Daily Reading & Meditation

 Sunday (November 20): "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom"

Scripture: Luke 23:35-43

35 And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" 38 There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Old Testament Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-3

1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, "Behold, we are your bone and flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said to you, 'You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'" 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

Meditation:  Do you recognize that the Lord Jesus has been given all authority and power by his Father in heaven to reign over all creation - including the heavens and the earth? Jesus was crucified for his claim to be the Anointed King sent by the Father in heaven (John 18:37 and Luke 23:38) to establish his kingdom not only for his people Israel, but for all nations and peoples as well (Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 26:63-64).

God is King and Ruler over all
What is the significance and meaning of Jesus' kingship for us? Kingship today seems outdated and useless, especially in democratic societies where everyone is supposed to be treated equal and free. Many rulers in past ages claimed they had sovereign authority to rule by divine edict. But God did not give his people Israel a king at first. Why? Because God alone was their King and they needed no other. Nonetheless, God relented and chose David as King over Israel with the promise that God would raise up through David's royal line a Savior who would establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace that would endure for all ages (Psalm 89:29).

The Jews understood that the Messiah ("Anointed One") would come as God's anointed King to restore paradise and establish God's reign of peace for them. They wanted a Messianic King who would free them from strife and division and from foreign oppression. Many had high hopes that Jesus would be the Messiah and Ruler for Israel. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to possess.

Jesus' claim to kingship
Jesus came to deliver his people, and the whole world, from the worst kind of tyranny possible - from bondage to sin, guilt and condemnation, and from the wages of sin which is death (Romans 6:23) and separation from an all-merciful and just Father who gave us his son to set us free and to adopt us as his beloved sons and daughters. Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom - a kingdom ruled not by force or fear - but by the power of God's righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

When Satan tempted Jesus during his forty day fast in the wilderness, he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus knew that the world was in Satan's power. And this was precisely why Jesus came - to overthrow Satan's power and deception over the earth. Jesus knew that the way to victory was through submission to his Father's will and plan to lay down his life for us and reverse the curse of sin and death for us. The Father sent his only begotten Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it through the atoning sacrifice which Jesus would make for us through the shedding of his blood on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus came to restore Paradise for us - everlasting life with God
As Jesus was crucified on the cross alongside two criminals who were thieves, one mocked him for his claim to divine kingship. But the other thief recognized through the eyes of faith that Jesus was truly God's Anointed King and Savior. He petitioned Jesus to treat his poor soul with mercy and pardon, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). Jesus not only granted him forgiveness, but a place with him in his everlasting kingdom. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Jesus died not only as King of the Jews, but as King of all nations and Lord of the universe. His victory over the power of sin, Satan, and the world was accomplished through his atoning death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day. Jesus exchanged a throne of glory for a cross of shame to restore us from slavery to sin to glory with God as his adopted sons and daughters. That is why the Father exalted his Son and raised him in glory over the heavens and the earth. In the Book of Revelation Jesus is called King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He now sits in glory at the right hand of the Father in heaven - and from his throne he rules as Lord over all  Do you recognize Jesus Christ as your Sovereign King and Redeemer?

Which ruler and kingdom do you serve?
The Scriptures tell us that there are ultimately only two kingdoms in this world which are opposed to one another - the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Each kingdom is ruled by one lord or master  - the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true "Light of the World" - and the false messiah and deceiver who is called the "anti-Christ" and the "angel of light" who rules over men and women through the power of false promises, lies, and temptation to sin and disobedience.

If we follow the Lord Jesus and entrust our lives to him he will open our eyes to the light of his truth and guide us by his Holy Spirit along the path that leads to our true homeland with God. If we follow the course which is set by the ruler of this present world - a world which is opposed to Christ and blinded by Satan - then we will discover that sin, pride, and deception will lead us down a path of destruction, death, and separation, rather than life, freedom, and friendship with God and the people he has redeemed with the precious blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Which kingdom will you serve - today, tomorrow, and for all eternity? This present world will pass away, but God's kingdom will endure forever. If we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and King and submit to his rule for our lives, we become citizens of heaven and inherit an everlasting kingdom which is ruled by righteousness, peace, and love. Is the Lord Jesus the true King and Master of your life?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are my King and there is no other. Be the Lord and Master of my heart, mind, body, and soul. May I always seek to do your will and to serve your kingdom above all else."

Psalm 93:1-5

1 The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
2 your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.
4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD!
5 Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: My kingdom is not of the world, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

"Listen, everyone, Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised. Listen, all kings of the earth. I am no hindrance to your rule in this world, for 'my kingdom is not of this world.' Banish the groundless fear that filled Herod the Great on hearing that Christ was born. More cruel in his fear than in his anger, he put many children to death (Matthew 2:3,16), so that Christ would also die. But 'my kingdom is not of this world,' says Christ. What further reassurance do you seek? Come to the kingdom that is not of this world. Do not be enraged by fear, but come by faith. In a prophecy Christ also said, 'He,' that is, God the Father, 'has made me king on Zion his holy mountain' (Psalm 2:6). But that Zion and that mountain are not of this world.
    "What in fact is Christ's kingdom? It is simply those who believe in him, those to whom he said, 'You are not of this world, even as I am not of this world.' He willed, nevertheless, that they should be in the world, which is why he prayed to the Father, 'I ask you not to take them out of the world but to protect them from the evil one' (John 17:15-16). So here also he did not say, 'My kingdom is not' in this world but 'is not of this world.' And when he went on to prove this by declaring, 'If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews,' he concluded by saying not 'my kingdom is not here' but 'my kingdom is not from here.'
    "Indeed, his kingdom is here until the end of time, and until the harvest it will contain weeds. The harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, who are the angels, will come and gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin (Matthew 13:48-41). And this could not happen if his kingdom were not here. But even so, it is not from here, for it is in exile in the world. Christ says to his kingdom, 'You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world' (John 15:19). They were indeed of the world when they belonged to the prince of this world, before they became his kingdom. Though created by the true God, everyone born of the corrupt and accursed stock of Adam is of the world. [But] everyone who is reborn in Christ becomes the kingdom that is no longer of the world. For God has snatched us from the powers of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). This is that kingdom of which he said, 'My kingdom is not of this world; my kingly power does not come from here." (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 115.2)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: 
copyright (c) 2016 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.


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