As we move further into discovering heaven’s Culture, Jesus desires us to live within, we need to come to grips with the fact that we probably know very little because we all wear glasses that filter everything He did and said . . .
- The filter of the Christian Religion
- The filter of our own local and national cultural mindsets
- The filter of the attitudes of this world’s system (see the previous blog)
- And even the filter of how we were raised in our homes and family settings
I’ve been trying to step back and simply see Jesus and His message fresh, anew. To be honest, it’s a crazy, upside down kingdom. It’s unlike anything from this world. If we really lived this stuff out, it would cause a revolution, challenging the status quo in every arena of life! I think we’ve become much too tame. We’ve let the world and our religious backgrounds keep us from seeing the complete otherness of His life and message! He’s not different, He’s other! His kingdom is not OF this world, but it is IN this world! Let’s try to take a look at Jesus and His message with fresh lenses and discover the culture of heaven.
Have you ever pondered the way Jesus, our King, entered His domain? If it was me, I would have come in on flaming chariots with the heralding of the most glorious angels blowing trumpets saying, “Hail the King. The King has arrived.” I would have prepared the biggest celestial light show and a magnificent heavenly fanfare so that men of all tribes and tongues would have immediately recognized me and submitted to my lordship.
Not Jesus. Not in His Kingdom. Jesus chose to be conceived inside the body of a young teenage girl and be BORN as a tiny baby, in a small Jewish village, to parents of very humble means, in almost complete obscurity. The angelic announcement was made to a small group of shepherds in fields with no one but sheep to discuss the matter with. Kings did come to visit Him, but they left in anonymity and disappeared silently into history. It appears He lived quietly for the first few years in a small rented house in Bethlehem, disappeared into Egypt, and then lived in anonymity with His parents until He bursts on the scene at around 30 years of age.
Why this entrance? His entrance IS the very essence of the good news and culture of this Kingdom. He came to a world where people feared Yahweh with such a terrible fear and were so weighed down by the thousands of needless laws that they had no hope of approaching Him let alone having any form of relationship with Him. God was a far off, unapproachable Being who had little genuine concern for their lives.
But a baby, a tiny, defenseless baby. Born in a barn. Born to the poor of society. Growing up in a simple village with a simple way of life. The message . . .
He is approachable – He is available – He understands your life; your pain – He cares – He is near – He is a God, a Savior, a King utterly unlike anything imagined. He is Jesus, the Messiah, the King. His very entrance into the world shouts that the way of this King and the culture of His Kingdom is utterly unlike anything Mankind has ever seen. It is the very opposite spirit of this world.
Then as He burst onto the panorama opening His ministry, He did everything backwards, choosing methods that seemed so contrary to the purposes of building a great Kingdom. He chose the garment of obscurity. His very brothers knew what He should do. In John 7 they tell Him to go the big feast in Jerusalem and do His miracles there so that everyone would believe. Go, put on a show. Show the world who You are! What did Jesus do? He responded, “My time has not yet come,” and would not go up until later. He chose the mantle full humanity as Messiah. In His hometown twice, they stumbled over His humanity and did not believe, and the religious leaders were often offended at how social He was eating and drinking and enjoying Himself just a little too much. Messiah surely wouldn’t be THIS human!
He chose the cloak of a Jewish Rabbi. If He would have come in any other form than a rabbi, maybe, just maybe the Jewish elite would have recognized Him, but a rabbi? There were other rabbis who healed in His day. There were other rabbis who cast out demons, and there were other rabbis who said things like, “You have heard that it was said. . . but I say to you.”
And above all, He chose the vessels of ordinary people to be His closest companions and disciples. After His resurrection when Peter and John found themselves before the very court that crucified Jesus, it was recorded, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and recognized that they were ordinary, uneducated men, they realized that they had been with Jesus.” He was even known as the friend of sinners. You know why? Because He was a friend of sinners – He liked them. He enjoyed them. He loved them and couldn’t stop being with them. He rocked their world with friendship!
Everything about His methods shouts of a wholly other kind of Kingdom and a wholly other kind of culture He was instilling into the fabric of human life. He was not just different. He was other!
His Kingly Entrance
Have you ever stopped to think of the Triumphal Entry – the day He entered Jerusalem as Messiah just before His death? He entered on a baby donkey! Now that evokes fear and obedience to a mighty king! Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” Why would you say this to the daughter of Zion? Because it declares a King unlike anything we have ever imagined, and it reveals a Kingdom unlike anything from this world.
His Final Act
His final act as Messiah before the Cross was to strip naked, wrap a towel around His waist and sit on the floor washing His Friend’s feet. What is this saying to us? What is the message about the Culture of this Kingdom, the Kingdom of God? After He dresses again and reclined at the table with His followers, He said, “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,” (Luke 22:28-29). He bestowed upon them a Kingdom, but what was going through their minds about this Kingdom they were receiving and called to advance? He had just stripped naked and washed their feet and asked them to do the same!
His Greatest Victory
And then comes His final act, His most powerful deathblow to the world, the flesh and the devil; His ultimate act of victory through which He destroyed the power of every other Kingdom opposing Him. He died. Death is the moment in this life when weakness and mortality and all of the powers of this fallen world win. Death is the instance when everything you have lived for vanishes. Death is that event which marks your end. Not in His Kingdom. It was in His greatest moment of ‘weakness and defeat’ that He won the ultimate victory. Weakness, surrender, and even death are the ultimate weapons of power and victory. My friends, this Kingdom is not of this world. This Kingdom is from another realm and has a lifestyle and weapons that are so powerful and yet they appear the very opposite spirit of this world.
In Jesus’ life, He shouted this message, “My Kingdom is not from here. It is from there. The way we live, the power of this thing is so opposite, so other, so different than life here. I have come to bring heaven’s way, heaven’s lifestyle, heaven’s culture to earth. Follow Me!”
And in the words of the Roman soldier at His Cross, “Surely, this was the Son of God!”