Thy Kingdom Come
“Thy kingdom come...”
Matthew 6:10, KJV
If you were to ask most New Testament scholars what the central theme of the Gospels is, the majority would undoubtedly answer, “the Kingdom of God.” When Jesus begins His ministry, for example, Mark tells us that He did so by, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.’” (Mark 1:14-15) And, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus implores His disciples to continue preaching the good news of the kingdom (Mark 16:15). The Gospel is good news, precisely because it announces the arrival of the “kingdom.”
If you are an American—even one who vicariously indulges in watching The Crown—the term “kingdom” probably sounds a bit fantastic. Yet, this is the choice term the Gospel writers use to help us understand Jesus’ work. So what does the Bible mean when it uses the term “kingdom of God?” A helpful and simple definition is that the kingdom God is “God’s rule.” This includes, of course, the powerful and righteous acts of God witnessed throughout the Scriptures. The rule of God comes to its fullest expression, though, through the ministry of Jesus. When Jesus casts out demons, or heals a sick person, we see first-hand the restorative power of God’s rule (i.e., the kingdom).
Not only does Jesus preach about the kingdom of God and give us glimpses of its power through His miracles, He also invites us to pray for its coming. During the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays, “thy kingdom come.” In doing so, He shows us that God’s kingdom (its full realization being in the future) needs to be brought into the present.
The main way this happens, as Martin Luther asserts in his Small Catechism, is via the Holy Spirit. In answer to the question “How does God’s kingdom come?” Luther writes, “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”
So, when we pray “thy kingdom come,” let us remember that we are asking God to send His Holy Spirit into our lives and into the lives of others. We are asking God to bring healing where there is sickness, renewal where there is decay and restoration where there is disrepair.