As Alexander the Great lay dying age 33, he was asked to whom he would leave his kingdom. “To the strongest”, he replied. Those words unleashed two centuries of brutal warfare across the world.
When another young man prepared to die on a Greek-imported instrument of execution called ‘the cross’ he answered such questions, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were…my servants would fight.”
While the Christian life is a fight on many levels, it is not a fight to bring the kingdom through human power, a challenge that would summon the strong. No, the crucified King who was never called ‘Great’ has made the humility of a child and the lowliness of service, the vulnerability of weakness and the shame of the foolish, the characteristics of his peaceful kingdom’s faithful advance. This kingdom will not be given to the strong who fight but to the humble who cry out for mercy.
Yes, there have been ‘Greats’ – Alexander, Simon, Catherine, Peter… but you will search in vain for any reference anywhere to ‘Jesus the Great’ and the reason this is so is obvious: he defined kingdom and greatness in terms that were utterly upside-down from the way a merely human ruler would employ such terms.
So the next time you meet a believer angrily fighting someone, remember, Jesus is NOT Great, but he IS LORD. He will do the fighting. “And of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9). Tell them to put their sword away and then pray for the healing of the people their reckless defense of Jesus has wounded.
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