This was an exercise a group of us did at a class in church. When you hear the word “kingdom,” what do you think of?
When you hear “kingdom of God,” what do you think of?
Holy Week is about a clash between two visions of kingdom. One is the kingdoms of this world that have existed throughout history. The other is the kingdom of God, which Jesus stood for.
Take a look at the list associated with kingdom. What would you add to it?
Take a look at the list associated with kingdom of God. What would you add to it?
What is most striking about the differences between the two?
I see the kingdoms of this world operating by strictly maintaining hierarchies with power and wealth. Hierarchy makes it easier to maintain order. We can hardly even imagine a kingdom being able to function without a king, someone who dominates everyone, and gives wealth, titles, land, and freedom to those he/she sees fit. But Jesus called us to imagine a different kind of kingdom. One where greatness is measured by love and service, not wealth and power. A kingdom distinguished by peace, acceptance, and joy, where freedom is for all, and no one lives in need because abundance is shared rather than hoarded by a few. And he offered us this kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Which do we prefer? Sunday, we were shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” But on Friday, we will shout “Crucify! Crucify!” We welcomed him as a king but a king who would destroy our enemies. When he refused to seize power and take the kingdom by force, and he loved the people we hated, we rejected him. We would rather crucify Jesus than live in the kingdom of God with him. That is the hard truth we need to wrestle with during Holy Week.