Jesus was born into a society that understood kingdoms. These folks grew up hearing the tales of slavery in Egypt. Each child was familiar with heroic conquests as the people overthrew kingdoms and took possession of the Promised Land. Everyone knew about the glory days of David’s kingdom. They knew the stories of how their own people had been conquered by the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon. They all were now living with the daily reality of Roman occupation.
The promise everyone knew and clung to was that when Messiah came he would restore the kingdom. No one knew exactly how or when this would happen. As a result, there were as many assumptions about the coming kingdom as people talking about it. We see this reflected in the Gospels. For example, when Herod heard that a new king had been born he assumed this person would grow up, one day kill him and take his throne. After all, that’s exactly what Herod would do. Therefore, Herod decided the best thing would be to kill every young boy in the region where he heard this new king had been born (Matthew 2:16-18). Jesus’ own disciples were convinced he would one day claim power, drive the Romans out of their land and establish his own earthly kingdom. In Acts 1:6, even after the resurrection, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
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