Jesus answered, "My kingdom doesn't belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. No, my kingdom doesn't belong to this world." John 18:36 (CEV)
Last night I watched 2 programs on the History Channel that happened to give some interesting insight into how a 1st century Greek (Gentile) would understand the New Testament. The first program was on Hades, the god of the dead in Greek mythology. He was the god that all Greeks feared, and almost none worshiped. They believed that no one could escape Hades' eventual grip. So for them to read in Revelation that Death and Hades' are cast into the lake of fire, would mean much more than just a place; it would read like a great hope -- the end of Hades' grip on any persons life.
The second program was on Alexander the Great's attempt to conquer India. As I was sitting there trying to get my head around why anyone would travel thousands of kilometers and fight numerous tribes in order to lay claim to some distant territory, the words of Jesus in John 18:36 came to mind. He contrasts the world's idea of a kingdom, with God's. The worldly kingdoms use armies, force, and violence to expand the territory of the King. In The Message, Eugene Peterson, phrases the last half of John 18:36 this way, "But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king." Jesus is a different kind of Lord altogether. He gives, rather than takes. He lays down his life for those in his Kingdom. He is one who uses the left handed indirect power of Love, rather than using the sword. He doesn't ask his subjects to fight, but rather live as he lived. He neither coerces people to be subject to him by fear, nor begs for subjects. He only asks us to believe that he IS the resurrected, glorious Lord. He is better than good; better than we could imagine; and worth following.