Monday, September 26, 2016

Day 162: John 6:1-21 & Psalm 18 - Why Didn't Jesus Want to be King?

Today's Reading: John 6:1-21 & Psalm 18

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Why Didn't Jesus Want to be King?

"Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself." - John 6:15, ESV

So often, Jesus' actions in the Gospels just didn't make sense according to our way of thinking. Today's passage is a perfect example: After feeding 5,000 people miraculously and finally being recognized by the crowd ("“This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”), Jesus withdrew Himself from them because they were going to make Him their king. 

Wait a minute! Jesus is the King, isn't He? Why would being made king of the Jews by a popular uprising be such a bad thing? After all, Jesus would've been a good king and could've solved many of the structural injustices and oppressive systems plaguing God's people. So, why didn't He do it?

Because settling for an earthly political kingdom would have kept Him from the cross and would have left us unforgiven, unreconciled to God and eternally condemned. In other words, He loved us too much to abandon our eternal salvation in exchange for some practical solutions to earthly problems.

The mission of Jesus today has not changed. When He was here, He set His face toward the cross, where He would pay for our sins and purchase our redemption back to God. Today, He sends out His people to take up our cross and call people to His cross where they can be forgiven and redeemed. To the world, this kind of mission still doesn't make any sense. Sadly, many of God's people are still trying to make Jesus an earthly king.

Some would-be king-makers want Jesus to lead their political party to victory in the next election, so their people can get their agenda passed in Washington, DC. Surely Jesus is in favor of their good political aims, right? Other king-makers twist the Gospel to make it more about relieving poverty and injustice in this world and not about the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to a holy God. Jesus does care for the poor, and the Bible has much to tell us about injustice, but to shift away from proclaiming the Gospel to a substitute "shalom"-driven social gospel would be to condemn people eternally in the pursuit of making their lives here and now a little better.

It is a serious step down from His present position for Jesus to be enthroned on Capitol Hill in DC. It is a serious neglect of people's truest and deepest need to withhold the Gospel and instead given them only political empowerment or poverty relief. Jesus has sent His disciples into the world to proclaim the good news of salvation in His name and to demonstrate the power of this good news by loving each other and loving our neighbors. We need to pursue His mission in the world and stop trying to make Him king.

Prayer Based on Psalm 18:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies. - Psalm 18:1-3

Heavenly Father, it is so wonderful to have You as my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock, my Refuge, my Shield, the Horn of my Salvation and my Stronghold. Only You are strong enough to protect me. Only You are powerful enough to save me. And You love me and surround me and deliver me from all of my enemies. I praise You!

Give me the grace to call upon You in my moments of need and in my moments of seeming safety. Let me never grow complacent but always seek You, my Redeemer.

For You save a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes You bring down.
For it is You who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
You are my God—Your way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    You are a shield for all those who take refuge in You.

Father, surround Your people with Your power and bless Your people with Your mighty peace. In Jesus' powerful name, Amen!

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