark things might seem, for He is always good and is able "to work all things for our good" (Romans 8:28). Our source only increases in its power as we come to know more fully His love for us, for from this deeper understanding of His love, we "are filled with all the fullness of God" and are in need of nothing else (Ephesians 3:14-21).
We "little Christs" ought to possess the relaxed attitude and calm confidence Christ had before Pilate during our own Presidential election process - regardless of the outcome - because "our kingdom is not of this world."
We are in it, but we are not of it.