Jean’s Gospel:Introducing the Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come – Part 1
“Thy kingdom come.”
In this second petition, we pray that God’s kingdom will come.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
At the heart of Jesus’ preaching was his announcement of the arrival of a new kingdom. Matthew’s Gospel frequently (but not always) labels it the “kingdom of heaven,” while Mark, Luke and John’s Gospels always label it the “kingdom of God.” Virtually all commentators agree that both labels refer to the same kingdom, but they differ in their explanations for why Matthew alone often labels it the “kingdom of heaven.”
A common explanation is that Matthew used “heaven” as a paraphrase for his original Jewish readers so they could avoid pronouncing the name of “God.” However, that explanation fails to account for many places in Matthew’s Gospel where the name of “God” remains. While we may never know for certain, one reason for why we see “kingdom of heaven” frequently in Matthew’s Gospel may be to emphasize that Jesus brought a kingdom “not of this world.” (John 18:36)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Just what and where is this kingdom of God? The Scriptures point us to Jesus. The kingdom arrived through the incarnation of the eternal Word. Jesus personifies the kingdom: He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25); He is the way and the truth (John 14:6); He is the vine in whom we the branches abide (John 15:5); and He “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
Therefore, the locus of the kingdom is in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14)
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28)
As the One who personifies the kingdom, Jesus is its King. What distinguishes His kingship from all earthly kings is that Jesus reigns by serving His people; not by receiving from His people, but by giving to His people. His greatest service was laying down His life for our sins. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17)
Paul described life in the kingdom as: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus won these gifts for us on the cross. The Holy Spirit delivers us these gifts through the proclamation of His Word. Let us take a brief look at these gifts:
Righteousness. Jesus gives us righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Quoting David, Paul describes this righteousness: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom 4:7-8) Jesus connects righteousness to His Word and faith: “I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) Righteousness signifies both God’s declaration of right standing before God and adoption into His family.
Peace. Jesus gives us peace (John 14:27). This includes peace with God through Christ (Rom 5:1). Paul urges us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. (Col 3:15). Peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What distinguishes the peace of Christ from the world’s peace is that His peace is eternal, not transitory. His peace enables us to live with a clear conscience before God and to endure temptations and hardships, because we have forgiveness in Christ and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
Joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us joy (John 17:13). Joy also is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We rejoice that Jesus defeated death and “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31) for our benefit, and because He is present with us in His Word and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:50-52)
The kingdom of God that we experience here in time (sometimes referred to as His “kingdom of grace”) is Christ’s reign in our lives through His Word and faith. This kingdom is not a temporal or geographical kingdom. Christ has promised us something infinitely greater at His second coming: the resurrection of the body and everlasting life; a new heaven and a new earth; the removal of all evil; and the cessation of all mourning and suffering.
At His second coming, Jesus will sit in final judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor 5:10; see also Matt 25:31-32) Christians look forward to the final judgment for the removal of all evil which currently blights our world. Christians do not fear the final judgment because in Christ (i.e., in His kingdom) we have the forgiveness of sins.
Next week in Part 2 we will look at how His kingdom comes.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (Rom 8:22-24) Amen.
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