In the third chapter of Matthew we are told that John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. This was a new approach to faith and religion. People took notice.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
In chapter six in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus begins to teach about a different way to “do religion.” Jesus often poked holes in the Jewish traditions of the time. I want to put the Lord’s Prayer into the context of the ministry of Jesus.
Before He gives the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus uses a teaching moment to admonish them about prayer and religious practices.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.” Matthew 6:5
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7
On the heels of this teaching Jesus says, “Pray like this…” and speaks the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.” Matthew 6:9–10
It begs the question what is the kingdom of which Jesus speaks? What is the kingdom that John spoke of? What sets this “new” kingdom apart from the world as people (and as we) know it?
I often speak of the kingdom of Jesus as an upside down kingdom. He spoke of love and mercy to a world full of judgment.
The story of the woman caught in adultery is a wonderful snapshot into the upside down kingdom of Jesus. The story is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 8: 1–11
To recap the story, a woman who was caught in adultery was on the verge of being stoned. Let me underscore here that stoning was the appropriate consequence and punishment for adultery. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were not being unduly harsh according to the laws at that time.
Jesus turned the laws upside down when He stated,
But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Jesus shows us that mercy triumphs over judgment when He then tells the woman,
“I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” John 8:11
THY KINGDOM COME
So what does it mean to you and me, when we pray the words, “Thy kingdom come?” I would suggest that we are asking Holy Spirit to align our hearts to God’s upside down kingdom. A kingdom not of this world, but the kingdom of God where we embrace the words of Christ.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come” we choose to live in such a way that we are blessed for being gentle, hungry for righteousness, merciful, peacemakers, and so much more—as Jesus spoke in the sermon on the mount just one chapter before He taught the Lord’s prayer. (Matthew 5:3–12)
When we align our hearts and lives to God’s upside down kingdom, we do not let our hearts be troubled by the world because we have received the peace Jesus gives. (John 14:27)
When we pray the words, “Thy kingdom come” we join with the angel in Revelation 11:15 to proclaim,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”