Your kingdom come,
Many Christians do not realize that all of Jesus’ teachings and ministry can be easily summed into one sentence: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 4:17).” The entire life of Jesus centered around the idea that He was bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth. The Jews of Christ’s day understood that this was Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. From the moment that God promised King David an offspring with an eternal throne in 2 Samuel 7, the Israelites waited for the appearance of that great Davidic King, who would reign forever over Israel and the world. By announcing the arrival of the heavenly kingdom, Jesus implicitly declared that He is the promised descendent of David.
Throughout the gospels, we read of Jesus’ teachings regarding the kingdom of heaven. Most of these instructions came through parables. In Matthew 13, after Jesus told the parable of the sower, His disciples asked Him why He spoke in parables. Jesus answered, “To you is has been give to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… This is why I speak in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand (v. 11,13).” Jesus taught about the kingdom in parables as a means of both revealing its secrets to His disciples but also concealing them from others. In other words, the kingdom of God is not all-inclusive. Jesus did not first come in the glorious and splendid fashion that the Jews expected; rather, Jesus inaugurated His kingdom quietly, unveiling it only to His followers.
This backwards and upside-down display of God’s kingdom is also on display in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In chapters 5-7 of Matthew, Jesus essentially presents the picture of how citizens of His kingdom are meant to live, which are all completely counter to what comes natural for us. For instance, we find normal and, sometimes, appropriate to respond violently to those who are violent against us, but Jesus says instead, “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matt. 5:39).” Then He goes even further by commanding, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45).” Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom must be ready to go against what comes natural to us in order to do what God desires of us.
In praying for God’s kingdom to come, we ought to consider three applications.
First, knowing that we are a part of God’s kingdom should remind us that Jesus is our King. Asking God for the kingdom to come is a prime opportunity to remember that our lives are all about Jesus and His glory and honor. We live to serve the King, not ourselves, in all that we do.
Second, though Jesus inaugurated the kingdom with His life, death, and resurrection, the kingdom of God is yet to be consummated. In other words, we know that Jesus is King, but we do not yet see that reality fully around us. Therefore, we should pray that Christ would make His second coming to earth to consummate His kingdom fully.
Third, this prayer helps remind us that God’s kingdom is expanding everyday, and it is doing so through the making of disciples. God has ordained for us to be instruments in the spreading of His kingdom into all the earth, which happens by obeying the Great Commission. Thus, we must pray that God would guide and use us for the coming of His kingdom.
Mediate upon the kingdom of God and your responsibility to live and expand it.
Pray that Jesus would become more clear to you as King, that God’s kingdom would come in all of Christ’s glory, and that you would be active in expanding the kingdom now.