The Heavenly Kingdom on Earth

THE HEAVENLY KING III

Jesus, the Heavenly King, entered the world as a baby and not as a conquering hero! Like any other human being, Jesus grew into Manhood. He lived through and faced the most difficult troubles and tragedies, which beset some of the most misfortunate people in the world. Jesus was blamed and He was feared for the misfortunes of others. Jesus was betrayed by a friend. While Jesus had withdrawn to Gethsemane to pray with his disciples, Jesus was arrested. When Judas brought the temple guards to arrest Jesus, one of the disciples struck the high priest’s servant and Jesus said this:

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook him and fled (Matthew 26:52-56).

The Jewish people were hoping for another Moses or David. However, God sent them a “Baby” who would grow up in human conditions and circumstances to become a King. The world was not prepared for a showdown with a King from heaven. The world barely was able to sustain a “Baby” in the mighty Roman Empire. Judea, itself, was hostile and unprepared for a grown Jesus. Both, Luke and Matthew reported how unprepared the leaders of Judah were:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child and while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in  a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Now when they had departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and too the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by thewise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.”

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his other, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:1-23).

Jesus grew up like any other Jewish boy. Jesus grew up in Jewish traditions and He showed early signs in religious interests:

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom ad in stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:41-52).

Like others, Jesus acquired a trade and an education. He became a craftsman and a teacher equipped with skills and know-how’s. Jesus especially was skilled in treating the sick people, as a physician would. All three evangelists agreed that Jesus had left Nazareth. Jesus was recognized for his skills and understanding. When He returned to Nazareth, He was welcomed as a prophet and a teacher in their synagogue. He was an established teacher with students. It was during His absence from Nazareth that Jesus had become recognized for His skills and His teachings. But when He touched people and they were miraculously healed, they were not just offended, but they dragged Him up a cliff and intended to kill Him. Jesus was not a carpenter who built homes, for homes were built out of bricks and clay. Matthew used the Greek word “tektonos” and Mark used “tekton” twice. The word means a technician or a trained craftsman who build carts on wheels or fine furniture. His ability to read, preach, to share His insight to teach proved that, what the Prophet Isaiah predicted, came to pass in Jesus. But when His medical skills surpassed their own, they were disturbed by Jesus’ actions. They could not accept the idea that God may have chosen “One of their own” to be the “One” who could change their lives and their circumstances. The incident and encounter between Jesus and his people, in Nazareth, is similar in Matthew 13:54-58 and in Mark 6:1-6. We chose Mark for being the oldest account:

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief (Mark 6:1-6).

The Evangelist Luke gave a lengthy account of Jesus being home in Nazareth with his people. Jesus was ready to share the Good News God the Father has sent Him to bring to them. Jesus sensed their coldness and their indifference, and He reminded them of the time when Elijah was sent to a poor widow, and Elisha to Naaman the Syrian. They violently responded and almost killed Jesus:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where is was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.’” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away (Luke 4:16-30).

Jesus was a man with real feelings! And Jesus loved Nazareth, his family, and his friends. Some must have changed their opinion of Him and a large crowd interfered with His meal. However, some friends wanted to put Jesus in a madhouse because they regarded Him as being “beside himself.” Some scribes had come from Jerusalem and convinced these friends that Jesus was “possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of of demons.” To defend His “insult to injury,” Jesus exchanged some harsh words with the scribes and misguided friends. It was an accusation that Jesus and his followers must expected to face.

Then he went home; and the crowd came together, so that they could not even eat. And when his friends heard it, they went out to seize him, for they said, “He is beside himself.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds  the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:19b-30).

Being the Son of God, one would presume that Jesus could have circumvented the law of nature and taken certain privileges. No doubt, many believers in Christ and in God, hope that they would alter the course of evil and satisfy the hunger man has for food and for justice. But that was precisely what Jesus did not do, nor does Jesus want his followers to have that power. Jesus refused to inject Godly activity, which undermines the laws of nature by which man earns his bread, learns to overcome gravity, and manages his affairs without supernatural interference of any kind. Jesus the Christ, unlike Adam, did not succumb to Satan’s deception! Jesus also proved that the natural man had all the attributes required to be the “image” and “likeness of God” in the world. The tendency to want God to step in and heal our wounds and alleviate our problems, requires that God be partial to an individual or even to a nation. God cannot, and God does not favor one person or one nation over against another. God could not save “His Only Begotten Son” from death. God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). “For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11). And God did not take the cup of suffering from His Son, but the Son had to submit to God’s Will. Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Both accounts of Satan’s attempt to sway Jesus are nearly identical. We only quote Luke’s version:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “f you are the  Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and he said to him, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

During the trial Jesus held on to God’s Word in Deuteronomy 8:3: “that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus obeyed His own Commandment to be baptized, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus went to John the Baptist and insisted that He be baptized:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-17).

Jesus regarded the Law and the Ten Commandments as essential prerequisite for the new members of the Kingdom of God. What a person does with the Law, determines his status in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to free the Law from the traditions of the fathers, who had obliterated the Law (Mark 7:9-13). The Greek word “plerosai” means to bring the Law back to its original form:

Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).

The writer to the Hebrews gave his readers a glimpse as to why Jesus had to be exposed to the life of a priest or a servant of God. Jesus was human, because gods do not die, nor can they save man without the help of another human being:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us them with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He an deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; as he say also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 4:14-5:10).

The conclusion is that Jesus the Savior had to become “Human” in order to lead man back to God, and restore the “image and likeness of God” in man:

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to the fullness of life 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 flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:9-12).