Pilate put the question to Jesus: “Art thou a king?” He answered affirmatively, but followed the answer with what had been evident from His course and teaching all the time, but what His friends up to this time, and even later, never understood: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). This had in it an explanation, but one not then understood, and not intended to be then understood, but intended to be understood afterward, and to show to the ages to come that He saw what was coming, and that everything was working out according to the eternal purpose of the one divine mind seen running through the Bible from side to side.
In all the vacillating of the disciples in the lifetime of our Lord, their wavering, errors, mistakes and blunders, misunderstandings and disappointments, it is clear that there was one mind there that never erred, wavered, or was disappointed. Anyone who will observe all He taught and did can see that He moved right on according to the eternal purpose, carrying out the designs of the Almighty Father, without wavering, changing or disappointment. He was never taken on surprise. He knew what was in men, what they would do, and in instances of a most astonishing nature he told them what they would do; yet they understood not, but went on blindly, and did the very things He told them they would do, not seeing, either, that they were fulfilling His words or the predictions of the prophets.
The explanation in the Lord’s words, “My kingdom is not of this world,” is of immense value to us now; showing that He intended no civil government, and no kingdom that would meddle in the civil affairs of any country; that He would be no earthly or temporal king; no civil ruler; that He would be no rival of Caesar in any sense. There is no better evidence that any religion is not from heaven than to see it striving to grasp civil power; tampering with civil officers, and trying to control State affairs; trying to grasp and control the schools and the like. Our Lord sweeps all this away with one grand sentence: “My kingdom is not of this world.” As if He had said, “I am no rival of Caesar; my kingdom is spiritual and heavenly; my government is not of this world. A man may be a loyal and an obedient servant of Caesar in every particular, and, at the same time, be a true subject of my kingdom.” This is an end to all union of Church and State and State matters, and shows that they must remain distinct. True, becoming a citizen of the kingdom of Messiah does not destroy a man’s relation to the State. He is a citizen of this world and the State after he is in Christ as much as he was before, and required to pay tax and obey the laws of the State by the law of God. But he is, at the same time, a citizen of another kingdom, a kingdom not of this world.
…It is of God, and in it is the only light for man that can penetrate beyond the grave; the only light that shines into “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;” the only light that can bring to our view “a kingdom that cannot be moved;” the holy city, the New Jerusalem; the new heavens and the new earth wherein righteousness dwells. How dark and dreary is this world without this light, and what a poor citizenship is that which is only of this world and bounded by time, compared with a citizenship in a kingdom that cannot be moved, not of this world, not bounded by time, nor by mortality, but extends beyond the river of death. May our hope ever be anchored there, and may our citizenship ever be in heaven, whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus the Christ, Who shall change our vile bodies, and fashion them like to His glorious body. Blessed be His name forever and ever. (The Gospel Preacher, Vol. 2, The Gospel Advocate Co., Nashville, 1954, pp. 58, 59, 77).