If you asked my daughters why they think they’re princesses, they will most likely start into an extended monologue describing all of the relationships in our family as they relate to…me…the king. This all started way back when the girls were first becoming aware of the concept of princesses, and the undeniable fact that they wanted to be one. It was encouraged by my referencing them as “my princesses.” I would often hold them (and I still do) and kiss them, and tell them that they’re my princesses. A while back, one of them (I think it was Claire) asked me, “Papa, why am I a princess?” Even I’m smart enough to know that you can’t just declare yourself a princess. You have to have royal blood. You have to be in the royal family. You have to be related to the king. So in that moment, as concisely as I could, and with as much confident humility as I could muster…I explained to my girls that I’m the king, mommy is the queen, and because they are our daughters, that makes them princesses. Their eyes lit up and from that day on they’ve continued to make a pretty air-tight argument that “I’m a princess because papa is the king.” And if anyone doesn’t seem to be stunned by that or show appreciation, they continue “and mommy is the queen and Silas is the prince!”
So cute, right? (Not cute when they demand to be treated like princesses) But the point is, we all understand the power and implications intrinsic to relationships. At a very core level we all get what it means to have certain rights and privileges within our families that aren’t open to outsiders. We also know what it means to have certain expectations as members of our families. The same holds true in our relationship with God.
If we’re children of the KING, then what does it mean to foster our identity in King Jesus? We’re going to attempt to do that by looking briefly at what we’re talking about when we reference the “Kingdom of Heaven” and then we’re going to look briefly at what it means for us to be related to the King of that kind of kingdom.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
So two things are made clear here. One, the Kingdom is not of this world and two, as King, His purpose is to “bear witness to the truth.” Pilate obviously asked the wrong question. He should have asked Jesus to clarify “what truth?” The clue lies in the phrase “bearing witness.”
Let’s go back in time just a bit to the conversations surrounding the last supper. If we look at John 14, we’ll get some clarity on what truth Jesus is bearing witness to.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”
I don’t want to skip over the description of heaven here, but for sake of time I’m going to. Not because heaven isn’t important or significant, but because I believe the scope of Jesus’ kingdom carries even more weight than just the destination of heaven. Remember, we’re trying to figure out what Jesus meant when he said, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
I think John 14 makes a strong case that PURPOSE—the truth Jesus is bearing witness to—is the reality that Jesus is the complete and exhaustive fulfillment of the Father’s desire and will to reveal Himself to mankind and make a way for man to be reconciled to God. And really, that’s just a fancy way of saying, THE GOSPEL! Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
So what is this Kingdom of Heaven all about? It’s about THE GOSPEL: the good news that Jesus is the way to the Father, exclusively; that Jesus is the truth, perfectly revealing the Father, His words and His works, and that Jesus is the life. John tells us in chapter 5:26 that the Son also has life in himself and the power to grant that eternal life to others. The Kingdom of heaven is about THE GOSPEL.
So now we’re going to talk about you. If you read this passage through verse 14, you can see the progression and the set-up for what this means for you. In verses 9-11 Jesus is basically telling his disciples that He is representing Christ. He’s speaking on the authority of the Father and he’s doing the works of the Father. He’s being about the Father’s business and that business is redemption.
Verse 12-14 says “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
He’s been about the Father’s business and now he’s telling you that he wants YOU to be about His business, too. It’s Kingdom business. Jesus sets examples and then asks us to imitate Him. If you believe in Jesus—if you’re related to the KING—then ask yourself, how am I bearing witness to the truth in my life? The way, the truth and the life. If you truly believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, are you willing to share his love and grace with others? Or are you embarrassed that it might come across as politically incorrect?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
We could nuance the fire out of what it means when Jesus tells us that we will do greater works than He did. My personal understanding of this is that Jesus chose to place himself in one basic geographic location at a particular point in history to accomplish His saving work. But now he’s unleashed his Kingdom on the nations in a way that is described by Jesus in Matthew 13 as similar to adding yeast to a large amount of flour: Exponential growth of His KINGDOM as we imitate Christ.
I think the real question we all need to ask ourselves is when was the last time we asked God to do something so big and powerful that the results could only be explained by an all-powerful God? When was the last time we ended a prayer “IN JESUS NAME” because we were absolutely confident that what we were asking for was directly in line with Jesus’ kingdom purposes?
We’re related to the King. Let’s act like it. Let’s pray like it. Let’s foster our identity in it.