In the Scriptures*, the disciples* wrote about the kingdom. Mark* and Luke* speak about the ‘kingdom of God’. Matthew* uses the phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven’.* They seem to be speaking of the same thing. The Gospels* tell us that Jesus talked about the kingdom all the time.
But what did Jesus mean when he spoke of the kingdom?
This question is not easy to answer. One reason is that much of what Jesus said about the kingdom, he said in parables.* A parable is a short story that has a special meaning. Sometimes, Jesus told these stories to help people understand what he talked about. Sometimes, he used parables so that people would not understand what he was saying.
Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a great wedding meal because lots of people are invited to come. The kingdom of God is like something of great value that is hidden in a field. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who owns land. He hires people to work in his field. Some start work at the beginning of the day, some in the middle of the day, and some at the end of the day. But when the work day is over he pays them all the same amount. He said the kingdom of God is like a small seed. It is very small, but it grows very big.
He also said things about the kingdom as he walked with his disciples. He said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom. He says that if you want to enter the kingdom you have to do so like a little child. He said that you should look for the kingdom of God and what is right before you look for anything else. When you do, everything else in this world – like food and clothing – will be added to them.
So how do we understand ‘may your kingdom come’?
A kingdom is where someone has authority. We may not have a king where we live. But we do understand what having a king means. A kingdom is the place where the king is the boss. In that place, the king’s word is law.* The kingdom of God is found where God is king.
The Old Testament* tells us that God rules over all things. He is the Lord most high, a great king over all the earth. And the New Testament* says that Jesus came to earth to establish a kingdom.
When we believe in Jesus, we become a part of his kingdom. This kingdom began with a small group of people. But it has been growing. And now, in every part of the world, there are men and women who know and follow Jesus, their king. If Jesus rules in someone’s life, the kingdom of heaven is there. If Jesus rules in someone’s home, the kingdom of heaven is there.
But Jesus and the prophets* and apostles* also spoke about the kingdom in another way. They spoke of a day when God’s kingdom will be complete. All who are a part of this kingdom will know God and honor* him. In every place and in every heart*, Jesus will rule. And the kingdom will cover the whole earth ‘as the waters cover the sea’. When Christ returns, he will set up his kingdom and bring heaven to earth. He will make a new heaven and a new earth. He will live there with his people for ever and ever.
When we pray ‘may your kingdom come,’ we are praying for the kingdom of God to come to earth where Jesus Christ will rule for ever and ever. But we are also praying that the kingdom would be here and now. And that it would grow and grow. We pray that people would hear the good news of the kingdom and obey the king now. When people believe and obey the gospel, they are part of the Body of Christ on earth. They belong in the new kingdom.
We ask God to help us live today as we will one day live. As citizens of the kingdom, we are to begin to live in a way that honors our King. We obey our king. What Jesus says is our law. And we are to become the hands and the heart and the mind, and the feet and the ears, and the welcoming arms of Jesus
How does this kingdom come? We take the good news of Jesus to every land and people. When people come to believe, they become part of the kingdom. They become people who honor Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords. And they will be among those who will live in the new heaven and new earth that he will make when he comes back.
When we pray, ‘may your kingdom come’, we ask God to complete the promise that he made to Abraham* and David.* We pray that he will do everything in us and on the earth that the prophets said he would do. We pray that he will return and fix all of the things that are broken. We pray for the day when every knee will bow before the Lord Jesus. When we pray, ‘may your kingdom come’, we pray that this day will come soon.