READ : Psalm 24:1-10
In Jesus, God has come to free us from every evil power, every false lord, and to rule over us as our true King. Our part is to repent, believe, and welcome his reign. Come, Lord Jesus!
Review and Introduction
Welcome to this third in our series on the Lord’s Prayer. Since this wonderful prayer has such a unity to it, let’s review a bit where we’ve been. The first thing Jesus wanted the disciples to know about prayer is the One on whom we are to call. Jesus names him “Father,” Abba, and reveals in his own life the kind of father God is.
And then the first thing he calls the disciples to pray, in terms of a petition, is that God’s name be hallowed. We are not to start with clamoring concerns of ours, but to realize that we belong to God. Now we have a new life-prayer, not circling around our own needs and concerns but around the God who has made us and redeemed us and given us all we have. So we pray for his name to be honored in the praises of his people, in the consistent living of those who follow him, and also in the proclamation of this good news so that everybody in the world may hear and know and give glory to God’s name. Now today it’s “Thy Kingdom Come.”
What is the Kingdom of God?
Big question: What is the kingdom of God? We can’t miss the fact when we read the Gospels that it’s the main theme of Jesus’ teaching. Now, from any past reading or studying you may have done, how many things did Jesus say the kingdom of God is like? I think of a mustard seed, of leaven, of a sower sowing, of fishermen with a net, a pearl of great price, a treasure hidden in a field, and a harvest. These point to the power of life, to supreme value, and final judgment. They give us clues that God’s kingdom is not a territory or an organization, not primarily a new social order. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words used here speak of God’s actual reigning, something dynamic, a putting forth of God’s royal power.
Hasn’t God Always Been King?
We’re praying about God’s kingdom coming. But hasn’t God always been King, sovereign, ruler over everything? The Bible makes that plain. He is the king of glory. He is the king of the nations; he reigns over all the earth. He’s the Lord of hosts, he’s the creator and the king, the true God, the everlasting king (Psalm 5:2; 10:16; 24:7-10; 47:6-8; Isaiah 6:2; 43:15; Jeremiah 10:10).
But our disobedience has created a new situation Our rebellion against God has opened a door for the powers of evil. Remember what Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians? He said, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath,” and “Do not make room for the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
What he’s saying is that when you cherish some grudge, when you hold on to some resentment, you open the way for the Evil One to gain a foothold in your life. And because of our sin, that’s what has happened in all of us. And the Bible shows that we have somehow become subject to alien powers. False lords have had dominion over us.
How much of the misery in the world, the blighted potential, the terrible strife has been let loose through these “other lords” who have come to rule over us! But the Old Testament holds out the hope of God’s making things right, his freeing the captives.
The Promise of a King in David’s Line, the Kingdom Coming
A king is promised in the line of David who will bring about wonderful things. The government will be upon his shoulders. He will be the prince of peace. He will act for the poor and needy and deliver the oppressed. He’ll have a continuing world-wide reign. And what a different kind of king – ” triumphant yet humble, and speaking peace to the nations (Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 72:4-5, 8, 12-14, 17; Zechariah 9:9-10)!
No king in Israel or Judah ever fulfilled this vision. But the prophets say there is one coming, and this promise we see fulfilled in Jesus. He will be sitting upon the throne of David and reigning, but so much more! He’ll be great. He’ll be Son of the Most High. He’ll have a never-ending kingdom. So it’s the coming of a long-awaited king of peace, humble and gracious. But it turns out to be also the coming of God in a human baby, to establish an eternal reign. A king will come, and God will come – “both in the birth of the baby Jesus!
Now we can begin to understand the idea of God’s kingdom coming, his reign breaking into human history. Jesus announces at the beginning of his ministry, “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:9-15). Jesus is the promised Messiah, anointed by the Spirit. He is attested from heaven as God’s beloved Son. His first assignment is to encounter the false ruler, the Tempter, whom he defeats. Then Jesus begins to proclaim the gospel, the good news, and these are his words (v. 15). “this is what the prophets have been pointing to, the time of fulfillment.”
And it’s plain from the start that Jesus is entering enemy-occupied territory.
Round 1 – the temptation in the wilderness.
Round 2 – when Peter tries to dissuade him from the way to the cross
Round 3 – when the devil puts it in Judas’s heart to betray him. This is Jesus’ “hour” and it seems that Satan has won.
Then the mighty victory of God’s kingdom comes in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. That’s when God’s kingly rule breaks in. By the power of crucified love comes victory over sin, death, and the devil’s power. So the cross and the resurrection are the decisive triumph. But as in warfare, the decisive victory is often followed by mopping-up operations. Gettysburg or the Battle of the Bulge didn’t mean that those wars had ended. They meant that the final outcome was clear, but the “mopping-up operations” continued. The enemy still frantically battled. And that’s going on now.
The Responses We are to Make
What response are we to make to this in-breaking of the kingdom of God? Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has drawn near, repent and believe the gospel.” What does it mean to repent? In the Old Testament, the major word used is the word for “turn.” In the New Testament, it’s “a change of mind,” heart, attitude, orientation. In this situation, to repent is to renounce all the false lords that have had dominion over us, all the sin and bondage that has gripped us, and resign our pretensions to be king of our own lives. We are to lay any imagined throne or crown we have down.
And then, not only to repent but to believe the good news that God has come in Jesus to set us free. Welcome him, trust him, as your Savior and King. And that faith involves not only knowledge and acceptance, but also commitment. You surrender to his loving rule. You bow to him as your Lord and King (Romans 10:9). “If you confess with your mouth,” says Paul, “Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
In response to all his mercies you present your body a living sacrifice, offering up your whole self to his service, body, members, heart, all we’ll do, everywhere we’ll go, our resources, mind, emotions, and will. Then pray for the filling of God’s Spirit and trust Jesus to live out his life in us. Fling wide the gates for the king to come and reign in every part of your life. Make, as the saying says, “your heart to be Christ’s home” and invite him into every part of that dwelling.
What are we asking?
So, friends, when we pray “Your kingdom come,” what are we asking? What are we wanting and longing for? Remember that this petition, along with “Hallowed be your name” is to be our “life-prayer,” our life-passion. We’re praying really, “O Lord, come and reign” over us and over all the earth.
Reign in our hearts, in us who are believers. May you rule in every aspect of our lives. May Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” be the direction in which our lives move. May I aim more nearly each day to see you reign in my life, your kingly rule to be honored.
And, friends, if we wholeheartedly desire that God’s rule be everywhere extended, we’ll be praying for people everywhere to repent, believe, and surrender, won’t we? We pray for adherents of other world religions. We pray for all to recognize the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. May they all realize that he has come bringing God’s saving rule and that they are to repent and believe in him. We believe God has done something decisive for all people in the life, death and rising of Jesus. Everyone should know of him, hear his call, come under his loving rule. So pray for people everywhere to bow the knee to our crucified and risen king.
And then when we pray for the kingdom we also remember the words of the apostle Paul that the kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” We’re praying for justice and for integrity in a world of corruption, crime, and falsehood. We’re praying for peace, the overcoming of discord through forgiveness and reconciliation. We’re asking for harmony, the lion lying down by the lamb, swords being beaten into plowshares. We’re praying for joy – the gladness of Jesus’ wonderful parables about the pearl of great price and the treasure hidden in a field. We want people to know that the kingdom of God is like this, to have Jesus as the Lord of your life is the greatest of all joys (Psalm 96).
And finally, what we’re praying for ultimately, friends, is that the day will hasten on when every knee will bow to Jesus, when every tongue will confess him as Lord (Philippians 2:5-11). And all of that will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again. So the final answer to this petition that we pray in the Lord’s Prayer arrives in answer to this simple cry, “Come, Lord Jesus! Let it be so!” Amen.