From Pastor Mark
To read Part 1 of A Tale of Two Kingdoms click here.
Well, as you might suspect, these elders were considered crazy by most people. But, they didn’t care. They kept speaking of this legend as if it were actually going to happen. But, most people just kept on going about their business as if the evil kingdom was all there would ever be.
And then one day something strange happened. A tiny basket appeared at the edge of the river. It was carrying a baby boy. No one knew how he got there. Word spread about this baby and all of a sudden the crazy legend seemed to be on everyone’s mind. When word got back to the king, he was furious. He knew the legend as well as anyone, but he never believed a word of it. But, just to be sure, he demanded that the baby be handed over to him immediately so he could “raise” the child.
Everyone knew what that meant. So, a young couple took the baby and they went in hiding. The king was appalled at such defiance. He had everyone in the kingdom severely punished. This couple risked everything to raise the boy. They decided to name him Joshua. Year after year, they watched Joshua develop and grow. They knew right away that something was unique about him. In many ways he was like every other child. He laughed, he cried, he fell down. But, in other ways, he was radically different. He never grabbed a toy out of another child’s hands, he was always respectful and obedient. They wondered if he really was unique or were they just biased parents who thought their kid could do no wrong.
The truth is, Joshua was different. But, he was still just a kid. As the years went by, most people forgot about how Joshua came to Bowieville. Other than being “odd” in some ways, he eventually became a young man and learned to be a mechanic—just like his father. And for years, the family lived a quiet, unassuming life.
One day, Joshua was walking home from the shop when he saw an accident take place. A car had flipped over and was smoking. And there was a young woman stuck inside. A crowd gathered to try to flip the car around, but it was too heavy. It was then that Joshua ran over to the car, picked it up and flipped it back over. He reached inside and helped the woman out. Everyone looked in stunned silence. How did he do that?
That was just the beginning. Joshua began to do even more amazing things. He healed the sick without medicine and he began to tell of a kingdom where people live in freedom. One time, when attending a funeral, he even raised a person back to life. It was as if Joshua was making everything wrong come undone. Great crowds began to follow Joshua. He stopped working as a mechanic and began to share about this new kingdom and its great king. People asked him how he knew so much about this kingdom. He told that he had come from this kingdom. And he could show them this kingdom. People started to believe that this was the One. The chosen One in the legend. They couldn’t wait to see if he really would do battle against their wicked king.
The king got wind of Joshua’s rise to fame. He realized how dangerous Joshua was to his evil reign. He knew he must put an end to this craziness. So, he had Joshua arrested. He was charged with inciting unrest among the people. And to everyone’s horror, the judge sentenced Joshua to death. Not only that, his execution would be televised for the whole kingdom to see.
All around the kingdom, people watched in horror as Joshua was put to death. They thought he was the one who could rescue them from the evil and pain of their kingdom. They had truly believed he could show them this new kingdom of peace and love. But, here he was dying. If he was so powerful and unique, why didn’t he stop everything? Why didn’t he declare battle with the king by amassing an army?
What they didn’t know was that Joshua knew the legend better than they did. He knew that they only way to rescue the people from the grip of this evil king was to give his life for them. And that’s just what Joshua did. There was a funeral for Joshua and then everyone went back to the daily grind. Hearts were crushed, hope was lost.
I know the next part might sound crazy to some, but this is actually what happened. It was about three days after Joshua had died that his family went to visit his grave. But, when they got there, he wasn’t there! The grave had been dug up and the casket was empty. They turned around and there in front of them was Joshua. He had risen from the dead. They couldn’t believe it.
And for weeks, Joshua taught his closest followers even more things about this new kingdom. He reaffirmed that yes there was an entirely new kingdom that they would enjoy forever. And in that kingdom, they would experience everlasting and ever-increasing joy. The best part of that kingdom was that it would be ruled by Joshua, the true king. But, he told them that until that kingdom is established (he made it clear it will be established soon), they had a special mission. They were to work to change their evil kingdom so that it looked more like his glorious kingdom.
But the struggled to understand how they could possible change their kingdom when it was so evil? Joshua shared how he himself would give them the power. In fact, he was going to give them the most precious gift of all—his presence living in them. Everyone sat in stunned silence. How was that even possible? Joshua reminded them that with him, all things are possible.
And sure enough, his followers were empowered by the presence of Joshua to go out and share this wonderful message that people don’t have to live under the reign of their evil king, but instead they could follow a righteous king. They shared the good news that people can change through believing that Joshua is that righteous king. And through faith in his death and resurrection, they could escape the oppression of sin and suffering and live with hope in a future kingdom to come.
This sounds unbelievable, but his followers actually began to change the kingdom one person at a time through the message of Joshua. And even though there was still pain and struggle all around them, their lives were filled with joy and meaning and love. They knew that they were forever changed because…
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14