Israel’s demand for a king (1 Samuel 8:5) was a sign of their rejection of God and their desire to be like other nations. “God knew that the Israelites would someday desire a king. He had previously given guidelines that were to be followed by the people and by the kings that would reign over them (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)…The people were no longer satisfied with the system of judges that had been established. They improperly attributed the failures during that time to the system itself, not to their sin. They rejected God because they wanted to be like the other nations, not a peculiar people, set apart as the chosen ones of God. They wanted a visible deliverer in whom they could place their trust (cf. Judges 8:22). They wanted to walk by sight, not by faith” (note on 1 Samuel 8:5-7). Initially, God gave the Israelites the kind of king they were looking for. “From a human perspective, Saul fully satisfied the desires of the people. He was a man of great stature from the most military-minded tribe in all Israel and was considered capable of leading the people in battle against their enemies. Saul was also a man whose own spiritual life mirrored that of the majority of the Israelites; it was not long until he disobeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 13:8, 14)” (note on 1 Samuel 10:20-24). After Saul offered an unlawful sacrifice to the LORD, Samuel told Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
Samuel anointed David king approximately twenty years before he began his thirty-three year reign over all Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 5:4-5). During Jesus’ ministry, “The Jews recognized that the Messiah would come from David’s descendants (cf. John 7:42). One of the titles applied to Jesus during his earthly ministry was ‘Son of David’ (Matthew 9:27; 12:23; 15:22), emphasizing his heirship of all David’s royal prerogatives as well as his fulfillment of the messianic promises to David (2 Samuel 7:8-16, cf. Matthew 22:41-45; Luke 1:32, 33, 69)” (note on 1 Samuel 16:13). The LORD’s covenant with David is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. Speaking through the prophet Nathan, God said:
“I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:12-16)
The statement God made about David’s son building a house for his name referred initially to Solomon but was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the ‘Son of David’ (Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:25-35). Jesus told his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms: if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
Jesus’ departure from the earth is recorded in the gospels of both Mark and Luke. Mark tells us, “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul elaborated on Mark’s statement and indicated that Jesus received God’s authority when he sat down at his right hand (Ephesians 1:20-23), but we know that his reign hasn’t yet started because he told his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). Jesus referred to the future kingdom that he would reign over as the kingdom of heaven and used numerous parables to describe it to his followers. Based on Jesus’ parables, the kingdom of heaven appears to be a place that is hidden from our view (Luke 17:21), but is a part of our current earthly existence (Matthew 6:33) and will be inhabited by both Old and New Testament believers at some point in the future (Matthew 8:11). Jesus indicated in his conversation with a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3) and then, explained, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8).
Jesus’ mother, Mary, was visited by the angel Gabriel and was informed about her son’s future kingdom. Gabriel said:
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:28-33)
The unique thing about the throne of David was that God promised him it would be “established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). David’s royal dynasty was intended to be built up or made sure by the eternal life that only Jesus could provide through his substitutionary death on the cross. The Hebrew word that is translated made sure in 2 Samuel 7:16 is ʾaman (aw-manˊ), which means “have belief” (H539). ʾAman is used in Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham “believed the LORD and he counted it to him as righteousness.” “This is one of the key verses of the entire Old Testament. It is an important witness to the doctrine of justification by faith and to the doctrine of the unity of believers in both Old and New Testaments. Abraham’s faith was credited to him for righteousness before he was circumcised and more than 400 years before the law was given to his descendants. Therefore neither circumcision nor the law had a part in Abraham’s righteousness. Abraham’s faith was not merely a general confidence in God nor simple obedience to God’s command; Paul stressed that it was indeed faith in the promise of redemption through Christ (Romans 3:21, 22; 4:18-25; Galatians 3:14-18)” (note on Genesis 15:6).
Jesus’ conversation with Pilate, the governor who gave the order for him to be crucified, ended with Jesus being asked the question, “What is truth?” John tells us:
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38)
Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. The world that Jesus was talking about was not the physical planet that we live on, but the kosmos (kosˊ-mos), “the present order of things, as opposed to the kingdom of Christ; and hence, always with the idea of transience, worthlessness, and evil both physical and moral, the seat of cares, temptations, irregular desires” (G2889). Jesus distinguished his kingdom from Pilate’s by pointing out to him that another world existed. The new world Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19:28 refers specifically to “Messianic restoration…In the sense of renovation, restoration, restitution to a former state; spoken of the complete eternal manifestation of the Messiah’s kingdom when all things are to be delivered from their present corruption and restored to spiritual purity and splendor” (G3824).
The reason why Jesus wanted Pilate to know that another world existed may have been so that he wouldn’t feel threatened by him being identified as the King of the Jews. When Pilate was told that Jesus had made himself “the Son of God” (John 19:7), “He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’” (John 19:9). It’s possible that at that point Pilate understood what Jesus was talking about when he said his kingdom was not of this world, but more than likely, Pilate assumed that Jesus was out of his mind. It says in John 19:10-11, “So Pilate said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.’” The phrase from above is “spoken of whatever is heavenly or from heaven, and since God dwells in heaven, it signifies from God, in a divine manner” (G509). Jesus clearly wanted Pilate to know who he was dealing with and didn’t hide the fact that God was allowing him to crucify his own Son. Perhaps, in an attempt to bring the people to their senses, Pilate said to the Jews, “’Behold your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ So he delivered him over to them to be crucified” (John 19:14-16).
Jesus’ final conversation was with a man who was hanging on a cross next to his. Luke tells us, “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left” (Luke 23:33). Luke went on to say, “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’” (John 23:39-43). The second criminal realized the Jesus’ reign over the kingdom of heaven was not going to be prevented by his death or more specifically, by his crucifixion. The expression kingdom of heaven “often embraces both the internal and external kingdom and refers both to its commencement in this world and its completion in the world to come…In this latter view it denotes especially the bliss of heaven which it to be enjoyed in the Redeemer’s kingdom, i.e. eternal life” (G932).