Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Way of Christ’s Kingdom

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:1-4)
On the first day of that final week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to deliver his people. It was in fulfillment of the messianic prophecy in Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
This was the promise of deliverance for Israel. God’s Messiah King would come and defeat the enemies, removing their ability to make war. Yet, though he came to do battle, he rode in not on a warhorse but on a lowly donkey. His disciples — not only the Twelve but a whole multitude who were following him — recognized this prophetic fulfillment. They strew his way with their garments in recognition of his royalty.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38)
Their deliverance was at hand, entering into the Holy City before their eyes. The kingdom of God was breaking into the world, just as Jesus had promised, and they rejoiced greatly over it. But were they prepared for how he would bring it about?

Isaiah 42 shows us Messiah as the Servant, on whom was the Spirit of the Lord, and how he would bring justice not only to Israel but to all the nations. Not by the violence of military might — no warhorses for him — nor by riots or brash demonstrations. It would come by meekness, which is not weakness but strength revealed in gentleness. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

The kingdom of God comes by Christ’s patient endurance until it fills all the earth. It comes not by terror but by trust in him who is the hope of the nations. It comes not by military overthrow or political machination but by the cross, where Christ poured himself out for our sake and won complete victory over the real enemy. The Servant we see depicted in Isaiah 42 is the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, who is afflicted for our sake, to deliver us from our sins and make us whole with his divine peace. This is the way the kingdom of God comes and why Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday must lead to the cross on Good Friday.