Day 24

Not of This World

from the John reading plan


John 18:1-40, Daniel 7:14


To us it makes perfect sense that Jesus’ Kingdom would be “not of this world.” That’s how we’ve always understood and encountered the Kingdom of God. Not so for Pilate and all the Jewish leaders gathered at Jesus’ midnight interrogation.

Jesus was crucified under a sign that mockingly read “King of the Jews.” To many who were present on that day, that sign was an indictment of Jesus’ failed earthly political revolution. Based upon their best understanding of Old Testament prophecy and the teachings that had been handed down to them, the Jews were expecting a political military revolutionary who would overthrow the oppressive Roman governance of Israel. They were hoping for a new King David; a heroic, military, warrior king.

It’s easier for us now to think of Jesus’ Kingdom in spiritual and future terms, but on the day of His arrest, we can see even by Peter’s behavior that many were expecting to take up arms to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. This of course was not Jesus’ way. It was such an unexpected moment when Jesus announced that His Kingdom was not of this world.

What does this mean for us? It means that we, as Kingdom people, are experiencing portions of the Kingdom now, but that we also await its future and full arrival. Jesus’ death and resurrection inaugurated the Kingdom of God. Because of this we now live “in the world, but not of it.” It’s an odd ache, a disquieting tension that I’m willing to wager most of us have felt from time to time. We are “not of this world” people, living, working, and dwelling on this earth.

C. S. Lewis described this sort of longing best in his book Till We Have Faces:

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”

That longing we possess is a sign that we are in the midst of a massive redemptive mystery. We stand in a moment between the resurrection of the Lord and His much anticipated final return. This moment is full of hardship, but also characterized by an immense sense of hope. To be “not of this world” means that you’re going to feel like a square peg in a round hole some days. Other times, it may just feel like an unquenchable wanderlust, or itchy feet.

Travel is a wonderful thing, but our hunger for the right place—the most beautiful place, the place where we feel home and whole—is ever elusive. That’s because our King and His Kingdom are not of this world’s making. This can be hard to wrap our heads and hearts around, but we know it will be satisfying in an eternal and everlasting way when the Kingdom of God is fully realized. From then on, it will be all we ever know. But for now, because the coming Kingdom is real, we ache. May the longing be sweet.

Written By Andrew Stoddard

Post Comments (3)

3 thoughts on "Not of This World"

  1. Phil says:

    Three things that today’s devotional made me think about:

    1. Many people judge Peter for denying Christ. But I think that a lot of people, if they had been placed in his same position, would have done the same thing. If Peter admitted to being with Christ he would have been killed. How much easier would it be to “deny” Jesus to save your own life, knowing full well in your heart that you truly still did believe in Him and follow Him? So don’t sit and judge Peter for doing something in a situation you have never been in. I pray that if I was ever in a situation like that, that I would be like Daniel’s three best friends when King Nebuchadnezzar challenged them on their faith in Jesus.. they could have easily taken the knee when everyone else did and simply “not actually worshipped another God”, but rather, even in the face of death, they held true to their faith and didn’t make any compromise for Jesus; because He wouldn’t make any compromises for us either, He died for us!

    2. Not of this world. Although Jesus said that we are not of this world, that does not excuse us from this world! Many people often live only in anticipation for God’s glory and going to heaven. They miss out on part of the Kingdom God has here on earth as well for us. There are people that need His good word, that need us to be an example of Christ’s love for them, that need us to be leaders in our faith. What we do on this earth, for God, only further enhances the kingdom of Heaven; so don’t miss out on it.

    3. 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

    This always takes me back.. even Pilate saw that Jesus was not guilty of any wrong doing, and following the law of that day, he even gave them the ability to set Jesus free… and the people still chose otherwise.

  2. Ken Fuller says:

    Goodrflections, Phil! I miss others posting most days as I go through this early in the morning. But I’m a day behind right now.

    The only part of reading I marked was John 18:37. “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.”” Jesus’ response in other translations is “You say right that I am a king” – acknowledging that Pilate was hitting on something others were missing. Why had they (and really even Pilate) missed it? They were not under the influence of truth. Where is each of us today? It has everything to do with how we perceive the work of God in our world today.

  3. Kevin says:

    May the longing be sweet.. we wait and wait in a world so much greater than that we live in now. The little glimpses of God that we see here our building up to the wild reveal of his kingdom in heaven. May we not be someone who denies our God, but one that we give all glory and wonderfulness to.

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