After several weeks away, Pastor Matt is back to unpack the Big Idea that Jesus’s Kingdom is not of this world but rather it’s the Kingdom of truth!

Citylight Manayunk | August 7, 2022 from Citylight Church on Vimeo.


Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, by D.A. Carson
The Tony Evans Study Bible by Tony Evans
Expository Thoughts on John by J.C. Ryle

Sermon Transcript

Over the last several weeks my family and I have been away enjoying time with one another, time with extended family, time with the Lord, and time enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. We had an absolute blast. It was probably my favorite trip since our honeymoon nearly fifteen years ago. I want to thank you and the other pastors for providing our family with the privilege to be away. We are truly grateful to you. Thank you! Despite how epic our time away was, I couldn’t help but feel a little anxious coming home, getting back to work, and tackling all the responsibilities that awaited me. Have you ever felt that way coming back from some time away? It tends to happen when we get a little too caught up in our own little world. When I get too caught up in my own little world, my own little world starts to seem like a really big deal, and I get anxious when there might be a little trouble in my little world, even coming back from vacation. Now contrast our anxiety with the Lord Jesus in our passage. We are in the section of the Gospel of John in which Jesus is heading to the cross. Unlike us, he’s not just anxious about worst case scenarios that are unlikely to happen. Jesus’ death on the cross is guaranteed to happen. And yet, as we observe Jesus in our passage, we notice that he’s not panicked, fretful, or even fighting back. Why? Listen to what the Lord Jesus says right in the heart of our passage. John 18:36 – Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Jesus isn’t freaked out or fighting because the thing he’s most consumed by is not in his own little world. Jesus isn’t freaked out or fighting because His deepest reality is not in this world at all, and yours doesn’t have to be either. And that brings us to the big idea of our passage: Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. Jesus isn’t freaked out or fighting – and we don’t have to either – because his kingdom is not of this world. Now, if Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, what is it? This morning we are going to explore one and only one answer to that question. That one answer is my one point and once we plumb the depths of that one point, we’ll explore four practical applications for our lives. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. What is it? 1. It’s the kingdom of truth.


How do we get to this one answer? Let’s start at the beginning. Our passage picks up with the religious bigshots. They have arrested and want to kill Jesus. So they take Jesus to the Roman governor’s headquarters, to a man named Pontius Pilate. Something curious happens as soon as the Jewish leaders arrive at the governor’s headquarters with Jesus. They won’t go inside. The reason they won’t go inside is because they don’t want to be defiled, or become ceremonially unclean, by going into a gentile’s home, and then miss out on the rest of the Passover celebration. Do you see the irony in this? The Jewish leaders take careful religious precautions in order to avoid being defiled so that they can celebrate the Passover, all the while they are manipulating the judicial system so that they can murder an innocent man who happens to be the true Passover Lamb. These men are practicing religion that is of this world. Religion that is of this world comes in many forms, but it always serves to help us feel righteous while we act unrighteously and keep our distance from Jesus. The religious big shots are observing religious scruples so that they can feel righteous, all the while acting unrighteously and keeping their distance from Jesus. Does that sound familiar? Do you see yourself in that? Going through religious motions to feel righteous, all the while your heart is actually far from God is practicing religion that is of this world. The religious bigshots are practicing religion that is of the world. It’s a lie and it’s fake. But life in Jesus’ kingdom is different because his kingdom is not of this world, rather, it’s the kingdom of truth.

Let’s pick things back up at the governor’s headquarters. The entire reason why the religious leaders are at Pilate’s headquarters is because the Romans took away the Jews’ authority to put someone to death. Therefore, the Jewish leaders are taking Jesus to the Romans so that they’ll kill him by crucifixion, which is just the way Jesus predicted he would die back in John 12. Now, religious bigshots aren’t stupid. They know that if they come to Pilate and say, “hey one of our own people is claiming to be the long-promised Messiah and the Son of God,” Pilate is going to simply say, “Sounds like an in house religious dispute, I’m not getting involved.” Therefore, when speaking to Pilate, the Jewish leaders emphasize something else the Bible teaches about the coming Messiah, something that actually might get Pilate’s attention and arouse his wrath. They tell Pilate that Jesus claims to be the king. While a religious leader might be of no concern to Pilate, a king is a military threat to the Roman Empire, a king might seek to overthrow Caesar by force, a king is a real problem. And Jesus is king. But as we’ll see from Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus the king, his kingdom is not what Pilate thinks, his kingdom is not of this world, it’s not a kingdom that advances by human power, it’s the kingdom of truth. Let’s get into the interrogation.

John 18:33-35 – So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (In other words, “are you a threat to Caesar and the rule and peace of the Roman Empire?”) 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (In other words, “Pilate, do you have some personal interest in me and my messianic claims or are you disinterestedly executing your political duties?” King Jesus is already asking him the questions – and all of us.) 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” (In other words, “personally interested in your claims, Jesus? Absolutely not. Your own people don’t follow your supposed rule and reign, why would I. Now, what have you done? Are you a military threat?). John 13:36-37 – 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (In other words, “I am not the kind of threat to Rome that you fear. My kingdom doesn’t have its origin in this sinful world and my kingdom doesn’t advance through the conquering force of violence and the acquisition of worldly power. I tell people to pay their taxes and to obey your godless authority. In a sense, you and Caesar and Rome don’t have to fear me. After all, I’m letting you put me on trial without a fight because I’m not consumed with the things of this world. My kingdom is not of this world.” All this kingdom talk gets Pilate’s attention.). 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” (Jesus has already told us what his kingdom isn’t – of this world – now he’s ready to tell us what his kingdom is.) Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” In other words, Jesus says, “yes, I am a king, in fact the reason I left the reason I am into this world, the reason I left the eternal majesty of my heavenly throne and came into this world is to be king, but I’m not a king like Caesar, my rule isn’t isn’t over physical space, and my kingdom doesn’t advance by worldly power, so let me make it plain. I am a king who came to save, not conquer. And the way that my saving kingship advances and rebels become citizens of my kingdom is that I testify to the truth and they believe it.” Now the truth that Jesus testifies to is not mere intellectual facts. No Jesus is King and he came to bear witness to the truth that we are all rebels by nature and choice, deserving of God’s just judgment. But that is not all. He came to bear witness to the truth that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but enjoy everlasting life in Jesus’ kingdom. And Jesus tells Pilate, “everyone who is of the truth listens to this truth, believes in me, and becomes an eternal citizen in my other worldly kingdom, the kingdom of truth. In Jesus’ words, Pilate must detect a personal invitation to believe the truth and receive Jesus’ saving kingship. Pilate responds in verse 38: “What is truth?” Pilate is too cynical and jaded to stick around for an answer. Pilate’s response is proof that we Gen Z’s and Millennials are nothing new in our cynicism about truth from God that universally applies to everyone. Now, in its simplest sense, truth is that which matches up with reality and the way that things are. And because we are created in the image of the God of truth, we cannot escape the existence and significance of truth. Even the person who says that there is no universal or absolute truth is making a universal and absolute truth claim when they say that. If you’re just checking Christianity out, the reason followers of Jesus care deeply (or should) about believing what is true, loving what is true, conforming our lives and feelings to what is true, and speaking what is true is because we were created by the God of truth and follow the Savior who was full of grace and truth. Ultimately, we love truth because we experience Jesus’ saving rule by believing the truth that our only hope in life and in death is that we are not our own but belong to Christ our Savior. Friends – Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It’s totally different. It’s the kingdom of truth and his saving kingdom advances as more and more people hear the true gospel and believe in Him.


Now that we know that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, but rather is the kingdom of truth, what should we do?

Reject religion of the world

Religion that is “of this world” serves not so much to make you righteous as to make you feel righteous while living unrighteously, and keeping your heart far from Jesus. Honest question: are you using religion this way? Are you looking to something other than Jesus to make you feel righteous, all the while knowingly living unrighteously and keeping your distance from Jesus? Before I became a Christian, this was me. I grew up in a home that was half Jewish, half Catholic, and totally godless. But as a young teenager, I became very interested in religion. I got to the point that I was attending Catholic Mass at least weekly, going to confession, going to youth group to feel righteous, while I was living unrighteously and rejecting the true Jesus. If you see this in yourself, reject it and turn from it. So what should we do instead?

Listen to his voice

This begins with believing the true gospel (non-Christian) and standing in it every day (Christian).
This proceeds by planting your life in his word, rather than the world’s confused “wisdom.”

Testify to the truth

Jesus came into the world to exercise his saving kingship by testifying to the truth, specifically, what we call the gospel (quick summary). He came to testify to this truth and then he gave the Holy Spirit to his church so that we too can testify to the gospel of truth in our generation and help others enter into his other worldly kingdom by faith. How?

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Behold your king

Despite his modest efforts to release Jesus, Pilate is anxious to keep his little world intact. Like a coward, he succumbs to the crowds and religious big shots and hands Jesus over to be crucified. The soldiers beat Jesus and then, like Pilate, they mercilessly mock his claim to be king. They twist a crown of thorns into his skull, inflicting pain and mocking his royalty. Then they array Jesus in the royal color of purple and mockingly kneel before him and hail him. Then Pilate said to the religious leaders, “behold the man.” It’s as if Pilate was saying, “look at him! Do you see how harmless and pathetic he is? He can’t even fight back. Why in the world should we crucify him? He’s no threat.” But the Jewish leaders demanded that their law be fulfilled and that Jesus be killed for blasphemy. Pilate goes one last time to interrogate Jesus, but Jesus is done answering Pilate’s “this worldly” questions. Now Pilate is really annoyed. John 19:10-11 – So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” While the religious leaders and Pilate are most certainly responsible for their sins, it is ultimately God’s will that is being done in the crucifixion of his Son. The beating, the crown of thorns, the purple robe, and the mocking are all according to God’s great plan of love to save a sinful world. At the end of it all, all Pilate can simply say to the Jews is in verse fourteen is “behold your king.” He means it mockingly, but friends, listen to him. Do you want to be free from your little world and all its anxieties? Behold your king. Behold the Kings of glory. Behold the Word that was in the beginning with God and was God. Behold the one who healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes. Behold the king of kings and Lord of lords beaten, mocked, scorned, and rejected. Behold your king. He did all this to save you from your sins and make you a holy people who bear witness to the truth. Behold his love. Behold his mercy. Behold humiliation. It’s all for you. Behold your king and seek first his kingdom in your generation.