Jesus the King of Another Kingdom


After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20)

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday in the church year and also a celebration of the power and glory of King Jesus. As we look at text above, we see Jesus as the One who brings the kingdom of God. When Jesus brings God’s kingdom there is a direct conflict with rival kingdoms of this earth. What is a kingdom? Let me offer a definition that is simple and clear. A kingdom is any area or sphere in which someone or something holds a position of power to implement their will or way.

We may not think of kingdoms much in our lives today, but we still have them. We just use different terms. We say things like the president governs the nation, the principal runs the school, or the parents maintain the household. We say things like Jeremiah or Leticia has their clique of friends. We may not think of our own lives this way, but it is also true that we are, in a sense, the ruler of the kingdom of our lives. We hold power in our lives to implement our own will or way, or to yield that will to another. We certainly encounter all sorts of kingdoms today, even though we may not use that specific word.

Rival earthly kingdoms (1:14)

Returning to Mark 1, we sense the urgency of the author’s writing. Mark does not take time to explain what happened to John the Baptist, only that he “was put in prison.” For the back story, we must turn to Mark 6, where we read that Herod Antipas, the ruler over Galilee and Perea, imprisoned John the Baptist. Herod Antipas imprisoned John because John was critical of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s ex-wife. Later on, this criticism indirectly leads to John’s death. Herod represents all the power and authority of human kingdoms who do what they want and manipulate others for their own gain. Herod’s life and rule certainly fit our definition of a kingdom: “any area or sphere in which someone or something holds a preeminent position.”

In his life, Herod lived like he knew he held preeminent position in the area of Galilee, if not beyond. That’s why he arrests John the Baptist when he criticizes something Herod did. Despots don’t like criticism. But Herod’s rival earthly kingdom also brings about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The lurching forward of Herod’s hand to imprison John becomes the momentum that leads Jesus to step forward in ministry around Galilee. And it is in light of this rival earthly kingdom that Jesus pronounces God’s kingdom is near.

Jesus declares that, in the midst of the power struggles around Galilee and all Judea, He presents a different sort of way. It is a kingdom that is under the preeminent rule of God, and this is something people longed for. This inbreaking rule of God was promised throughout Scriptures: that God would one day reign over Israel Himself. In fact, in and around Jesus’ time a wide variety of rebellions were directly linked to expectations of God’s kingdom coming.

But Jesus is presenting a different sort of way. It is the kingdom of God that comes hidden, humble, and yet full of power.

Rival personal kingdoms (1:18, 20)

There are other sorts of kingdoms, however. As Jesus turns from the context of Herod’s power struggle with John and proclaims His message, He immediately comes into contact with four men. In Mark 1:16-20 Jesus walks beside the Sea of Galilee and calls Simon (who we know as Peter), Andrew, James and John to follow Him. We will return to Jesus’ calling and message to them, but let’s talk for a bit about where these men stood. They were under no impression that they had authority like Herod Antipas. They were not trying to become the next president of the United States. But they still lived in their own personal kingdom.

Yet just as Jesus’ message began to strike against Herod’s kingdom, so Jesus’ message strikes against the personal kingdoms of these men’s lives. You see, a kingdom is any area or sphere in which someone or something holds a position of power, and these men were kings over the kingdom of their own lives: kingdoms of fishing and business, kingdoms of overseeing hired men and working with their families, kingdoms of their daily words and actions, and the kingdoms of their interior lives.

Now, there is nothing wrong with these sort of kingdoms in and of themselves, but we have to recognize them for what they are. They are areas or spheres in which someone or something holds a position of power, and Jesus has arrived declaring that the kingdom of God holds sway over all rival kingdoms. God is the king and He holds no rivals.

Even in our personal kingdoms, God is calling us to recognize His rule and authority.

Rival powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15)

Later on in Scripture, the Apostle Paul describes the work of Jesus Christ in this way: He “disarmed the powers and authorities, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross” (Colossians 2:15). As Jesus enter the world, He is calling the world toward a new way of living. He is calling us to bring our kingdom and rule, whether large or small, under His kingdom and rule. All of the places where we have authority; all of the places where we have power; all of the places where we have a role over something…we must bring it to the feet of the King.

Jesus is the King – over all kingdoms and over all our lives. So let me ask us all to consider a a series of question today: What rival kingdoms is Jesus confronting in our world and our own lives today? What does it look like to live yielded to the kingship of Christ in our personal kingdoms? How might we enter into the reality that Jesus is King in a very personal and practical way today?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s