Days of Triumph

9 “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.” ~ Zachariah 9:9

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When I think of Jesus Christ as King it sets a warm loving fire to my imagination for God’s mercy is endless and that is something of a wonder in my heart, mind, and soul. In that I wonder what life for Jesus was really like? I often ask myself the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to travel back into time to have seen Jesus, to have witnessed His birth, Baptismal, His anointment by Mary, His Ministry… especially when He picked the twelve disciples, His temptations by Satan.’ The moments that matter most in most Christian’s hearts is celebrated with as much religious ferber now as it was then, and that is Holy Week; the seven days preceding his crucifixion and resurrection. I feel closest to God in this time frame as do most Christians because it is here we begin to see Jesus rule over His people, sacrifice everything for His people, and ultimately demonstrate God’s perfect love for His people, all of His people which in this context is everyone alive then to now and that will ever live in sin; for His love saved all of us with His blood. We celebrate Jesus’s arrive into Jerusalem as a victory, a triumph, and His ride into the Holy City marks the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Many scholars argue about the meaning of the colt, donkey, or foal. They try and find purpose behind the acts of Christ by the connections they can make to the gospel. But it is not what Jesus rode or whether or not it was really palm branches that was used to herald His arrival, but the fact our King came in the first place and that He loved us so much that He was willing to enter into the city that He knew was ultimately going to judge then put Him to death for crimes He did not commit. In this way we can begin to see life as Jesus saw it, experience His last week on earth as a mortal man, the Son of God.

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” ~ Matthew 21:10-11

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To have seen Jesus riding into Jerusalem first hand must have been something, or at least for those who where in the know of what was happening. The fact is most people during this period of time were clueless to the real event that was going on because they where blinded by what they thought was happening. To explain this further I have to add that in life we all see events one way when they are happening to us, then see them completely different many years later. But rarely do we ever see the underpinning facts of the event which caused it to happen in the first place in the moment, and if we could see the “WHY” that is driving the event we could have the chance, (the choice), to do something completely different. Again, few people in this period of time understood what was really happening as they could plainly see the “WHY” of Jesus, His mission and ministry, they saw first hand within the moment His ultimate goal and stood by Him until His arrest. Jesus on several occasions revealed this secret to His disciples, and all but one rebuked the idea and questioned the “Why” of His death. They say it was love they felt for Him that made them not want to see Him killed. But Jesus saw this in a completely different way. Judas Iscariot understood it and put the plan into action, as he was the only one strong enough to do so.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:33

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To write this in this fashion is controversial to say the least, but what drives me to this conclusion is found in the many different texts that had been buried, forgotten, that in their own time was outlawed and destroyed. For in the traditional Bible we have but a sliver of the true history of the events we celebrate. Therefore, we see with clouded eyes, we believe in traditions that come from completely different origins, and we collectively call it Christianity. In part I think that is what drives the truth seekers within the various faiths and sciences to conduct such magnificent research to find the truth in our Biblical history. This journey of seeking, documenting, and exploring is one that even the Catholic Church is involved in today. It is not wrong to try and peace together the truth of Christ, but it is wrong to celebrate and declare that we know things that in reality we truly do not know. In faith we believe that Jesus is the messiah, the King of Heaven and of Earth, but until we find factual evidence will truly know. In this we all are like Thomas who needed to put his finger in the side of Christ, touch his hands and see the wounds. Thomas is every man living today and it is this need to see before we believe that makes our faith stronger and more relevant. I say to you all never ask ‘Who is this?” but rather, ‘I know him who came and saved me.’ For truly God did send His son, and His blood needs no proof, His love needs not the “Thomas Factor” nor does His authority over all of His children need to be proven. It is good to know the facts, but it is better to celebrate the man, savior, son of God who came. Seek first the Kingdom of God that is rooted deep into your hearts, and reserve your questions until you meet Him face to face.

Amen

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Reflection 3: Family of God – Kingdom of God

3 “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ 3 Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” ~ John 3:1-3

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Metaphorically speaking;  every time I look down into one of my students eyes I see the Kingdom of God.  I see in their happiness the love of God, the promise and mercy of God. I can hear their hearts rejoicing and I can feel this joy they share every time they say hello, or reach out to slap may hand in the traditional “high five” as they walk by.  In some of them there is the Kingdom of God, as there was once this kingdom within all of us before we grew up.  So, this message is more for us adults than for our children, but all are welcome for let this stand as a message you keep long into your life even when you are old for it will serve you well to remember it.  Jesus Christ brought with Him a peace of the Kingdom when he came, he reveled it to some and purposefully hide it from others. He stood in the face of evil and commanded the demons and Satan himself all with the power and majesty  of the Kingdom of God backing him up.  Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God as if it was a real place you could touch and see with mortal eyes, and some who heard this message became confused as some of us today are confused.  I often wondered what this Kingdom would be like as a child, I imagined great golden gates, with angels standing as guards and God sitting upon a mighty thrown proclaiming the laws of His Kingdom.  But the older I got the more I started to understand that this Kingdom is not one mortals can see, hear, smell, or touch but rather is that place known only to God that our immortal souls dwelled before we became mortals, and is the same place we will return after our death providing that we have prepared ourselves for it as Jesus had instructed us too.  Found in John,  Jesus is speaking to one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a man who knew Jesus was the Son of God and a man who knew the hearts of men and of the denial Jesus would undergo.

 It is not by accident that this Pharisee came to Jesus asking this question; “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  and it was by design that Jesus responded in the manner that He did,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” For Jesus was telling Nicodemus that his faith in what he had admitted about the sovereignty of Jesus, that he has thus seen the Kingdom within Jesus himself.  I say this because there was at this time a burning question that few dared to acknowledge let alone answer.  That question was, “Who is Jesus? Where did he come from?” The majority of the Pharisees wanted to put the flesh and blood man on trial, but others saw more than flesh and blood in Jesus, and indeed how do you put a spirit on trial here on planet Earth, let alone the very spirit of God?  This created a controversy within the hearts and minds of everyone who wanted to use logic and their earthly senses to come to some sort of a conclusion before they could allow themselves to believe.  Yet it was foretold of the Jesus’s coming and still most did not believe even though he presented to them the path to believe, reassurance, and the over all picture of their final destination so that everyone would believe; sadly few did.  

3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)” ~ Ephesians 5: 3-9

It was this light of God Nicodemus was responding too and it was this light that he saw in Jesus.  Therefore, his words reflected his belief and his willingness to follow Jesus.  It sounds simple, but when putting this into practice it is one of the hardest things any human-being will ever do because it goes against the very laws of our earthly nature, our very sense of being, and no one wants to deny themselves for something they can not see nor touch.  Thus, when Nicodemus confronted Jesus our Lord saw the qualities of a believer and it was those qualities the real Kingdom of God would be built upon.   So the real Kingdom of Heaven is in each one of us, but we are blind to it unless we have allowed ourselves to believe in God, to believe in Jesus, and to be willing to be born again. 

4 “Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” ~John 3:4-7

The doorway to the Kingdom of God is clearly through the spiritual cleansing, the making ready of you heart, mind, and soul.  It is found within the denying of the body, the wants of the impure heart, and sins of the flesh.  Our hearts must be focused on God, our minds must be focused on Heaven, and our spirit must be ready to accept Jesus Christ as our our Lord and savior. Again the Jews conducted ritual bathing, but what Jesus proposed was that of Baptism just as John the Baptist had conducted in the Jordan many years before.  Therefore, it was no accident or something which happened by happen-stance, but rather by design.   Nicodemus’s conversion was no different than anyone of our own conversions today as the Kingdom of God is a real place, it was built for you and me, and it had a creator who intelligently designed it’s exits and entrances just as a builder builds a house with a front door and a back door, complete with windows, a kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms.  God has left nothing to chance and he alone has provided for our every need all the time forever.  The only difference between our house and God’s Kingdom is that he wants us to live up to a higher ideal, to be pure, and we in our own houses fail to act as we should thinking no one else will be the wiser.  But the old adage is true; what we do in private is what our actions and words reflect in public.  In all reality Nicodemus wanted his house to be supported by Jesus, and so should everyone of us aspire to the same ideal, but first we bust ask and answer those hard questions the Jewish leadership ran away from,  “Who is Jesus? Where did he come from?”

13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” ~ Colossians 1:13-14

In reflection I think every person must ask the question,  “Who is Jesus?”, so that we will begin to search, so we will begin to read the Bible.  No one reads the Bible for entertainment, though it is very entertaining.  The people which lived in those times which are found in the Bible are just as dysfunctional as we are today, nothing has changed in that regard.  They needed salvation then as much as we do today.  Their sins are no worse than our sins today, for all sin was invented by Satan and no human could ever re-invent what the Lord of Darkness has made perfectly evil.  Therefore, it is up to each person to look for, to knock on the door, to step through the doorway, to open up one’s own heart and to try and imagine a world filled with love, because it’s real, it does exist, and it’s worth the effort.  I have always thought that if Satan could expend such energy in finding ways to condemn us, and Jesus over through that with His love then wouldn’t it be logical we reciprocate by some effort of our own.

I also think it proper that after we have begun searching that we question what we read and seek more answers never forgetting what we have found, but rather accumulating a wealth of knowledge so that we can use all the evidence found to formulate the basis of our answer and belief in God.  For I do not believe God would be insulted if we, his creations, asked and search for the truth.  In my many years of reading, listening, and following the lessons in the scripture I have always felt God  in the background urging me to continue even though at times I had become frustrated, angry, and tired.  God has always been their in my life working miracles that are not written in scripture but where just for me.  So I believe He does the same thing for everyone who searches for evidence of God in their own life.   I also believe it is through this journey of Baptism do we find God, will we then be able to answer the first and the second question and do we really become convinced of where Jesus came from, who He is, and why He saved mankind from damnation.  To me there is no other definition of family I could ever possibly hope to find that fills the void as completely as to confess that I am a believer, and a member of the family of God.  I can think of no other assurance that will allow my soul to rest within peace as to admit that God will uphold His promises and take those who identify themselves as His beloved children, (family), with Him and share with them all that the Kingdom of God has to offer forever and ever.

Amen,

* For more research on this topic, “Kingdom of God”, please click: Got Questions ?.org   And from the Berean Bible Society on this topic click here.

If you liked this Special Reflection on The Kingdom of God please leave a comment. Also please “LIKE” and “SHARE” this post with others.

Brian Keith

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God Bless,

Brian Keith

P.S. NEVER GIVE UP!

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