Three kingdoms… plus one
When Jesus came to live among us, there were basically three different “kingdoms” at work in society.
One was the rule of the Romans – intent on conquering the world and bringing its inhabitants under the influence of Greek culture and values.
A second kingdom was within the Jewish culture itself. It was the “kingdom” established by the Jewish leaders – intent on enforcing the letter of Jewish Law.
The third “kingdom” was the individual “kingdoms” that existed within the hearts of every human being – intent on establishing and maintaining reign and control over their own lives.
Each of these “kingdoms,” by their very nature, were an enemy to the rule and reign of the One True King of the Kingdom that Jesus came to offer. The battleground was set.
The battle is eternally epic.
The Roman kingdom. It is most interesting, and revealing, that Jesus made no real attempt to confront or change the Roman “kingdom.” He never really directly confronted the secular world, nor its secular systems and values. Even when He had the opportunity to do so, Jesus did not seek to specifically confront the Roman kingdom (see John 18:33-37; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-4). Jesus made only the succinct claim, “My kingdom is not of this world… My kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
From Jesus’ attitude and actions, we learn an essential truth. The Kingdom of God was not established to attack the secular world directly (something modern Christianity seems prone to do). On the other hand, the Kingdom of God would become a focus of secular attack. History reveals, as the Roman rulers began to mercilessly persecute Christians, that the clash of kingdoms was unavoidable.
Every earthly kingdom (secular or religious), will eventually declare war upon the Kingdom of God. Scripture records that Jesus, and His kingdom, would be the indirect crux of this conflict.