Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:3-37The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty. There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disembowelled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BCE there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again.
The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads; they burned cities; they filled populous lands with death and devastation; they reddened broaddeserts with carnage of warriors; they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff; they impaled 'heaps of men' on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones; they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities; they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters; they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs."
The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, "Love your neighbours as yourself."
In the ancient world where enemies were treated with great cruelty, and Criminals were murdered mercilessly, this was a shocking message. But from this emerged the uniqueness of the Kingdom Jesus. On this code is grounded the power of his kingdom which will last for ever. This has made the kingdom of Jesus different from all the kingdoms on the earth.
History has seen the rise and fall of many empires. But history has not seen any empire other than the empire of Jesus that grows century after century. When the angel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, he said, "His kingdom will have no end."(Lk 1:33) The angel thus conformed the prophecy of Daniel:
"His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
Which shall never pass away,
Nor will his empire ever be destroyed." (Dan 7:14)
We are privileged to be citizens of this everlasting kingdom. But the citizenship in this kingdom is not by birth, but it is by choice. The choice has to be made by every individual, that he is willing to accept and practice the precepts of this kingdom. Jesus not only taught us to love our neighbours, but also showed practical ways as how to express our love towards them.
He expressed his love by taking compassion on the sick; by showing his care for the children, by feeding the hungry, by consoling the grieved sisters and the wailing women and in many other ways. Today we too have the sick with us, we too have hungry folk around us, we too have underprivileged children with us, we too have wailing people in need of our consolation, but are we ready to extend our help to them? Only when we do it we can call ourselves the citizens of the kingdom of Jesus.
The greatest manifestation of the new precept was laying down his life for us. We have heard of kings offering ransom to save their kingdoms from foreign invasion. Great quantities of gold, silver and other precious metals were placed before kings to spare their kingdom from attack. But here we have a king who has placed himself in the hands of his enemies for saving mankind. And the thought of his love moved millions of Christians to live and die in order to establish Jesus’s Kingdom on earth. Today it is our turn to prove that we are the loyal subjects of his kingdom. Our love, the values that we cherish, the sacrifice that we make should be credible testimonies to prove our identity as the citizens of the kingdom of Jesus.
As loyal subjects of the Kingdom of Jesus let us bear in our hearts the code of the Kingdom of Jesus, "Love your neighbour as yourself"