“Thy kingdom come.”
Last week in Part 1, we explored the nature of the kingdom of God. This week, let us explore how His kingdom comes.
We do not pray that we may come to God’s kingdom; His kingdom comes to us by grace. Jesus made this point in his conversation with Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Augustine’s commentary is helpful here:
“‘Come,’ therefore, is to be understood in the sense of ‘manifested to men.’ For in the same way also as a light which is present is absent to the blind, and to those who shut their eyes; so the kingdom of God, though it never departs from the earth, is yet absent to those who are ignorant of it.” (Augustine, 354-430 A.D.)
Therefore, the kingdom is present, but it must come to those who would enter it. Let us look at three of Jesus’ parables, which illustrate how the kingdom comes to us.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matt 13:31-32)
This first parable contrasts the kingdom’s small beginning with its large future. The kingdom begins small from a human perspective, appearing insignificant and going unnoticed – like a tiny seed. But it grows naturally and when it reaches full maturity, the kingdom – like a mature tree with many branches – will be large and everyone will take notice. God’s kingdom spreads throughout the world through the proclamation of the Word, by which the Holy Spirit calls people into the kingdom by giving them repentance and faith.
Here we pray: Father, may your kingdom come to us, that we may be counted among those who keep your name holy and live according to your will. Grant us faithful churches and pastors to proclaim your Word and Gospel in purity throughout the world, that your kingdom may come to others.
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Matt 13:33)
This second parable focuses on the hiddenness of God’s kingdom. Leaven is a small amount of old fermented dough (reserved from a previous baking), which is added to new dough. Both the leaven and its process are hidden in the new dough. There, the leaven works its way through the new dough until the entire batch is leavened.
Jesus, previous to that parable, taught his disciples about the hidden nature of the kingdom:
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children….no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt 11:25, 27).
The kingdom of God is hidden from the human faculties of wisdom and reason. Paul refers to the “word of the cross” as the “foolishness of God” and the “weakness of God” (1 Cor 1:25), because the message of Christ crucified appears foolish and weak when viewed through the lens of human wisdom and reason.
Therefore, the spread of God’s kingdom is hidden. Those who enter the kingdom share two attributes in common. First, the kingdom must be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit working through God’s holy Word and Gospel. Second, we must receive the Spirit’s revelation like children (i.e., by faith, not according to human wisdom and reason).
The devil, the world and our flesh use human wisdom and reason to attack our faith in Christ (to make faith appear foolish). Here are a few examples: The inspiration of the Scriptures is undermined by text critics; naturalism is promoted rather than a creator God; the message of the Gospel and church practices are polluted by leaders employing spiritual entrepreneurship; and churches surrender the moral teachings of the Scriptures in favor of progressivism.
If human wisdom and reason get the upper hand, then God’s wisdom becomes foolishness. If that happens to us, we become like the seed that was sown along the path: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” (Matt 13:19)
Here we pray: Father, keep us in your Word, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit our faith in our King and His kingdom may daily increase. Let Christ reign in and through us, that we may bear fruit of a healthy tree. Protect us from all attacks and lies which threaten to undermine our trust in your holy Word and our faith in the Gospel of your Son.
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matt 13:24-30; see also Jesus’ explanation in verses 36-43)
This third parable teaches us that God’s kingdom of grace comes and grows in the midst of a world which also contains evil. God’s children and the devil’s children will co-exist in the world until Christ returns. In the meantime, Christians will suffer from the continued presence of evil and sin. However, Christ promises a harvest, which only Christians hope for. At Christ’s return, Christians will inherit eternal life, while the devil’s children will receive eternal judgment.
Here we pray: Come Lord Jesus and crush Satan under our feet. Deliver us from this evil age. Let no sin or evil rule over us. Remember us in your kingdom, and make us fit to enter your everlasting kingdom of glory. Amen.
Next week we will continue with the third petition: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.