Herod I. Ruled in Judaea 37-4. BC. Authentic Herod? Bust location now? Judiasm Wikia says found in Jerusalem excavations - remarkably intact if so. Flattering? Definitely resembles Roman ruling class. (Unlike Jesus!)
Herod’s kingdom did not long outlast him intact. The kingdom of God is permanent and growing. That kingdom can not be viewed, handled, smelt, tasted nor heard; it can be neither created nor destroyed. The kingdom of God can not be measured but it is real. It can be seen(!), entered and found. Where Jesus is, the kingdom is. Jesus is the door to the kingdom.
Like us, the people of Jesus' day were used to the idea of exchanging one rule for another. They did have a cultural memory of “freedom”, of being independent and different to neighbouring peoples. In fact their land came under or was impacted by Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Ptolemies, Selucids, nationalists and Romans.  Kingdoms came and kingdoms went, rulers were installed and rulers were removed, “players” sought power and influence.

In the times of Jesus, Rome would not countenance anyone else reducing revenues, dislocating rulership or potential challenges to the established order. Then, as now, possession of power meant the opportunity to accumulate wealth and to exploit the less powerful. Few (would) see any need for restraint; if “integrity” had meaning it was not readily apparent that it was upheld. (Sounds like our current exploitation rackets - in waste, for example.)

The continuing common Jewish expectation for a better life would have been for God acting to deliver his people and institute a renovated Kingdom of Israel (or called Judah). Like all regime change ambitions, many and varied would be the hopes riding on this desire.

Some Judaean activists held to the long tradition that violent struggle would be needed to re-establish the kingdom of God. Yes, Rome had great might and could despatch legion after legion. However, the Lord was greater than Rome! How they reconciled their impotence with God's omnipotence I do not know. (Similarly, in our own era we see people using violence in what looks a lost cause, but one which they see as divinely ordained.)

The kingdom is not obvious but it can be perceived and actually accessed by a person with God working within them. One night, perhaps quite early on in the Jesus events, Nicodemus, a highly placed, meticulous, Jew, spoke (privately?) with Jesus. Perhaps they had been talking about God’s kingdom? The man received advice which, as reported, seems blunt and abrupt; advice he did not know he had asked for:
Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going
(John 3:3-8, CEV). To grasp the kingdom and to enter that kingdom depends on God’s inner working in the person. There has to be a beginning of kingdom life. However, there is no imperative mood here. God’s work has been described. The story moves on to the response from the hearer: No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die
(John 3:13-16, CEV). Thus everyone who will do so can receive the life of God’s kingdom; they can see what the kingdom is and can enter that kingdom. No external process or human power or authority is required or possible. The life of the kingdom, eternal life, is given to any and all who trust in Jesus for it, believe in him, put their faith in him. Nicodemus faded from this account [debate over which words are Jesus’ own is inconclusive I think]. It looks like Nicodemus did enter Jesus’ kingdom - he was there at the “end” with a becoming not-so-secret follower named Joseph, taking care of the burial of Jesus’ remains (John 19:39). 

The longed-for king would have to be one with a legitimate claim to David's throne, his ancient kingdom. Who better than Jesus the Christ? A sensitive issue involving power and dominion, dangerously able to be misinterpreted. From the beginning, the tension was in the record. Matthew relates kingdom aspects in the infancy of Jesus: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose. Now we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2, NIRV). King? of the Jews? When the Rome-backed Herod heard about this he was very unhappy indeed! It was not a good time to be around. (Herod with Rome’s support ruled the Jews from 37 BC until his (welcomed) death 4 BC.)

The first two chapters of Luke introduce the God’s kingdom notion into Jesus' earliest days, as for example when Joseph, Mary and infant Jesus were in the Jerusalem Temple: She (Anna) came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem (Luke 2:38, NLT). People in the Temple city (some) were expectant, hopeful that God at last would straighten things out. (Some people despaired of oppression and corruption and withdrew to wait - their poignant Bibles and writings found so recently in caves near the Dead Sea.)

Years passed. Then, in the countryside of (from 6 AD Roman governed) Mediterranean state of Judaea there came a memorable public speaker. Like a demagogue he created quite a stir. His name was John. All four of the Gospel writers include John the Baptist in their accounts. Our witnesses say that John’s message called for a response of inner change and that his emergence was seen in terms of ancient prophecy of big things happening in the nation (so Isaiah 40). The wait had been long, too long! Hopes rested on John and the results of his proclamation. Matthew has this particular line from John: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”[a](3:2, ESV). Many made public response - the ripples spread far and wide. The implications were not always welcome. Important people heard from John things they did not like at all.

Puzzling though John found it, Jesus made direct contact with him (again all four witnesses). Jesus overlapped John with that electrifying “kingdom” announcement. In time John was eliminated by the powers that be and Jesus took the call north. Mark puts it thus: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee. He preached the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Turn away from your sins and believe the good news!” 1:14-15 (NIRV). It had become from Jesus but still news, good news; still the urgent advice of God’s intervention.
excursus re God/heaven: Matthew and Mark vary in their records of the words Jesus used at that time in Galilee. The NRSV text has this
Mark 1: 15 the kingdom of God
Matthew 4: 17 the kingdom of heaven
Literally speaking, Mark has “of the God”, where Matthew has “of the heavens”. Nonetheless, it is surely clear the expressions are equivalent. Word orders and the vocabulary vary; they do have three identical key words: “kingdom”, “repent” and “has come near”. I think it fair to take the expressions as they come and make no distinction in meaning. Probably they are used interchangeably. If, as seems likely, Jesus addressed the crowds in Aramaic, would that point to a resolution of the “discrepancy”? (The word “heaven” itself warrants another post.)
As time passed Jesus sent out “the twelve” to heal and announce: And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’[a] (Matthew 10:7, ESV). They also had special teaching: He explained to them, “The secret of God’s kingdom has been given to you. But to outsiders everything is told using stories (Mark 4:11, NIRV; so also Matthew 13; Luke 8). No doubt others had the explanations passed on to them. This mysterious approach is described in terms of OT words on hardness of heart. Nonetheless, as can readily be seen, the “kingdom” was a potentially inflammatory topic, fraught with danger to the unwary, as was free use of “Christ”. Telling stories passed on memorable teaching. Telling stories also avoided playing into the hands of revolutionaries.

The same kingdom invitation and opportunity was (is) extended to all, but outcomes are not the same. So that well-known parable (story) of the farmer sowing his seed (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand’
(Luke 8:4-10, ESV).  Note the four results: The sown seeds (in good soil) yielded well; others were lost to birds, or germinated and then withered, or were crowded out. God’s words may be unheeded, given short-lived attention, negated by experience, or really absorbed. The critical variability was not in the quality of the seed (i.e., God’s message), but in the receiver. Help from God is available for the asking.       
Those who responded to Jesus’ kingdom message were ready to hear his direction and promise: But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33, NRSV). Engagement with the kingdom (of God) is possible and is the priority. Those who enter the kingdom do what he wants and thus reflect the nature of its king. (In fact they accept his gift of righteousness and know they are empowered to live accordingly.)

Jesus want(ed/s) his followers to pray for the kingdom to come. Perhaps that was one request which may have seemed especially natural and topical to them? How did people interpret this one? You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name. Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven. (Mathew 6:9-10, CEV). Ask for a kingdom - God's - to be set up right away. But - no swords would ever be needed - rather God personally acting. (But the sword idea did prove persistent.)

In an event recorded by all four in their own ways we read of a fairly tense moment (were there others?). A large crowd deliberately tracked Jesus down in a lonely place. (Did they have an agenda in coming?) From very little food, Jesus fed them. There was enough and more remaining than at the start. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself (John 6:14-15, NRSV). Apparently the crowd were very ready to rebel on the spot, the presence of women and children notwithstanding. It looks also as though the twelve were caught up in that incipient development of a putsch, for: immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone (Matthew 14: 22-23, NLT). Jesus had totally turned down that crowd response. He, as it were, divorced them from himself (that is the word). He did not, would not, launch a rebellion under force. (Perhaps he experienced a return of the original “kingdoms of this world” temptation?) That Jesus could defuse the “revolution now” moment in the crowd, and re-direct his apostles, is a testament to the force of his character. I wonder how long it took him to have his way? Apparently there was no overall mob concern that the innocent might be caught up in violence (sound familiar?). The incident implied rejection or disregard of Jesus’ teaching.

John reports the next day a parting of the ways: Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about his teaching. So he said to them, “Does this upset you? Then what if you see the Son of Man go up to where he was before? The Holy Spirit gives life. The body means nothing at all. The words I have spoken to you are full of the Spirit. They give life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe. And he had known who was going to hand him over to his enemies. So he continued speaking. He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father helps them.”
From this time on, many of his disciples turned back. They no longer followed him
(John 6:60-66, NIRV). A humble deliverer laying down his life for others was not an acceptable substitute for a victorious leader who would make them powerful and prosperous, make them great again. I think a crisis point was reached; many had disappointed hopes and gave up on the man from Galilee whose talk was unacceptable (see John chapter 6 for more detail). 

Politico-military action was simply excluded. Correspondingly, over the months (e.g., Mark 8:29-30) all the Synoptics show Jesus preventing use of "Christ" (Messiah). The powers of the day must have found the situation reports they received a growing puzzle. We see in a number of places that being open became less possible for Jesus.

Corresponding with this picture of disturbance, consider this statement from Jesus: From the time of John the Baptist until now, violent people have been trying to take over the kingdom of heaven by force (Matthew 11:12, CEV). Luke has a similar statement (16:16).  “Violence”, “violent ones” and “force” pose a puzzle to translators. It would be easier if Jesus was referring to all the violent “free Israel, etc” episodes before him. Those events would have made a strong memory and they can not have been far from minds at the time. How could Jesus have referred to their history from the exile? Did he ever? Surely the erroneous human power mindset was entrenched amongst its proponents, similarly to today. (When did “terrorism" start?)

Previously discussed is the initial announcement that the kingdom was at hand. It would not be something to visualise far in the future. That was wrong thinking, for, Jesus’ works (and words) made it clear God’s kingdom had come: But if I am casting out demons by the power of God,[a] then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you (Luke 11:20, NLT). Some translate the final phrase as “has come upon you”, or, “has come to you”. Not even then still pending in the near future: Once the Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He replied, “The coming of God’s kingdom is not something you can see. People will not say, ‘Here it is.’ Or, ‘There it is.’ That’s because God’s kingdom is among you”(Luke 17:20-21, NIRV). Various translations are offered, but right then and there the kingdom was present. How so? Because Jesus was present on the spot - where this king is, his kingdom is.

A thoughtful person hearing Jesus’ words about the kingdom could have realised that it was a novel kind of kingdom. So, we read: But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14-15, ESV). However that is taken it does not allow for violent struggle. The kingdom demands child-like reception if there is to be entry.

One memorable day Jesus promised his disciples (I think the 12, plus others): And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28, NLT; similarly in Mark 8 and Luke 9). That promise must have been increasingly puzzling in the years post-resurrection. For now, I note that Jesus has a kingdom which would be (has been) revealed. It did not involve the overthrow of the governing powers but rather revelation.

In the period of Jesus' final Passover a critical episode is recorded variably in all four Gospels and was surely not soon forgotten. The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold,  your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him (John 12: 12-16, ESV; also Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19). Jesus is acclaimed king, the king of Israel. Responses to that development varied at lot! The event could be seen as echoing the Old Testament, but not matching contemporary experience of regime change. It was puzzling - a deliverer, but not a general? Time would clarify things for the people actually of Jesus’ kingdom; others would be disillusioned.

Yes, Jesus had earlier proclaimed the time of the setting free of the oppressed (see post “Worship”). Nevertheless, by the time of that final week surely it could and ought to have been clear that he was not going to make a messianic call on his followers for them to rise up. (This despite the fact that a couple of the followers were carrying swords - see Luke 22:38.) It should really have been evident that, contrary to the thoughts of others, he turned aside any notion of setting up a renovated state of Israel (or Judah).

Near the end we find Jesus and supporters and detractors in the splendid (courtesy of Herod) Temple; not too far away are the reinforced Roman legionaries (doubtless keeping a low profile). Interrogations of Jesus were increasingly aggressive. There is a very pointed moment: Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us Jesus presented a parable of the failed, stolen vineyard. “What will the owner of the vineyard do then? He will come and kill those renters. He will give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read what this part of Scripture says,
“ ‘The stone the builders didn’t accept
    has become the most important stone of all (Mark 12:9-10, NIRV). All four witnesses recount the frustrated desire to arrest Jesus right then; fear of the “mob” prevented action.

Matthew adds these lines which must have been truly repugnant and stupid to “them”. 
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits (Matthew 21:43, ESV). Jesus' unacceptable prediction of the loss of the kingdom of God from "you" (plural, i.e., them as speaking for “the Jews”) to others must have been confronting. (This is one of Matthew’s few uses of the phrase, “kingdom of God”, not “of heaven”). In what sense did “they” hold that kingdom to lose it? (See further below.) That kingdom will instead be given to: “a nation”?, “a people”? “people”? (All of these renderings are possible - I prefer the last.) If in their fury they considered Jesus’ words, I wonder how they took them?

This was not the first time Jesus had spoken in this way. For example, the time he responded to great trust in a Centurion (Roman army officer): I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12, NRSV). Impossible! The heirs excluded whilst outsiders are included!

In time it must have become clear to some, or many, that God's kingdom is given to no one human entity; not nation, nor ethnicity, nor race. Gentiles would become children of promise and be "grafted in”, joining the true Israelites in the one new people. Previously the Israelites had been privileged recipients of God's Word; historically they held a very special position because of their task, see for example: Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests (Exodus 19:5-6, CEV). God had a purpose for their nation but “they” had frustrated that purpose. God’s love and mercy may be rejected. The alternative response was (is) always possible but they had really been called to be God's royal priesthood for the world. (Today that invitation is to all who are "in Christ", whatever their ancestry or starting point.)

Just before executing him, Pontius Pilate (Roman Governor) showed surprising interest in talking to the arrested Jesus. All four Gospels have Pilate’s question arising from the Jewish leaders’ allegation, reported by Luke:  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so” (Luke 23: 2-3, ESV). The significance placed on the word “Christ” shows how explosive it was. Pilate must have not given credence to the taxes red-herring lie.  (He would be well aware of currents in the populace.)

Pilate showed readiness to defy the priestly and scribal brigade (perhaps for his own cynical reasons). Then Pilate went back inside the palace. He ordered Jesus to be brought to him. Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea?” Jesus asked. “Or did others talk to you about me?”
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not from this world. If it were, those who serve me would fight. They would try to keep the Jewish leaders from arresting me. My kingdom is from another place.”
“So you are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, that’s the reason I was born. I was born and came into the world to be a witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” Pilate replied. Then Pilate went out again to the Jews gathered there. He said, “I find no basis for any charge against him. But you have a practice at Passover time. At that time, you ask me to set one prisoner free for you. Do you want me to set ‘the king of the Jews’ free?”
(John 18:33-39, NIRV). Anyone who claimed power of a kind to bear any arms and hold territory, or to reduce revenue, would get a swift, unmistakable response from a governor such as Pilate. Jesus clearly did not ever make or allow such a claim. He did claim kingship and spoke of a kingdom, but not kingship of a kind ever seen before (or since) and not one evoking confrontation by Roman weapons. Pilate evidently recognised this in some bemused or warped way; sufficiently well for his requirements. He wrapped up the affair with a “final solution”.

Matters ran their course and Jesus died on the Roman cross. Two others were executed that day. Towards the end one spoke in surprising "kingdom" terms. He seemed to have an advanced understanding: Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise”(Luke 23:42-43, NLT). As seen here and in many contexts (above, and more) there was an expectation, even against all appearances, of Jesus having a dominion, God's dominion. I wonder what the dying thief meant?

Jesus rose from the Jewish tomb "on the third day". Could anyone believe that? In front of them they had quite a challenge to their thinking. As we see here, not least was their struggle with that kingdom concept:
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”(Acts 1:3-11, ESV). As is often the case, Luke’s Acts 1 record is a condensation. We hear part of what was said. Definitely Jesus spoke of God's kingdom; definitely the apostles heard this; apparently they were (still) looking to see a renovated Israel, the Davidic dominion. Disciples (some of them?) had been anticipating that Jesus of Nazareth, their (now risen) Messiah, would 'restore the kingdom' to their nation. They heard Jesus say a lot about the kingdom. Maybe they also were people who still felt to some degree they would only be truly free to live under God when they were free of Roman (or any other) control! “Let’s have God’s rules, now!” The emphasis is absence of control by external authority.

Perhaps they had been remembering what Jesus said in the days of his ministry: My little group of disciples, don’t be afraid! Your Father wants to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32, CEV). Recalling such words may well have been a great reassurance in the final Passover events. Did that promise seem permission to retain wrong kingdom thinking? I think they had yet to appreciate some words pointing far forward (to today): I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16, NRSV). There is one flock, not one identifiable entity. Unless this "bringing" is seen as a yet-to-be-realised promise for the end time, it consigns today’s “churchism” to irrelevance.

Understandably it required some time for the followers (disciples) of Jesus to integrate their whole experience of him during the time he was present with them, with the stunning implications of his being alive from the dead to die no more. Yet Rome’s presence was unaltered. A radical change in circumstances brought a need to reconsider, to imagine anew, to interpret in a new way. Not completed overnight I think! However, when what Jesus said above is fully accepted, surely no room remained(s) for an identified (political) nation of God. As the book of Acts reveals, old (mental) barriers were progressively removed. (The Roman legions [under Vespasian; then Titus] would complete the deconstruction of the old by destroying the Temple in A.D. 70.)

Eventually followers were able to grasp that Jesus had completely rejected any kingdom of this world. They and their successors ought to have recognised that God was not about to endorse a realm with political status or physical means. Nor will God do so now. Just what kind of kingdom had Jesus said so much about? That may be another post. The above (which is edition 3) is not exhaustive.

From the beginning Jesus was seen as king. Jesus claimed a kingdom, not of this world.  He is king of his kingdom. He has and welcomes servants (followers) but his retinue is unique.  "The Kingdom of God/Heaven" was a major topic for Jesus. At the time many wrong (human) ideas about God's kingdom were prevalent. Jesus rejected use of force or compulsion.

Scripture quotations marked (CEV) are from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIRV) are taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL READER'S VERSION®.Copyright © 1996, 1998 Biblica. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of Biblica.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NRSV) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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