As Easter week begins, I am reminded of the king who entered Jerusalem two millenia ago, riding peacefully and meekly on a donkey’s colt. The people of Jerusalem greeted him ecstatically, no doubt seeing the arrival of the Messiah who would vanquish the Romans and make Israel a superpower. He, however, greeted them with tears, seeing their rejection of his true mission, which “would bring you peace” (Luke 19:42), and the result of their foolhardy vision of overthowing Rome–destruction in A.D. 70.

“Are you the king of the Jews,” Pilot asked him.

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36, NIV).

I have just finished reading N. T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope, a wonderful book in which he talks about the surprise of Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for our hope. The resurrection of the Lord is the firstfruits of the coming harvest, the resurrection of all believers. It is that latter resurrection which all creation longs for.

21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

The creation itself will be made new, just like our bodies. It is a new heaven and a new earth that Jesus came to initiate. This is the kingdom of God which he brought by his death, burial, and resurrection. It goes much deeper than earthly dreams of power, glory, and fortune. God’s kingdom is the renewal of everything, from the inside and out, starting with Jesus’ resurrection. It begins in us with the new life of the Spirit, and it continues in our own holiness and our labors in the present world to announce that the kingdom has come. As N. T. Wright stresses, what we do in this world–acts of justice, mercy, and beauty–are not in vain. God will use them when his kingdom comes in full, when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14, NIV).

Yes, King Jesus. Come.

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