PARTS 2-5 – THE SON OF THE KINGDOM
This is what I believe will be our final series on the kingdom of God this year, and this one is arguably the most important in terms of practicality. The reason I say this is because, in it, we are dealing with how we can become more kingdom-minded in our everyday lives.
So, what we are learning is how can we have this same attitude that the Jewish people possessed—a kingdom way of thinking.
You see, there was a strong kingdom mentality that was engrained in the Jewish people. They constantly were thinking things like “When is the kingdom coming?” and “How can we position ourselves to be greater in it?” Yes, many of the Jewish people had the kingdom on their radar.
But I believe we here in the United States today have been brought up with certain disadvantages:
For one, even though most of us have been born in the United States of America—a country that was established on Christian morals and the freedom of religion—our great nation does not operate like a monarchy (i.e., a kingdom). So, we don’t have it built into us to think in terms of a kingdom.
On top of that, the Jewish people not only operated under that type of government, but their religion was mixed into it as well. So, they not only knew how a kingdom operated, but they knew it was not man’s kingdom, but God’s kingdom. Therefore, their religion was woven into their government—thus, this mentality was threaded all throughout their culture.
And I made the point that this is why, when John the Baptist, and then Jesus after him, came on the scene preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, the people were not responding with— “What is all this kingdom stuff you’re talking about?” No, it didn’t need a lot of explanation because it was already engrained in them.
But my point is that most of our churches today are much more ignorant of these kingdom-minded things. This is why it is not something that the church has helped us with either.
You see, these things we’ve been learning about God’s kingdom are not things that are commonly taught in most churches. In fact, the kingdom of God is a foreign concept to most believers today. Therefore, we are at even more of a disadvantage to possessing this kingdom mentality because not only were we not raised this way in the flesh, but we have not been raised this way in the spirit either.
So, I say all of this to explain why this kingdom-mindedness is not our natural way of thinking like it was to a lot of the Jewish people. But this doesn’t mean that you and I are to just throw our hands in the air and claim ignorance and continue to think incorrectly.
And that’s why we are studying these things. So that we all can become more kingdom-minded in our everyday lives. So, that’s what we began doing in part one of this series.
So, let’s look again in Colossians chapter 3 where we have a powerful passage of Scripture that teaches us about this mentality / way of thinking that we are all to possess as the body of Christ:
Colossians 3:1-4 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
I made the point in part one of this series that after spending the first two chapters of his letter essentially describing what Christianity is not, the apostle Paul now “turns the page” and begins to show us what Christianity truly looks like. And I believe these truths perfectly summarize what a kingdom-minded person is to think like.
So, we saw in these verses that Christianity is all about a new identity and, therefore, a new mentality. We are now new creations in Christ—having received a new spiritual social security number, a new name, a totally new identity. All things have truly been made new in our lives as we were crucified with Him and raised up together with Him!
And we saw that this is what water baptism was meant to symbolize to us—that the moment we were immersed in that water, we were crucified with Christ being buried with Him, and then we were raised to together with Him to a new life. But it was not just symbolism. It is actually what happened, spiritually speaking. We identified with His crucifixion. We died with Him, and then were raised up together with Him to sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Church, this is a big part of being kingdom-minded—because we must understand that we have changed addresses when we entered into Christ. We are now citizens of the kingdom of God. And that was a big point we made last week—that we are now citizens of heaven and have been left here on the earth to be Christ’s ambassadors, His ministers of reconciliation.
You see, the Word of God teaches us that our citizenship does not begin in heaven when we die and move there. It happens the moment we are born into God’s family that we become His nationality. In fact, the phrase “born again” that Jesus used could be translated “born from above”. That is why our citizenship is in heaven because we were born from heaven.
So, all of this means that we must learn to work down here while we’re living up there. And that’s the reason we have been left here; to see His kingdom come and grow. Yes, our purpose in still being here, even though our citizenship is in heaven, is to change other people’s address too.
Church, we have been raised with Christ to a new position and address—raised up to a new way of thinking and mentality. This is being kingdom-minded, church.
TO LIVE IS CHRIST
So, this is who we are! We have identified with Christ not only in His death & burial, but also in His resurrection & ascension. Thus comes to pass the saying—as He is, so are we in this world. Amen!
Now it is time for you and I to also identify with Him in what preceded these events. In other words, while it is necessary to know who we are and discover our new identity and citizenship, now we ought to live like He did during His earthly ministry before He went to the Cross.
This is why the apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:3— “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
You see, when we identified with Christ’s crucifixion and were raised up together with Him, now our life is not our own anymore. Our life is now hidden, and the life that is now to be revealed in and through us is Christ’s life. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:21—now to live is Christ. In other words, since our life is hidden with Christ in God, our life on this earth should not be all about us and building our own proverbial “kingdom.” No, our life ought not to be the thing people see when they look at us. Now they ought to see Christ’s life revealed through us! This is kingdom-living and being kingdom-minded! Amen?
I believe far too many Christians do not truly understand the purpose of Christianity. To most, becoming a follower of Christ is no more than just us asking for Jesus to come into their heart, forgiving them of their sin, and then maybe they quit doing certain sins and they start doing some good things like going to church etc.
But Christianity is not like purchasing an insurance policy (in this case, fire insurance) to where we sign up for it, but then continue to live the way we did before. No, becoming a believer is meant to also become a disciple—to where we leave all and follow Him, to where we totally lay our life down and live for His kingdom’s glory.
You see, Christianity is not even just a changed life; it’s an exchanged life—our life for His. Now, it is no longer we who live, but Christ living in and through us. So, when you believed on the Lord and were saved, you were not just made a “better you”; no, you were made a “new you!” And that new you is now Christ in you. Amen!
Again, now, as the apostle Paul confessed in Philippian 1:21, for me, to live is Christ. And as we’ve made the point of numerous times, the title “Christ” literally describes “One anointed to be King.” In other words, what Paul was saying was that as far as he was concerned, life was all about the King. Amen to that!
But not only is it all about the King, it is all the King as well. In other words, it is Him actually living His life through us.
You see, Jesus does not just give life; He is the life (See John 1:4 & 14:6). This is why Paul goes on to say in Colossians 3:4 that when Christ “who is our life” appears. So, we ought to look at Jesus Christ this way—not just as the One who gives us eternal, abundant, and resurrection life—but as the One who actually is our eternal, abundant, and resurrection Life. Therefore, our thinking needs to change that we are not just given a better quality of life by receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior; our old life has been crucified and now we are letting Christ’s life be lived through us.
Now then, what does His life being lived through us look like? Well, I believe it looks like Jesus’ life while He was with us here on the earth! Yes, if Jesus is our life and to live is Christ, then that looks like His life for those 33 years He tabernacled with us.
THE FATHER’S BUSINESS
So, let’s look at some examples in the Gospels from the life of Jesus that show us what life for us ought to look like. And let’s begin by looking at His early years to the beginning of His ministry …
The first example I want us to look at is from Jesus’ childhood: You see, from a very early age, Jesus was already thinking kingdom thoughts.
After Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem and His parents did not know where He was, they found Him in the temple learning—for He was both listening to the teachers and asking them questions (See Luke 2:46). So, when Mary asked Him why He had done this, His response was— “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49)?
Well, this statement perplexed Joseph and Mary because we are told that they did not understand His statement (Verse 5). And just put yourself in their shoes here. I’m sure they were probably thinking just as carnally as Jesus’ followers were when He would refer to eating His flesh & drinking His blood and they thought He was literally talking about cannibalism. So, in all likelihood, they were probably thinking he was referring to Joseph’s carpentry business.
But allow me to draw a parallel: What was His earthly Father (Joseph’s) business? Being carpentry, it was building, creating, and fixing things. Well, wasn’t this what Jesus was doing here? He was in the shop building Himself up (i.e., edifying).
You see, He wasn’t in the temple ministering to others. These verses show us that He was there learning by both listening and asking questions. So, the Father’s business for Him at this point in His life was being built up for the ministry God had called Him to.
Church, we need to understand that preparation time is never wasted time. Jesus actually spent 30 years preparing for a 3-year ministry. So, sometimes being kingdom-minded is not all about doing something. Sometimes it’s slowing down enough to get ready for what you will be doing. It’s sitting. It’s learning. It’s letting the Spirit inside of you prepare you for the future. Amen?
IT IS WRITTEN
So, guess what happens next? The next thing we see is Jesus entering the scene all grown up and is then baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit. And when He was being baptized, the audible voice of Father God was heard saying, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Now if you were to ask most Christians what God the Father said in that audible voice when Jesus was both baptized in water and baptized in the Holy Spirit, they would say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And they would not be entirely incorrect—for one Gospel writer (Matthew) records this event as God saying that. However, both Luke & Mark record it differently—they say that the Father said to Jesus, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
Now if I were to say about one of you today, “So and so is my beloved church member, in whom I am well pleased,” who am I talking to? I am talking to “all y’all.” But if I were to say to one of you today, “You are my beloved church member, and in you I am well pleased,” who am I talking to then? I’m saying this to them, and therefore, for their benefit.
You see, I believe this what God was doing here with His Son: He was letting Jesus know that He was His beloved Son, and He was well pleased with Him. Which, interestingly enough, was before Jesus ever began His ministry—showing us that our identity is not to be found in what we do for God, but in who are in Him. Amen!
Church, you and I must directly hear from God who He says we are just like Jesus did here! Yes, just like it is important that we all come to the place of being able to answer the same question Peter did when Jesus asked— “Who do you say that I am?”, I believe that we must also answer the question— “Who do we say that we are?” And do you know why? It is because of what happens next in Jesus’ life:
Next, we see the Holy Spirit immediately leading Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And in two of the three temptations that are recorded, the devil prefaces the temptation with— “If you are the Son of God …” So, the root of those temptations was for Jesus to doubt who His Father said He was by proving it.
But what we see is Jesus using the Word of God to resist the devil’s temptations. And how did He do it? With an “It is Written” three different times!
My question then is—Would Jesus have been ready to wield the Sword of the Spirit like He was in the wilderness if He hadn’t hidden it in His heart for those first 30 years? Many might assume that he would have because, after all, He is the Word. But what we need to understand is that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. So, He didn’t already know everything, but rather had to grow and learn things just like we do. And He did all of this as an example to us how we ought to walk.
But my point is that a kingdom-minded person realizes that the Word of God is the only way in which a son of the kingdom ought to think.
In fact, in First Corinthians 4:6, after talking about how we ought not to judge anyone (including ourselves), the apostle Paul said, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written …”
And with this Word-mindedness comes the verbal confession of it. So, once we’ve crammed it in there, we let it come out of our mouth from the abundance of our heart. Therefore, a son of the kingdom thinks on the Word and speaks the Word. They are Word nerds because we know that it is the Word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:19). Amen.
I AM WHO HE SAYS I AM
And this being in the Word, getting it in us, and then declaring it is a big part in seeing it revolutionize our lives. We see this after Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness through when He goes to His hometown of Nazareth and enters the synagogue (See Luke 4:16-22).
As His custom was (that’s important), He went to the Synagogue to stand up and read. And He was handed the Book of Isaiah and He found the place in it where it was written concerning Himself.
Did you know that this is what you and I must do too? We need to make it our custom, on a daily basis, to search the Scriptures and find in it the places talking about our spiritual identity and who we are in Christ. Glory!
And, glory to God, Jesus didn’t just hide the Word in His heart, but we see that He stood up and boldly declared it before the rest of the assembly in the Synagogue. Likewise, a key to me renewing my mind to my true spiritual identity is my boldly declaring who the I Am says that I am. No, not necessarily before an audience, but before an audience of one. In other words, looking into the mirror and boldly declaring who the Lord says you are until you begin to believe it about yourself. Amen.
Then I love what Jesus did after declaring what He did. We are told that He closed the Book, gave it back to the attendant, and then sat down. And this is what we need to do as well: We must see it as a done deal, “sit down,” and rest in who and what God reveals to us that we are. Amen!
So, this is how you and I cultivate this kingdom mentality, church! We study to show ourselves approved. We rightly divide the Word until it divides that carnal way of thinking that the world has engrained in us. Then we begin wielding our Sword by confessing who we are. Like a machete, this cuts through the overgrowth of thorns, weeds, etc. and we have a clear path to walking in this kingdom-mindedness.
WHO ARE OUR FAMILY & FRIENDS?
So now, let’s move on to Jesus’ ministry—those 3 years that He spent displaying the truth and grace of God—and look at some examples of this kingdom mentality that Jesus possessed.
Let’s begin in Matthew chapter 12 where Jesus gives us some insight into how He even viewed His own flesh and blood (well, not actually “blood” as Jesus’ blood flowed from Emmanuel’s veins).
Matthew 12:46-50 gives us an interesting account where Jesus’ Mother, Mary, and His brothers send for Him. It says, “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.’ But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
What an interesting way to look at the relationships of one’s life. I would imagine that most people in the Body of Christ today do not see things this way—because in most minds, there is a difference between our own flesh & blood and the church. But according to Jesus, His true family was those who did the will of His Father.
Now Jesus was not advocating that we devalue and disesteem our own natural family members—because that would contradict other verses like honoring our parents, loving our wives, respecting our husbands, and caring for our children. No, Jesus was not promoting us caring for our family members less; He was simply encouraging a different perspective of esteeming our spiritual family more.
You see, in another instance, Jesus brought up a controversial topic that many have argued over when He talked to His followers about the cost of being His disciples.
He said in Luke 14:26— “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
Well, how many of you know that Jesus was not endorsing us actually “hating” our own family members? For that would completely contradict His commandment to love one another even as He loved us. No, I actually like another Gospel writer’s take on it when He quotes Jesus as saying, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (See Matthew 10:37)
So what Jesus was speaking to was that in order to be His disciple, one must love the King, His kingdom, and His purpose and cause “more than” He loves His own physical family. And, in comparison to how devoted we are to the kingdom of God and how much we love the King, one might classify our devotion and love for our family as “hating” them.
But my point is, it’s clear how Jesus viewed these things: To Him, only being wrapped up in our own family affairs and seeking our own flesh & blood’s welfare is not being kingdom minded. Now, again, He was not saying that these things are unimportant, but rather that these natural things have the tendency to be too important to people.
So, to be kingdom-minded is to love, pursue, esteem, etc. our spiritual family like we would our own natural family.
And how many of you have noticed that when you were born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and were truly converted, that you found yourself feeling even more connected with your spiritual family than you did your natural family? Now it might not have been this way for everyone because maybe you were then evenly yoked with your own flesh & blood. But what I am speaking to is those of us whose own family might not have been believers, or they simply had not had their light turned to the truth yet. In those cases, we might have felt that bond with our brothers and sisters in Christ more than our own physical family members.
Well, that is not a bad thing—for our spiritual family is truly our new family. And this is having a kingdom mentality—knowing that those who do the will of God along with us are truly our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children.
Which leads me to another obvious mentality that Jesus had—He lived His life as a mission field to where not only did He love those who had dedicated their lives to the will of God like Him, but He loved the sinners. In fact, He said in one place that this was His purpose—to seek and save that which was lost. In other words, His goal in life was to pursue those who had gone wayward and had the need of salvation.
Jesus lived this way to such an extent that He was accused by the religious people of being a friend of sinners (See Matthew 11:16-19). This was due to the fact that Jesus spent time eating with the heathen, tax collectors, and such. The religious folks deemed this as unacceptable and Him sharing together with their deeds. But of course, we know Jesus did not dine with the sinners in order to partake of their sinful practices but rather to save them from those things.
And again, this is what a kingdom minded person will do—they will live their lives doing whatever it takes to seek & save the lost. This will be their goal. It will be their aim. Because they know that the only thing that matters in this life is being that minister of reconciliation that we’ve all have been commissioned to be. Amen.
Church, this is what disciples will do—they live their lives totally devoted to the kingdom’s cause and no one and nothing else is more important than that call.
FOLLOWING THE KING
Now regarding this, we have a very interesting dialogue between the Master and a few men who were either invited to follow Him or expressed their desire to do so. This account is recorded in Luke 9:57-62. Let’s read it: “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
So, this passage begins with “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road …” Now we know that this traveling was not being done for personal pleasure but because they were constantly on a kingdom assignment. Yes, all their journeying back and forth on the road was because they were doing the will of the Father and seeking first His kingdom.
So, this first guy who came to Jesus, I can imagine either saw them walking down the road or was already walking with them and took it upon himself to come to Jesus and tell Him— “Lord, I will follow You wherever you go.” And Jesus, knowing people’s hearts, saw a hole in this young man’s statement. It was as if Jesus saw that this person was willing to follow Him, yes, but that he thought he was f0llowing Him to a destination. This prompted Jesus to say what He did— “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Now some have taken this statement to say that Jesus did not have a home or other possessions and, therefore, we ought not seek after prosperity since Jesus was obviously poor. Church, this did not mean that Jesus was broke and lived an impoverished lifestyle. Have you ever seen people raffling off a poor person’s clothes? Well, that’s what they did with Jesus’ clothes. Not to mention, Jesus was said to have a treasurer (i.e., Judas). How many broke people do you know who need someone to carry around money they don’t have? No, church, this did not mean that Jesus had a taken a vow of poverty, but rather that His goal and mission was not to live a normal life here on the earth but to live His short time here doing the work of the kingdom. And this does not mean that you and I are required to do the same.
But what Jesus was correcting here was the false notion that this man had that His current journeying was not leading to a comfortable, prosperous destination. Rather, it was a life that was not comfortable and was extremely dedicated to the cause of the kingdom of God. Amen?
So, the kingdom way of thinking is this—we are not here to simply live a normal, comfortable lifestyle. We are here on kingdom business and that’s the purpose of all of our lifestyle and conduct. Again, it doesn’t mean God minds you having nice things; He just doesn’t want those things having you and making you and I worldly.
Then we see Jesus saying to another immediately after the first person, “Follow Me.” But we are told that he responded— “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” So, Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
Wow! That seems like such a heartless statement, doesn’t it? But here me out—It only seems insensitive and inappropriate to those are not as kingdom-minded as they ought to be.
Let me ask you a question: If the Lord called you to go out of state to share the gospel with someone, but your mother or father passed away just before you were about to leave, what would you do? Well, most of us would say, “Just a minute, Lord. Let me take care of my parent’s arrangements and then I’ll go do what you told me to do.” But this is what Jesus was saying is the wrong mentality to have. Always the most important thing to do is what the Lord tells you to do. Not what your relatives think you should do. What your spouse thinks you should do. What your kids think you should do. No, following Him is what we all are called to do, and this is being kingdom minded.
You see, essentially what Jesus was telling this man is— “Hey, let those who are spiritually dead and are consumed with worldly things take care of these worldly things. You take care of mine—which is, proclaiming the kingdom of God.”
Friends, there is perhaps nothing greater that proves how kingdom minded someone is than how they view death: We all have seen how some are absolutely devastated when a fellow Christian passes away, and while it is certainly appropriate to grieve, we ought not sorrow like the world does. Why? Because we understand that there is more to life than just this life in the flesh, and they are now present with the Lord, being absent from the body.
I heard an account once of a grave that was uncovered in the catacombs underneath Rome which had inscribed on it— “Here lies the grave of my wife and six-year-old daughter who died today for the glory of God in the Circus Maximus.” Friends, this was a Christian execution where believers were thrown into the arena of the Coliseum to be mauled by wild animals and slaughtered by gladiators! And this is how this husband & father viewed such a horrific death. Do you know why? It was because he was kingdom minded. Yes, I’m sure he mourned and grieved, but as the apostle Paul encouraged us to do, I’m sure he did not sorrow as others who have no hope (See First Thessalonians 4:13). Rather, by his words etched into that gravesite, we can see that this man was abounding in hope. May it be said of all of us. Amen.
But, church, do you see how what might be considered a radical way of thinking is really the kingdom way of thinking? The natural concerns and cares of this life are not always beneficial. Now I know that we have natural responsibilities and things that are to be taken care of in this world, but my point is—When the Lord says to follow Him, everything else is to be laid down and take a backseat to what He says to do. Amen?
Finally, we see that another also said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus answered him and said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
So, what we have here is another guy who desired to follow the Lord but had something else he felt he needed to do first. In this case, it was simply going and saying goodbye to his family first.
Now, again, that doesn’t seem very unreasonable, does it? I mean, going back to say goodbye doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, right? One might think— “Well, I have to go to tell them I’m leaving or they might call the police, thinking I’m missing!” Well, I don’t think it was the fact that he was going to say goodbye; I believe it was what can happen when we say goodbye that might have been the real issue. The reason I believe this is because of what Jesus said in response to this guy’s request when He indicated that this man was looking back.
You see, sometimes when things like our family is involved, it can pull on our heart strings. We can be all excited about what the Lord has spoken to us, but when we turn to our family & friends, our heart can turn. This is why the writers of Hebrews say that the patriarchs of old who walked by faith did so by not calling to mind that country from which they had come out (Hebrews 11:15). This verse also said that if they would have done this, they would have had opportunity to return, which is the real issue. It’s how we must keep our eyes on Him, His purpose, and His kingdom so that we don’t allow even the opportunity for anything or anyone to keep us from pursuing His call. Amen?
So, Jesus gave these three individuals (and all of us) what might be considered very radical statements, but what we need to understand is that they only seem radical to those to those who haven’t completely renewed their minds to a kingdom way of thinking. Once we come to look at things like the Lord does and from this eternal, kingdom perspective, we will be like— “Oh yeah, of course it’s this way.”
Friends, the Lord is calling us to higher plane—to an elevated way of thinking. And this kingdom mentality might come against some of our traditional views, but it’s true, nonetheless. Let’s come up hither to thinking kingdom-minded thoughts like Jesus did. Amen?
THE MIND OF CHRIST
But the next example from the life of Jesus that I want us to look at is along these lines: I want us to look at His mentality about coming down lower rather than coming up hither.
Let’s begin in Philippians chapter 2 where the apostle Paul gave us a good overview of this kingdom mentality that Jesus possessed: In it, he told us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Essentially, what Paul was saying was that we need to have the same mentality and mindset that Jesus possessed, and then he goes on to describe what His attitude was.
Now Paul had just told us in verses 2-4 to walk in one accord with our brothers and sisters and to esteem others interests above our own. Now he gives us the perfect example of someone who fulfilled this to the utter most—Christ Jesus! Yes, Jesus strived to live in unity with God’s people—not at the cost of the truth but with the effort to reveal the truth to them. Jesus had no selfish ambition nor was He conceited. He truly esteemed others better than Himself. Jesus looked out for the interests of others above His own. He was the best example of humility that there ever was and ever will be!
So, Paul is telling us here to have the same attitude as Jesus. He wants us to think like He thought—to have His perspective on things. Saints, this mindset that Jesus had has to be “in” us. It has to be an attitude that has become a part of us—that is, placed in our heart. It is only when this kind of thinking becomes a part of us that it will truly change the way we live.
So, what was Jesus’ mindset, attitude and way of thinking? We need to find this out because this is how we are exhorted to think as well!
Beginning in verse 6, the apostle Paul goes on to tell us the mentality of Christ. He says, “who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God …”
Now the word “form” describes the “nature or essence” of something or someone. This means that before Jesus came to the earth He had the complete nature of God—for He was, in essence, God Himself as a member of the Trinity.
Now regarding the phrase “robbery to be equal with God,” the word “robbery” is a poor translation because it gives off the wrong impression of what Paul was trying to say. With this incorrect translation it would seem to mean Paul was saying that Jesus did not consider it “stealing” to say He was equal with God. But the whole context of what Paul was teaching was humility and laying down our own rights for others. Paul was teaching us that we are to lay down our privileges as children of God for the benefit of others.
The word “robbery” comes from the Greek word harpagmos, which describes “a prize held onto tightly, a treasure to be retained at all costs, or something valuable that is too good to let go.”
So, Jesus “did not consider it robbery…” This is the “mind of Christ” mentioned in the previous verse, friends!
Jesus did not consider or regard what He had in heaven, when He walked in the full nature of God, something that He could not let go of. Jesus considered us more precious and worth being apprehended than His own status and nature as God Almighty! That is awesome, saints!
In short, He loved and valued us more than He loved and valued His position in heaven! And this is how we are to regard other people: more valuable than our own position, fame, and glory. Sure, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Sure, we are the King’s kids. But if we usurp those positions above serving others then we are not having the mind of Christ!
You see, Christ’s attitude here was the exact opposite of that of Lucifer’s (see Isaiah 14:12-15). Lucifer had one of the most important positions in heaven. He was close to the throne of God, but he was not satisfied. He desired to be on the throne of God. He was not satisfied with being a creature. He desired to be the Creator.
One of the main differences between Jesus and Lucifer was that Lucifer said, “I will” and Jesus said, “Thy will.” Lucifer thought only of his own promotion to benefit himself and Jesus thought only of His demotion to benefit us. Christ’s humility in love is a direct contrast to Satan’s pride in his selfish ambition!
Then Paul goes on further to describe Christ Jesus’ mentality in verse 7: He said, “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
By using the word “but,” Paul was saying that not only did Jesus not “consider” His position in heaven something that He had to retain at all costs, but He also acted on it by making Himself of no reputation.
We are told in First John 3:18 that we are to make sure we do not love in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth. James chapter 2 teaches us that faith without works is dead. We need to always judge our love walk to see if it is active. Jesus considered us of more value than His own position and then actively lowered Himself for us. Likewise, we need to not only see others as more valuable than ourselves, but we also need to willingly lower ourselves through selfless acts of love.
The words “made...of no reputation” come from the Greek word keno which means “to empty something.” This Greek word carries the idea in context that Jesus willingly emptied Himself of His divine privileges and glory that He had as being in the form of God. Saints, He willingly laid down all of His Godhead privileges!
I do like how the word “reputation” is used here. A reputation is the general opinion of other people towards something or someone. Jesus had the greatest reputation while He was in heaven as God. All the hosts of heaven highly esteemed Him. But He chose to willingly forget about His reputation in heaven and come to the earth, where He became despised and rejected by His own creation. Jesus literally made Himself to have no reputation with man rather than having the best reputation in heaven. So many people worry about their reputation with men that they compromise what is right. In Christ Jesus we no longer have our own reputation. We died to ourselves on the day we received Him so we should no longer be concerned with what the world thinks of us.
Then Paul said that He “taking the form”…
The word used for “form” here is the same Greek word translated “form” in verse 6. It means “nature or essence.” So, after Jesus laid down His nature and privileges as God, He took up the nature and lack of privileges of a servant.
But what makes what Jesus did so powerful was that, when He left behind all the glory and honor of heaven, He came to the earth and took the least glorious and least honorable position attainable—a bondservant—for the word “bondservant” comes from the Greek word doulos and describes the lowest form of slave.
Jesus said Himself, “the son of man did not come to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). He went from being the Highest to being the lowest!
Then in verse 8, the Apostle Paul went on to say, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Notice that it says that Jesus “humbled Himself”: The word “humbled” means “to make low.” This is what Jesus did in all of this, but particularly by becoming a bondservant (vs.7). Yes, He made Himself low.
So, this is the way Jesus thought, and it is the way Paul said that we too ought to think as well.
So, let’s now go over to John chapter 13 and look at an event from the life of Jesus that perfectly describes this “mind of Christ” …
THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS
Of course, this is the account of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet that most of us are familiar with, but I want us to notice a couple of important points from this story…
John 13:1-17 reads: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end…
So, we see here that the topic of Jesus’ love for His own is the subject at hand in this chapter.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God (we will get back to this verse in a moment), rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
Now you have to hand it to Peter here… He sure was quick to repent! He loved the Lord so much that when Jesus said that he’d have no part with Him if he didn’t let Jesus wash his feet, he was like— “Well, don’t just wash my feet then! Wash my hands, head, etc.!” In other words, he didn’t just want a part of Christ, He wanted all he could get!
Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Now does this mean that we need to have a ceremonial foot washing service from time to time? Well, not necessarily. You see, foot washing was something that was done in those days because it was absolutely necessary. They wore sandals which exposed most of their feet and they didn’t travel on asphalt. Their feet were exposed everywhere they walked and were absolutely in need of these occasional foot washings.
Now I’m sure as nasty as some of our feet are, they cannot compare to these guys! Therefore, foot washing was not an ordinance that Jesus was seeking to establish; serving one another was the true lesson that He was illustrating to us.
THREE KINGDOM WAYS OF THINKING
But let’s go back to John 13:3, where there is a powerful verse located that unlocks the key to Jesus’ ability to lower Himself and serve like He did here. In short, this was His mentality and how He thought about things—which is the kingdom way of thinking.
This verse says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God …”
What makes this verse so powerful is that these were the revelations that Jesus had that enabled Him to perform this selfless act of servitude. But before we get into these three things, I don’t want us to presume that these were just true for Jesus. We know the truth that as He is, so are we in this world. So, these things that Jesus possessed, we also possess because we are in Him and He’s in us. Not to mention, He lived the way He did as an example to us, not having any unfair advantage over us. So, I say all of that to say that the things we are about to look at that Jesus knew are realities for us as well.
The first thing Jesus knew was that the Father had given all things into His hands. This means that Jesus knew (lit. saw and recognized) that God the Father had already given Him everything He could ever ask for. He did not have to try and exalt Himself or get people to do things for Him, because He knew the Father was His source. He was secure in the fact that God had blessed Him with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) and with all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). Therefore, since He knew that everything He would ever need was already in His hands, He knew He did not have to fear opening up those hands and giving of Himself to others. Amen!
Likewise, when we truly recognize that God is our source and that all of these things are our reality as well, this will create such a security in our hearts that no person or circumstance can take from us! In other words, once we embrace in our heart that He has and will continue to give us freely all things (Romans 8:32), we will be less likely to try and promote ourselves and shy away from pouring out into others.
Number two, John 13:3 also says that Jesus knew that He had come from God: This means Jesus knew He had originated from God—He had been born of His Heavenly Father. He knew He had all of His Father’s divine nature and was born of His Spirit. Therefore, He knew what manner of love had been bestowed on Him to be begotten of God.
Likewise, when we realize that we have been born again and all that we are now as Christians is a result of God’s grace, then we will be more apt to show His grace to others through serving them.
And last but not least, Jesus knew He was going to God: This means that He knew where His true home was and that He would be spending eternity there in just a short period of time.
Likewise, when we get a revelation of heaven and how short this life on the earth is we will tend to live our lives laying up treasures in heaven through selfless acts of love— knowing that this is not our permanent habitation, but our eternal home will be in the glory of God forever and ever. Amen!
Through growing in the revelation of these three things, we will be in a better position to have the mind to serve others as our Lord and Savior did in this instance. We will, as the apostle Paul declared in Second Corinthians 12:15, very gladly spend and be spent for the welfare of others, even when the more abundantly we love them, the less we are loved in return. Why? Because we understand that we are filthy rich in Christ, and we are loved extravagantly by Him. Therefore, we will very gladly spend and be spent, knowing we can never out-give nor out-serve The Lord! Amen!
Friends, having the mind to serve one another is something that will absolutely cause us to live more fulfilling and blessed lives! As Jesus said time and time again— The last will be first, and we will find our lives when we learn to lose it!
So, the kingdom mentality is one of serving both God and others. We are not here to be served, but to serve one another. So, to have the same mindset that Jesus had is to lay down our lives so that we can live it serving others.
Being kingdom-minded is to think like Jesus thought. And if He could serve His own creation to such a base level, then we can too. But it will take us adopting the same truths that He did and knowing that we too have come from God, are going to God, and have had the Father put all things into our hands. This is where self-esteem is found—it is in possessing Christ esteem.
Those who are a part of God’s kingdom have all “come from God”—that is, we have entered it by being born again. Now our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, being registered in the kingdom of heaven. This means everything.
So, because we know where we’ve come from, we know where we are going! The kingdom of heaven is our home, not this world we currently live in. That is where our citizenship resides. It is where we’ve come from and where we will soon go. So, it’s fitting that we begin living for that kingdom now.
And, lastly, like Jesus, the Father has given all things into our hands. That means that we are already rich, possessing all things that pertain to life and godliness as His kingdom’s residents. Therefore, nothing and no one can subtract from us. So, we don’t have to feel like we have to hold on to everything in our lives. There’s more where that came from.
Again, this is being kingdom-minded—knowing whose we are and what we have and then living from that reality. It will certainly change the way we conduct ourselves here on the earth. Amen.
MINDFUL OF THE THINGS OF GOD
Now, finally, there are some more examples we can pull from the circumstances that revolved around the end of Jesus’ life & ministry here on the earth that show us just how kingdom minded He truly was as well. So, let’s wind up this teaching by looking at a few more things from His life here on the earth that show us how we too can become more kingdom minded like He was …
Let’s begin with Jesus revealing to His disciples the things that he would soon experience—that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the religious leaders. As you could imagine, this was not what His disciples would have wanted to hear because they did not understand that this was part of God’s plan of salvation.
So, as he was so accustomed to doing, Peter decided to take matters into his own hands by literally taking Jesus to the side and rebuking Him for entertaining even the notion that He would suffer and die.
So, how did dear, sweet Jesus respond to Peter? It wasn’t the way many would envision Him responding, that’s for sure. Jesus turns and looks at His disciples and rebukes Peter by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33).
Now while most of us are familiar with Jesus’ words here, I think we should ask some questions about them:
First of all, notice how Jesus says to Peter that he was not being “mindful” of the things of God, but of the things of men. What did He mean by this?
Well, the word “mindful” describes everything from to think, have an opinion, or to direct one’s mind to a thing. So, that’s what Peter was doing—His way of thinking was only geared towards things that people think about. In other words, His desire for Jesus not to suffer and die was only being concerned with things that concern things of this earth. But, and we know, God had a bigger purpose. So, if we are being “mindful” of the things of God, we are aware of that purpose and the things that He is mindful of. We see things more from an eternal, spiritual perspective. And the fact is that sometimes things that might seem to be important through our temporal, fleshly lens, just aren’t as important as they might seem.
Look at it this way—Are there things that you and I as parents/grandparents see and understand that our young children do not? Of course, there are! They don’t yet have the knowledge, understanding, and experience that we do. So, there will obviously be things that we know are best.
For example, I think we’ve all witnessed how when young children have some money given to them how they want to immediately go spend it all. Even if they go in a store that doesn’t have what they want, they will still want to spend those dollars on something. It’s called having money burn a hole in their pocket. But we have learned that not immediately spending those dollars on fleshly impulses is wise.
Well, in this case, Jesus was saying that in the mind of God, it was time to spend. As the apostle Paul once said, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (Second Corinthians 12:15). In other words, Paul possessed this same kingdom way of thinking—that this life is all about giving to others, and that includes the giving of our own lives.
This is exactly what Jesus was thinking: these words uttered by the apostle Paul are Jesus’ sentiments exactly—He very gladly and for the joy set before Him was willing to spend and be spent for our souls on the Cross, even though the more abundantly He loved us, He will not be loved in return to the same degree. Glory to the Lamb!
But this is the kingdom way of thinking, church! It’s interested in life preservation alright, just not its own. The kingdom of God is more interested in laying down our lives and giving to others than it is being spent on ourselves.
Here is another question we ought to ask about Jesus’ statement: Why did Jesus seemingly call Peter “Satan” here? We know Peter was Peter and not the devil, right? But what Jesus understood right here was who it really was who was inspiring these words that came out of Peter’s mouth.
Now do you think any of us here today have ever been Peter? Do you think there’s a good chance that even the most godly, good-intentioned Christian in this place might have had the devil inspire us to do or say something that on the surface might have seemed right at the time, but was a temptation to the person we did or said it in front of? I’m sure we all have.
But the point is, if we are being kingdom-minded, we can detect when something that might have been said or done to us is rooted in a spiritual attack or temptation. In fact, the words “Get behind Me, Satan” was the same phrase Jesus used when He was being tempted of the devil in the wilderness (See Luke 4:8). Therefore, we can see that this was a popular phrase that Jesus used when resisting temptation.
And make no mistake about it—this was a temptation to Jesus because He had feelings like you and I do. He didn’t want to suffer. He didn’t want to be temporarily separated from His Father. We know this because of what He pleaded with His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane— “Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from Me.” But being kingdom-minded, Jesus attached to His petition— “Nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done.”
So, Jesus’ mentality was that no matter what He might have personally preferred, it was all about God’s will being accomplished. If you think about it, there is no other way to live. It’s all about what our Lord & King wills. We as His humble servants, only do what He says. There is no room in living for ourselves—only for the honor of the King.
So again, what was the temptation here? It was to be mindful of the things of men rather than the things of God. You see, the things of men would be what serves our best interest. What do we want to see and not want to see? And that is certainly a temptation because no one wants to suffer. No one wants to lose a loved one. No one.
For example, how many times has the Lord called someone to go overseas and preach the gospel in another country for a long period of time, but a family member, not wanting to let them go, goes to them, and says, “Please don’t go! I just cannot bear the thought of you being away for so long.” Well, where do you think that’s inspired from? It’s not coming from the things of God. God told them to go. This person is wanting them to stay. That, my friends, is being mindful of the things of men, not God.
But the main area where we see this being mindful of carnal, earthly things is not in someone else trying to convince others to do something; it is usually in our own flesh not wanting us to do something. And that is just natural. That’s just when we need to allow that kingdom way of thinking to call the shots and say, “Not my will, but thy will.” Amen?
LIKE A SHEEP BEFORE ITS SHEARERS
So, let’s move on now to what transpired later: After Jesus followed through with the will of the Father and was arrested in the Garden, we see Him brought before His accusers. Then, being brought before everyone from the Sanhedrin, King Herod, and Pontius Pilate where he was beaten, mocked, scourged, etc. But remarkably, even though He went through such terrible persecution, He never retaliated. As the apostle Peter puts it in First Peter 2:23— “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Isn’t that amazing!?! When Jesus was slandered, mocked, and had all kinds of terrible things said about Him and to Him, He never said anything back to them. When He suffered all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, He did not threaten them. Rather, He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
What does this mean? Well, the word “committed” doesn’t necessarily mean here what it means to us today. When we hear of a person being committed today, we think of them being put into a mental ward or an insane asylum. But this is kind of what Peter was saying Jesus did here: He gave Himself over into the hands of His Father and entrusted Himself to His power and keeping ability. In other words, He did the opposite of what most people do. Most take matters into their own hands and do everything in their own power to defend themselves.
Yes, it’s all about self-preservation to most. But not to Jesus! He put His preservation into His Father’s hands—the One who judges righteously. This is essentially saying that He committed Himself to Him who can defend us better than we can ourselves. Church, the only way one can do this is by knowing God. We must come to be intimately acquainted with Him so that we can entrust our lives to Him. But that is where Jesus lived, and it’s where we must live as well.
Isaiah prophesied this about Jesus as well in saying, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7).
Church, this one example from Jesus’ life shows just how kingdom minded He truly was because we see that He did not defend Himself even when Pilate was obviously looking for a way to set Him free. You see, when you know that you are innocent and what is being said about you is unjust, the tendency is to open your mouth wide and let the world know it. But not Jesus! He stood before Pilate and nary answered him a word.
But it wasn’t that Jesus said nothing to Pilate. There was one question that got His attention: When Pilate asked him if He was the King of the Jews, Jesus answered and said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36).
You see, this is the main mentality that Jesus possessed that enabled Him to not defend Himself: It was knowing that His kingdom was not of this world; it was out of this world. Saints, when you know what kingdom you are of, you don’t feel the need to defend yourself on this earth. Like Jesus said here, “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight”—showing us where wars and fights come from among us. As James said, it is from our “members”—talking about our fleshly members. In other words, all of the strife and fighting that occurs between men is because we are being mindful of the things of men, and not of His kingdom. Amen?
But from Jesus’ example here, we see what being kingdom-minded looks like. And we also see how we ought to respond to suffering and persecution. Amen.
FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO
Finally, we come to Jesus’ crucifixion. And even then, in the midst of complete pain and suffering on the Cross, we see Jesus’ kingdom way of thinking holding true, because when He hung on the Cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
Church, another wonderful kingdom mentality is in how we view the offenses of others. The truth is, anyone and everyone who sins against us does so because of this very reason— “they know not what they were doing.”
We might hear that statement and say, “Oh, they knew what they were doing when they hurt me.” But I am not talking about that; I’m talking about that they truly did not know the repercussions and reality of their sin. In other words, while they might have known what they were doing to us, they didn’t truly know the full effects of their sin against us.
You see, if we realized what sin truly does to us and to the one’s we are doing it to, we wouldn’t do it. People do the hurtful things they do because they are only consumed with “self” and only see what it does for them at the time. But if we knew the truth and were more kingdom-minded, even we could do what Jesus did here and ask God to forgive our offenders because the truth is, they really do not know what they are doing.
You see, having a kingdom mentality enables us to see why people say and do the things they do. They might not see it, but the kingdom-minded person does.
The best example I can think of is like how a wild animal that might have gotten caught in something behaves when a person is trying to help them. Well, what do these animals do? Because they don’t know the person’s intentions and think they are in danger, they show their teeth, growl, or even try to physically hurt the person who is really just trying to help them. But if we are that person trying to help, do we get all offended with the animal and let the things it is doing deter us from wanting to help it? No, of course not! Why? It’s because we know it doesn’t know any better. Might we say, “It knows not what it is doing.”
You see, that’s the way we need to see someone who is entangled in sin, even sin that is aimed against us. They simply don’t know and are just deceived. That’s how Jesus saw these Jewish religious leaders who had Him crucified. He knew they didn’t know what they were doing in having their Messiah crucified.
So, this is yet another way that Jesus was kingdom-minded. From His birth to His death on the Cross, Jesus thought on the things of God more than He did the things of men.
Yes, church, the Lord did say, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9), but the Lord was not saying that to His people because He didn’t want them to know His ways and thoughts. He had just said to let the wicked man forsake His ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts (See verse 7), so the ones whose God’s thoughts are higher than are those who choose sin and unrighteousness. But for us who choose His ways and thoughts above our own, there is access to them.
The Lord Jesus chose His Father’s thoughts and so should we. Let’s decide to do so today. Amen.