I had a thought. It was not an original thought. I’m sure many people have had the same thought and have delved more deeply into the implications of it. It is also not a particularly productive thought. No amount of speculation has ever changed the past and it is not likely to change the world in the future in any way. But it was a thought that I had and it has stuck with me for nearly two weeks now and so I thought it best to give it wings and watch it fly. I’ll see where this thought takes me.
This thought started with John 19, where Jesus is taken before Pilate for sentencing before he was crucified. Pilate was trying to find a reason to free him because he was genuinely afraid of what would happen to him if he sentenced Jesus to death. John 18:36-37 (NIV):
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Pilate believes Jesus and says to the Jews in verse 14 of chapter 19, “Here is your king.” The Jews respond in verse 15 (NIV):
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
They rejected Jesus as their king and as a result he was crucified.
This reminded me of the way the Israelites reacted after the scouts returned from Canaan. The land was heavenly, fruitful and beautiful; but giants (Nephilim) lived there and the people were afraid. They were so gripped by fear that they wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for suggesting that they could defeat the people of Canaan because God was on their side. Numbers 14 details God’s response to their unbelief and his judgement on them: That they would wonder the desert for 40 years – one year for each day the scouts were in the land – and eventually die there. Their children would also suffer for their faithlessness by becoming shepherds for 40 years. But they would at least would enter the land promised to them.
What would have happened if the people had not lost faith, allowing their fear to overcome them? They had witnessed countless miracles and yet they still had no faith that God could, and would, deliver them as He promised. Had they believed and lived fearlessly, they would have entered the Promised Land and not lived out the last of their days in a harsh nomadic environment. They could have had heaven on earth.
By extension, what would have happened if the Jews had not rejected Jesus as king? Would the kingdom of heaven have been established on earth right then? Would we have been spared from wondering in a spiritual desert and already have been enjoying the eternal glory of heaven now. Of course, if that had happened, the prophesy would not have been fulfilled and the gentiles would not have been saved. Possibly none of us would even exist right now and it would go completely against God’s plan. But, for a moment, just ignore all the details and imagine what could have been had the Jews claimed Jesus as king.
I wonder what other moments we are each missing out on. What paradises have we walked away from because of our own fear? How many miracles in our lives have we forgotten when confronted with the seemingly impossible ahead of us? When our fear overwhelms our faith; we are lost. We are left to wonder in our own personal desert until we are willing to conquer our fears through faith. What are you afraid of? What would you do if you had faith enough to overcome that fear?