Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world..." John 18:36
“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” is probably one the most iconic movie lines of all time. The account of the great Scottish warrior, William Wallace in the film Braveheart fills one with admiration for a mighty man of valor who is totally and utterly committed to his mission, even unto death. One simple utterance, “Mercy” could have spared him his life. Instead, in a defying public display of utmost commitment he courageously shouts, “Freedom!” as his final word. Most inspiring moment, absolutely no compromise.
I’m reminded of those who have gone before us and have laid their lives down for the sake of the Gospel, not compromising their heavenly vision but instead pressing on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 3:14). They did not fight earthly battles with combat ready swords, instead they fought the good fight of faith, and laid hold of eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12). They are those who will “…shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
When the Apostle Paul perceived that his time was near, he reassuringly declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul was “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). This leads us to the question:
What was the “joy that was set before Him [Jesus]”?
What could have been the driving force behind his endurance? According to the Scriptures, one could say that it was love, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Love is certainly one of the facets to this answer, for He loved you and I to the point of death! (See Ephesians 5:25). But what was the ultimate goal? What was His eternal reward? Let’s dive into the Scriptures a little bit deeper to understand what was at stake.
“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. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11).
“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16)
This was His everlasting reward—He was given the highest name and the highest position in all of God’s Kingdom, with absolute dominion, power and glory. He endured the cross and despised the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. This was His joy—He became the highly exalted One, the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
Who are these “kings”? And who are these “lords” whom He Lords over?
Those who fought great and mighty battles over earthly territories and kingdoms? Those who valiantly drew the sword against their enemy in fierce man to man combat? Certainly not! These “kings” and “lords” are the ones who, like the Apostle Paul, “have loved His appearing” and have received “the crown of righteousness”. These are the ones who fought “the good fight of faith”, and have obtained the “imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
To “love His appearing” is to eagerly and expectantly long for the day when Jesus Christ, our King and Lord, will manifest His majestic sovereignty and will finally set up and establish His millennial Kingdom here on earth. The Apostle Paul again urges us to remain “blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:13-15). What an amazing day that will be!
Jesus is our example, who endured the torturing cross for the joy that was set before Him and obtained the highest position and crown. In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus turns to Peter and to His disciples and says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Notice the Lord says, “If…”, (it’s incredible that after all He suffered and did for us, He still gives us the freedom to choose), “anyone desires to come after Me,” (remember pursuit always precedes promotion), “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” This is a challenge for you and I to take up our cross, to echo the words of the Apostle Paul as he declared, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It urges you and I to give up our own selfish ambitions and earthly pursuits, to passionately follow after Jesus and to pursue His Kingdom, to faithfully endure the cross for the indescribable joy that is set before us.
This then leads us to the inevitable question:
What is the joy that is set before us?
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Clearly, there is an incentive for those of us who passionately run after His purposes, according to the degree of our pursuit, according to our “works”, our obedient submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s again take a look at the words of the Apostle Paul:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:10-12).
This is the joy that is set before us, if we endure till the end:
We will rule and reign with Him in His millennial and everlasting Kingdom! Jesus will rule and reign with His Bride!
Incredible, what an honor, privilege and ultimate recompense for our obedience to His leading here on earth. The sufferings of this world cannot compare to the overwhelming joy that is to come!
We were bought at a great price; we were purchased with His own blood. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). We were once under the rulership of Satan, a tyrant, a despot, an incumbent ruler who will soon be crushed underneath our feet — Now, this is true “Freedom!” — Jesus is our Kingdom Braveheart!
William Wallace, the brave Scot, lived, fought, and ultimately died, for an earthly Kingdom, his beloved Scotland. He was indeed a man of valor, but what will be his eternal reward? I don’t mean any disrespect to our fellow Scotsmen, as my husband himself is of Buchan, a clan of the Eastern Highlands of Scotland. But, “what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). It is futile to live for the “kingdoms” of this world.
This iconic movie mesmerizes us with its inspiring ending scene. Robert the Bruce evokes Wallace’s memory, and urges his army to fight the English once again with him as they had done with the great Scottish warrior. In a moment of magnificent valor, the men start chanting Wallace’s name in the same fashion he had uncompromisingly cried out “Freedom!” at his death. Encouraged, they heroically run into battle once again.
One day every tongue of every tribe and nation will cry out and confess the name that is above every name—the name of Jesus! Declaring that He is King and Lord! Until then it is my husband and I’s utmost desire to live a life well pleasing to the Lord, as faithful bondservants here in His vineyard, as more than conquerors in His mighty army. We are looking forward to the day when we will rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom.
Below is a photo of the Buchan crest with its motto, Non Inferiora Secutus, translated roughly, “Not having followed mean pursuits” or “Not following the inferior”, with the imagery of a sunflower faithfully following the shining sun.
Although the crest hangs proudly on our wall, my husband and I do not regard our heritage, whether Scottish or Portuguese, as something dear to hold on to. Like Abraham, the father of our faith, we are “[waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10; AMP). I encourage you to read Fraser’s article, “Nothing but Jesus”, for a deeper teaching and an in-depth understanding on the subject. It will encourage you to seek to live for nothing but Jesus, His righteousness and His everlasting, soon-coming Kingdom.
Daily, we are reminded indeed to “not follow the inferior things”, for “we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We “Set [our] mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). We indeed follow the Son, the bright and morning star, Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. “For [we] died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then [we] also will appear with Him in glory” (vv.3-4).
We pray we will be counted worthy on that Day, as we long to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler [king/lord] over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23).
— Welcome to true Freedom! Welcome to the Kingdom!
*For additional encouragement in your pursuit of the Kingdom, please read Chapter 6, “The Pursuit of God’s Kingdom-Task” of Fraser’s book Living a Supernatural Life on The Road Less Traveled