Evening Reading for October 18

John 18:33-36
Suggested further reading: Romans 13:1-7

Our Lord's main object in saying, `My kingdom is not of this world,' was to inform Pilate's mind concerning the true nature of his kingdom and to correct any false impression he might have received from the Jews. He tells him that he did not come to set up a kingdom which would interfere with the Roman government. He did not aim at establishing a temporal power, to be supported by armies and maintained by taxes. The only dominion he exercised was over men's hearts and the only weapons that his subjects employed were spiritual weapons. A kingdom which required neither money nor servants for its support was one of which the Roman emperors need not be afraid. In the highest sense it was a kingdom `not of this world'.

But our Lord did not intend to teach that the kings of this world have nothing to do with religion and ought to ignore God altogether in the government of their subjects. No such idea, we may be sure, was in his mind. He knew perfectly well that it was written, `By me kings reign' (Prov. 8:15), and that kings are as much required to use their influence for God as the meanest of their subjects. He knew that the prosperity of kingdoms is wholly dependent on the blessing of God and that kings are as much bound to encourage righteousness and godliness as to punish unrighteousness and immorality. To suppose that he meant to teach Pilate that, in his judgement, an infidel might be as good a king as a Christian, and a man like Gallio as good a ruler as David or Solomon, is simply absurd.

Let us carefully hold fast the true meaning of our Lord's words in these latter days. Let us never be ashamed to maintain that no government can expect to prosper which refuses to recognize religion, which deals with its subjects as if they had no souls and cares not whether they serve God, or Baal, or no god at all. Such a government will find, sooner or later, that its line of policy is suicidal and damaging to its best interests. No doubt the kings of this world cannot make men Christians by laws and statutes. But they can encourage and support Christianity and they will do so if they are wise.

For meditation: `I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone … that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness' (1 Tim. 2:1-2).


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