Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan

A Summary of the talk given at st. Mary's church, Houston on Jan 8, 2012. Listen to the talk here.

John, the Baptist, invites people to receive a baptism from him in River Jordan. Jesus receives baptism from him.  After the baptism, Jesus sees a vision—God says to him, “You are my beloved son”. He also sees the Holy Spirit descending on him. Then Jesus goes to the desert, where he fasts for forty days.  He confronts Satan there. He overcomes Satan. Then he travels around his land proclaiming the news, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

These are the events recorded in the gospels. But if we ask why these events happened, we don’t see the answers there. There are underlying reasons. The readers in the first century knew these reasons so well that the writers had no need to write them. If we ask why John baptized people, and why he did it in river Jordan, what was the meaning of Jesus’ vision, why he went to the desert for forty days, why Satan tried to eliminate him, why Jesus spread the news of the kingdom, we have no answers in the gospels. If the writers knew that their books would be read all over the world even after two millennia, they would have written more elaborately adding the underlying reasons.

Here I am making an attempt to find out the underlying reasons. Life was miserable for the people in Jesus’ land. They were under the Roman rule, who taxed them heavily, and they also had to pay taxes to the temple. A lot of people were sick—physically and mentally. Demon possession was mental disease. They explained this miserable situation by relating it to their own past. They knew that they were slaves in Egypt a millennia ago. Now they assumed that they are in slavery again—slaves to a new Pharaoh, Satan.
They assumed that the world has two levels—heaven, the upper level, and earth, the lower level. God is the ultimate ruler of the whole world. Satan was originally Lucifer, and he was appointed by God to rule the earth on behalf of him, but eventually he rebelled against God. The original meaning of Satan is “the rebel” or “the adversary”. Thus the earth, which was originally a part of the kingdom of God was now the kingdom of Satan.
All the problems on earth are due to the fact that the earth is ruled by Satan. God will soon overthrow Satan and appoint someone else. The one who will be appointed was called the Messiah, which means the anointed.
This is the underlying story. Now using this story let us explain the events one by one.
John the Baptist asked people to escape from the slavery of Satan and enter the land of Canaan, the Kingdom of God, anew by crossing the River Jordan. When people walked to John in river Jordan, they were rejecting the rule of Satan and joining the Kingdom of God.
After Jesus took baptism, he was also anointed by the Holy Spirit as the messiah. He got the affirmation from God that he was the messiah, the one appointed to overthrow the rule of Satan.
He went straight to the desert. He was there for forty days like the old Israel, which was there for forty years. Satan tried to eliminate him in three different ways:
1.       Satan tried to shake his conviction and his will. He said to Jesus, “If you are the son of God, turn these stones to bread”.  Satan hoped that this will discourage Jesus, and make him withdraw.
2.       Satan tried to eliminate him physically. He asked Jesus to jump from the top of the temple.
3.       Satan tried to bring him under his power. He offered the rule of all the kingdoms in the world, if only he would submit to the will of Satan.  
Now Jesus came to the midst of his people and began to proclaim the good news, “The Kingdom of God is at hand”. Wherever he went, he asked people to get out of the slavery of Satan. He also saved people from the slavery by healing sickness and casting out demons. 


susan said...

Hi John
Where and how does Satan appear? I believe he rises from within us just as the guidance of the Holy Spirit does. I think this means that when we are prompted to do wrong-chose material welfare alone over spiritual welfare, seek miracles and glory at the cost of avoiding the cross (be egoistic always?)and embrace evil for quick results and for building empires etc we must refer to our inner voice/ memory of the scriptures and say No and choose the right path. The miracle is that once we do this, we are not tempted by the same issues again.
I think this is what is said in the hymn "Shathruvin Agniasthram Shakthiyodethirkunna Maathrayil Jayam Nalki Kaathu sookshicheedunna Neeyallo Njangalkulla Divya Smapatheshuve"

We must try to keep the Divya Sampath in our consciousness through reading bible, prayers, worship, hymns etc.

At least this is what I understand.
Because Jesus has as a man faced these temptations and has overcome them, we can, by calling on Him, overcome them.

The Kingdom of God is perhaps the 'Divyasampath' we all share.


John Kunnathu said...

Thank you very much for reading. Yes, I fully agree with you. The fight with Satan is internal. It would be interesting to find out how an internal, mental, process was understood by making it external and mythical. Moreover, Although it is an internal experience for an individual, it takes an external, massive, experience for a comunity,