His Kingdom Does Not Need Earthly Force Or Power

Text: Zechariah 9:9-12

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Kingdoms exist to provide security and maintain order for a particular nation. Without a kingdom or government, well… citizens are subject to lawlessness, which leads to widespread crime and violence. Yes, without a kingdom, anarchy breaks out, insecurity abounds, disorder deteriorates, and everything becomes unstable, leading to death, rape, theft, and utter chaos.   

Kingdoms also sometimes exist to prop up the ego and narcissistic appetites of an evil tyrant.  That is right; a tyrant can try to establish their personal kingdom through the abuse of power.  Once established, they will often repress opposition and criticisms.  They will violate human rights, exploit the economy, and use propaganda.  Many times they will even expand their kingdom through military force, economic control, cultural manipulation, and the fear of the sword. 

In the end, whether a kingdom is righteous or unrighteous and whether the leader is good or bad, kingdoms and leaders of the world all operate through earthly power. They all use military soldiers, police, guns, tanks, aircraft carriers, the death penalty, and nuclear weapons (to name a few) to establish, enforce, or expand their kingdoms. Again, kingdoms of the world primarily use power and force to establish, enforce, and expand their rule.  

Hundreds of years ago, kingdoms did not have the luxury of chemical weapons, tanks, nuclear weapons, and guns; however, they still applied force.  In our reading of Zechariah, we hear about chariots, war horses, and battle bows.  Like tanks, nuclear weapons, bombs, and missiles, these too were weapons of war. Chariots, war horses, and battle bows were used by worldly kingdoms to establish, enforce, and expand worldly kingdoms.  Again, these things were instruments of force and power.  

Now, with all of this mentioned, one would think that the Kingdom of God would implement the same tactics of force and power.  One would think that Christ would apply the same power to usher in His kingdom that day long ago, as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  However, instead of the chariots, battle horses, and battle bows, we see in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey with humility while branches were laid on the road.  And so, at an initial glance, one might be led to say, 

“What a worthless kingdom of incredible weakness!  This display of softness by Jesus will surely not establish any kind of kingdom.  This meek entrance will not enforce any kind of rule or expand any kind of dominion.  This puny kingdom will be a short-lived puff of sappy and sentimental drama, and that is it.”

There are others who may say, though,  

“Perhaps this kingdom of Jesus has some good grassroots but needs a touch of power to make it work.  Maybe if we get Jesus a battle horse instead of a donkey and a battle bow instead of palm branches, this kingdom might have some potential.” 

Tragically, this is often what happens to the Kingdom of God, even in our present day.  You see, there are a whole host of people in our world right now trying to establish their visions of religious kingdoms in the name of God.  Take your pick; whether it is ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, radical Zionists, zealous fascists, radical end-time nationalists, or even segments of the radical religious right, all of these groups have visions of a religious kingdom in this world that can only be established, maintained, and expanded by the use of power and force.  To the point; all of them are fighting for you and me to join their cause.  All we must do is give of our resources and perhaps give of our blood, and then, with a bit of force, a utopic kingdom can be realized in our midst.  

There is only one problem, though.  God Almighty says quite clearly that those who put their trust in chariots and battle horses go the way of false hope.  Indeed, trusting in the power and force of chariots, war horses, and battle bows makes a person na├»ve at best and stupid at worst.  Listen up; God tells us that we are delusional if we rely on battle horses for safety.  We will always be disappointed if we put our trust in the might of mankind to save us. (See Psalm 33:17)

Consider, for a moment, all the great emerging kingdoms throughout every generation: the Assyrians ruled for 200 years in the Middle East, and the Babylonians ruled thereafter for many years.  The Persian Empire, under Cyrus, soon became the largest empire of its time after that.  Then, the Greeks emerged under Alexander the Great.  And who can forget the Roman Empire that came after that?  Let us not forget the Mongol Empire, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, and so forth.  In other words, all of them were great, magnificent, and powerful kingdoms of force and power.  Through force, bloodshed, chariots, war horses, battle bows, swords, bombs, and nuclear weapons, they became the greatest kingdoms of the world.  However, there was just one problem: they all failed.  Indeed, some put trust in chariots, and some put their assurance in battle horses, but in the end, they were misguided because every ruler and kingdom is like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  

So, what does this mean with respect to Christ Jesus and the Kingdom of God?  

First, let us be perfectly clear that the kingdom of God does not need our help to be established, sustained, and advanced. Jesus intentionally came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday long ago on a donkey. There were no great white horses, no flashing swords, and no military parade displaying earthly power.  Instead, Jesus came into Jerusalem with complete meekness on a donkey.  Indeed, in Christ, there were no earthly displays of power or force.  

Now, it is important to pause and understand what the word ‘meek’ means. When we say that Jesus is meek, we are not saying that He is a coward or that He is insecure. No, when the Bible uses the word meek, it is not used in a bad sense. Instead, when the Bible uses the word meek, it means that a person is not easily moved to rage and anger by little insults. It means that a person is not easily ruffled or knocked off their guard by frantic fear and worry. It means that they are not easily irritated or provoked to loud, passionate reactions.  Simply stated, the word meek means that a person is spiritually composed and strong.  

So, in Christ, you have complete power and might. Yet, He does not display any earthly visible displays of this power and might. Why? Because His kingdom is not of this world. 

Baptized Saints, your Jesus does not need a military, police, guns, tanks, aircraft carriers, or nuclear weapons to establish, enforce, or expand His kingdom.  He is not interested in propping up His ego or becoming a narcissistic tyrant who will exploit the economy or expand a kingdom through economic and cultural manipulation.  He has no need of a chariot to conquer Rome; He does not need a sword of power to display His political might over Caesar.  Listen now; Jesus chooses a donkey over a chariot, nails over a sword, a cross over a throne, thorns over a crown, and death over an earthly perishing kingdom.  Baptized Saints, His kingdom is not of this world, for it is everlasting, not finite like all the other evaporating kingdoms of this world.    

And so, God’s kingdom does not need our help in being established.  His kingdom does not need our force for it to be sustained.  The Kingdom of God does not require our power for it to endure, for it has already been established through the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God—Jesus Christ. This kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that has conquered death, neutered the evil one, and atoned for sin.  At the end of the day, no earthly kingdom has ever been able to conquer sin, death, and the devil, which is why these kingdoms are not everlasting.  

And so, we do not put our ultimate trust into kings, politicians, and rulers who cannot save us from sin, death, and the devil, for they do not have what it takes.  When they die, their kingdoms die with them.  But in Christ, when He died and rose, His kingdom was established forever – for you.  

Behold your King, mounted on a donkey, going to His bloody throne on Mt. Calvary to establish His kingdom forever – for you.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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