Today’s Lectio Divina: I (Jesus) came down from heaven not to follow My own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent Me. This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to Me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what My Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who He is and what He does and then aligns with Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time. John 6: 38-40 (MsgB)
Last time, we began a conversation on Jesus’ powerful prayer…
Thy Kingdom come.
The Bible spends a lot of time talking about the Kingdom of God, and if you want to do more reading on the subject, might I suggest George E. Ladd’s classic: The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (1959). According to Ladd, in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for kingdom, malkuth, refers first and foremost, to a reign, a dominion, or rule, and only secondarily to the realm (or location) over which a reign is exercised. So, when the word, malkuth, is aligned with God in the Old Testament, it almost always refers to His authority or His right to rule as the Heavenly King. Yet when Jesus uses the word kingdom (in Greek, basileia) He is taking it one step further, making the strong claim that God’s malkuth (His right to rule, or His kingship) is now being firmly established here on earth.
And it’s this claim…
The time has come…the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! Mark 1: 15 (NIV)
…that set first-century Palestine on its ear.
As we suggested in our last blog/podcast, this type of “kingdom” language that Jesus uses as He traveled around the villages of His day, was nothing less than Messiah-talk to those living under the oppressive thumb of Caesar and his puppet leaders, Pontius Pilate and King Herod.
So, when Jesus added the phrase…
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
…to His prayer, it did nothing but fuel the fires of revolution for the oppressed poor.
Yet, from the historical accounts we have about Jesus of Nazareth, we know that He did just about everything wrong if He truly wanted to become the military leader Israel was looking for.
Even Pontius Pilate, when pressed hard by Jesus’ enemies, could not find any evidence that Jesus was public-enemy #1. Under pressure, we know that Pilate even sent Jesus off to King Herod for questioning, but the public records show that Herod was underwhelmed by this carpenter from Nazareth.
So, why do I bring all this history into play when we’re looking at The Lord’s Prayer?
My simple answer lies in Jesus’ words we read today from John’s Gospel. Let me restate them again here…
I (Jesus) came down from heaven not to follow My own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent Me. This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to Me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what My Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who He is and what He does and then aligns with Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.
You see, when you and I pray The Lord’s Prayer, saying…
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
We are not praying for a military coup. We are not praying for an earthly nation to become the kingdom of God, nor are we asking God to come down and destroy all the evil that traffics in this sometimes very lost and darkened world we live in.
According to Jesus, we’re asking for the perfect will of God, the Father to be completed, and when we add in Jesus’ role in all this, we’re actually asking God to empower Jesus to “have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole,” at the end of time.
I love the way John 3: 16-17 (MsgB) puts all this:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
When you and I pray…
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
We’re asking for the King of the Universe, our Poppa who rules and reigns in heaven, to fulfill His perfect will of love and redemption here on earth. A will that began in the mind of God long before time began. A will that was inaugurated here on earth through the first coming of Jesus. A will that was perfectly demonstrated through Christ and His three years of ministry which included His complete obedience to the Cross and Resurrection. A will that will continue being fulfilled by Christ, who never leaves us or forsakes us, through every generation from the beginning to the end. And finally, a will that will be ultimately consummated by Jesus, when He returns for His second coming, summing up all things in Him so that “everything and everyone will be put together, upright and whole.”
Wow! Now that’s a mouthful, huh?
As I see it, that’s pretty exciting stuff we’re praying for when we pray Jesus’ prayer.
Shall we pray?
My Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the reminder that it’s Your Father and Your obedience to the will of Your Father that will ultimately be the Kingdom game-changer here on planet Earth. Father God, I needed that reminder so that I never take it upon myself to bring God’s Kingdom or act on behalf of God’s Kingdom, making things happen out of my own strength. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to play my part by 1) praying diligently for God’s Kingdom to come, and 2) then following Jesus obediently as He completes His work of setting the world right. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions To Ponder: How have I taken Jesus’ prayer, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, and made it my responsibility or my work to get something good done for God? What might it look like for me to use my time, strength, and energies in obediently following Jesus as He fulfills the will of the Father, while I simply come along with Him in the journey?
So, what is God speaking to you as you ponder on The Lord’s Prayer?
Over a period of four weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take you on a journey (12-sessions) we call Contemplating The Prayer: Pondering Anew The Prayer of Jesus. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read. Each session also ends with a few thoughts to ponder on. I look forward to hearing some of your insight as we journey together!
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!