John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Art thou the King of the Jews? That King of the Jews who has been so long expected?Messiah the Prince; art thou he? Dost thou call thyself so, and wouldest thou be thought so?
Christ answered this question with another; not for evasion, but that Pilate might consider what he did. He never took upon him any earthly power, never were any traitorous principles or practices laid to him.
Christ gave an account of the nature of his kingdom. Its nature is not worldly; it is a kingdom within men, set up in their hearts and consciences; its riches spiritual, its power spiritual, and its glory within. Its supports are not worldly; its weapons are spiritual; it needed not, nor used, force to maintain and advance it, nor opposed any kingdom but that of sin and Satan. Its object and design are not worldly.
When Christ said, I am the Truth, he said, in effect, I am a King. He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth; he rules by the commanding power of truth. The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth.
Pilate put a good question, he said, What is truth? When we search the Scriptures, and attend the ministry of the word, it must be with this inquiry, What is truth? and with this prayer, Lead me in thy truth; into all truth. But many put this question, who have not patience to preserve in their search after truth; or not humility enough to receive it.
My kingdom … – The charge on which Jesus was arraigned was that of laying claim to the office of a king. He here substantially admits that he did claim to be a king, but not in the sense in which the Jews understood it. They charged him with attempting to set up an earthly kingdom, and of exciting sedition against Caesar. In reply to this, Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world – that is, it is not of the same nature as earthly kingdoms. It was not originated for the same purpose, or conducted on the same plan.
He immediately adds a circumstance in which they differ. The kingdoms of the world are defended by arms; they maintain armies and engage in wars. If the kingdom of Jesus had been of this kind, he would have excited the multitudes that followed him to prepare for battle. He would have armed the hosts that attended him to Jerusalem. He would not have been alone and unarmed in the garden of Gethsemane. But though he was a king, yet his dominion was over the heart, subduing evil passions and corrupt desires, and bringing the soul to the love of peace and unity.
Not from hence – That is, not from this world.
My kingdom is not of this world; that is, I cannot deny but that I am the King of the Jews, but not in the sense they take it, not such a king as they look for in their Messiah; my kingdom is spiritual, over the hearts and minds of men, not earthly and worldly. And of this thou thyself mayest be convinced; for was there ever an earthly prince apprehended and bound for whom none of his subjects would take up arms? There is none of my disciples that takes up arms, or offereth to fight for me; which is a plain evidence, that I pretend to no kingly power in disturbance of the Roman government.
In reply to this challenge, Jesus answered—obviously assuming the fact that he was a king in a sense entirely different from that which had been maliciously suggested to Pilate—My kingdom—the kingdom that is mine—is not of this world.
Neither now nor at any future period will it derive its origin from this world.
So far as Christ is King, his royal power and state are not furnished by earthly force, or fleshly ordinances, or physical energies, or material wealth, or imperial armies. The dominion that he will wield will be one over hearts and lives; the authority of the Lord Jesus cannot be arrested or overpowered by physical force.