Kaka D. Iralu
If Jesus wanted to establish his kingdom in heaven, he need not have come to this world to die on a wooden cross under such human cruelty and agony. If he wanted to establish his kingdom in heaven, he could have died a more merciful death in heaven surrounded- not by cruel Roman soldiers and a reviling crowd- but surrounded by sympathetic Angels sharing his pain and agony? But he chose to put on the flesh and blood of the reviling crowd and died on a cursed Golgotha so that his Kingdom can be established on earth till his return in glory.
Yes, Jesus died on the cross to redeem us from sin and give us eternal life. But is that all that is to it? Does not his resurrection also signify a new life with new principles that has to be lived here on earth until his return?
His resurrection and his Commission to us to preach his salvation to the ends of the earth bind us with a spiritual mission to this world. But Jesus also clearly gave us a material, social, economic and political mission to establish his kingdom here on earth.
At the beginning of his earthly ministry, what did Jesus mean when he opened the scriptures in the Synagogue and after reading Isaiah 61:1&2 said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your eyes.” (Lk.4:16-21). The words in Isaiah of course read “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord had anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound.”
Jesus’ mission to earth was not just the preaching of the good news to the poor but also included the setting at liberty them that were held in various human, social and political captivity on earth. I say social and political liberty on earth because after all, there surely would be no social or political captives in heaven that needs to be set free from their heavenly captivity! Social and political captivity are things of this earth. And Jesus had clearly mentioned that the setting at liberty of such victims was a part of his mission on earth. And when Jesus said, “As the father had sent me, so send I you” (Joh. 20: 21), it is clearly implied that we are commissioned not with just the spiritual salvation from sin but also the material salvation from social and political oppression.
If we look into the gospel records, we will discover that part of Jesus preaching of the good news into the world of his time involved the healing of the sick, the blind, the deaf and even driving out of demons from demon possessed persons (Lk. 40, 41). It also included challenging the established religious order of his day to throw the first stone at the woman who was caught in adultery (Jn. 8:1-11). It also involved sitting down with sinners and tax collectors (Lk.4:30) and even telling a Reverend (Ruler) of his times that he must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God (Jn. 3). It also involved upturning the tables of the money changers in the temple and telling them that God’s temple was for prayer and not for a “den of thieves” (Lk.19:45-47). It also involved calling the religious leaders of his day as “ brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” because they practiced only the outward forms of religion while neglecting the weightier matters of the law which were JUSTIC ,MERCY and FAITH (Matt.23: 23). Justice, mercy and faith are clearly therefore, part of his ministry (and our ministry) here on earth.
Indeed the preaching and practice of the kingdom of God by Jesus turned the world of his times upside down. It ultimately led to his crucifixion on the cross because perhaps man wanted the will of God to be done only in heaven and not here on earth.
But the liberating power of the gospel through which he came to establish his kingdom here on earth has made man free from not only slavery to sin but also slavery of man from man. It is a kingdom that calls for God’s will to be done not just in heaven but also here on earth. This was clearly affirmed by Jesus when he taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10).
Man rejected him on Good Friday because in his life he had preached about the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Will we reject him again on Easter Sunday so that man’s will (and not God’s will) can only be done on earth in our times?