The Cross and the Kingdom 

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.
John 14:1

Kingdom of God

Jesus had been with the disciples for three wonderful years, but He was leaving. He was to return to heaven after He had paid the full price for the sin of the world. The disciples knew He was their Messiah. They knew of His coming kingdom, but they were anxious and worried.. for something was afoot and they didn’t understand. Imagine being told that one of their little company of 12 would betray their Lord. Imagine hearing as Peter did, that in a few short hours he would deny God’s Son.

Messianic Credentials

Their expectation was that He would shortly set up the kingdom, which had been promised of old. They had witnessed many signs, wonders, and miracles that had authenticated His Messianic credentials, and they even saw their friend Lazarus raised from the dead. Without a doubt this was the Messiah, promised of God, to save His people – Israel.

Crucifixion Revealed

But now they discovered that Jesus is about to leave them and had talked of His death. He had told them He would be betrayed and crucified and that He would rise again, This was not the expectation that this little band of followers had of their Master.

Disciple’s Expectation

They had left all to follow Him and were expecting to receive their promised reward immediately. Jesus said that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. They rather liked this idea, and the few years of discomfort more than compensated! But how could their Messiah leave them when He should be setting up the kingdom?

Gospel of the Kingdom

For three years the coming kingdom had been the wonderful gospel Jesus had taught. John the Baptist had a witness to the truth that He was the Messiah – the Son of God. They had heard God’s audible voice three times saying: This is My beloved Son. The gospel of the kingdom was here – how could Jesus say He was going away?  And they continued to believe this to be the case for much of the book of Acts.

The Earthly Kingdom

As a nation, they were in bondage to Rome and they delighted in the idea that their Messiah had, at last, arrived to remove the oppression under which they had to live. They were waiting for the time when the earth would be filled with the glory of God. They were longing for the day when every man would sit under his own fig-tree as promised in the Scriptures.

Church-Age of Grace

Their eyes were on the coming earthly kingdom that had been promised to Israel. They had not grasped the depth of the riches of the glory of God towards them all. They had little or no understanding of the coming church-age of grace to the Gentiles.

Chosen Apostle

The major teachings of the Church dispensation were to be unfolded by Paul – later. Saul of Tarsus would become the apostle Paul, who was to be God’s chosen apostle to reveal the mysteries of the church-age that were hidden from view in times past.

God’s Revealer

Paul was to unveil the position, privileges, and the purpose of Christ’s body, the Church. Paul was to be God’s revealer of the great doctrinal truths of predestination, election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and our heavenly position in Christ Jesus – but the wider plan of God for the Church age was waiting to be opened up by Paul.

Bewildered Disciples

No surprise that the disciples were anxious and worried – bewildered and afraid, and so the Lord said, "Don’t be afraid – you 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 since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I will return and welcome you into My presence, so that you may be where I am".

Peter’s Boast

Yet Peter wanted to know where the Jesus was going, and when Jesus simply told him that he could not follow Him, Peter demanded to know why… “Lord, why can I not follow You right now?” and then boasted, “I will lay down my life for You…” And the confused Thomas joined in, for we read that Thomas said.. “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Christ’s Omniscience

Jesus in His omniscience knew that He was to be despised, rejected, and crucified. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him; Peter deny Him – and the Jews crucify Him. He also knew that God had promised to raise Him from the dead.

Voluntary Sacrifice

WHY? Why did Jesus know that He would be raised from the dead? Well He trusted God’s word – He lived a sinless life – He had pleased the Father. He knew that in laying down His perfect life voluntarily, He would be raised again. He knew that His death and resurrection would bring many sons to glory. He knew the cross was before the crown – the church age was before the kingdom.

Limited Understanding

At this time all the disciples had a pre-cross understanding of the coming kingdom. At this time they did not understand church-age doctrine – as designed by God. They had to wait until after the cross to have the scriptures opened up to them – they had to wait for Paul to be taught the full counsel of God for the church age.

Trust in Christ

The disciples all loved their Lord, but there was much they did not understand.. and so the Lord Jesus had to comfort them saying, Let not your hearts be troubled – you believe in God – then believe in Me – believe in ME

Cross and Crown

There can be no Kingdom of God without the Cross of Christ. There can be no Crown of Glory without Crucifixion of Calvary. We like the disciples can become anxious when we don’t know the whole of God’s plan – but like them, we have to wait as the holy Spirit opens our eyes – more and more,

Fear Not

There are some things that may continue to remain difficult to understand – BUT.. Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubles. You believe in God; believe also in Me

Bible verses: John 14:1

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