Chapter 21 of Luke shows us Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem, the week of his death. Everyone he is with is enamored with the beauty of the temple, but Jesus is not impressed. He is more concerned with what is going on inside of the temple and inside of the hearts of the people within it. He is more concerned with creating a new temple for him to dwell in. He is more concerned with establishing a kingdom and a throne that will last forever.
A simple question, 'when is the kingdom coming?', has sparked all kinds of debate and confusion. Jesus addressed two different groups as he answered this question; the pharisees and his followers. At the heart of his response we see the same message to both: don't miss the kingdom of God by building your own.
Long thought of by many as a depiction of the afterlife, Jesus once told a fictional story that had much more to do with how God's people were living their current lives on earth, and how they were treating others made in God's image. The call of God's people has always been to use their blessings to be a blessing to others, inviting all into the loving community and kingdom of God. The main audience for this story Jesus was telling had lost that calling. What about us? How are we living out this call?
What does prodigal mean? The reckless and extravagant use of resources.
Jesus once told a story of two brothers; the younger who ran away from home and squandered his father’s inheritance, the older who stayed home and squandered his father’s presence. But the story is really about the father, who lavishly spent all of his resources to bring both of his sons into his loving arms.
What is the Kingdom of God about? Luke seems to think Jesus was breaking it down very simply for us: love God, love people, be with the King Jesus. In chapter 11, Jesus teaches us how to pray for the way of the kingdom, and at the heart of the prayer is a reshaping of our own hearts toward loving God, loving people, and being with the King.
This concluding doxology chimes in exactly with the message of the prayer as a whole: God's kingdom, God's power, and God's glory are what it's all about. To pray this prayer is to pray that God's kingdom may be seen in all the world as they see the glory of Jesus the Messiah. It is because God is King, and has become King in Jesus, that we can pray this prayer with confidence.
Daily needs and desires point beyond themselves to God's promise of the kingdom in which death and sorrow will be no more. The promise of the kingdom includes our daily needs and desires, and this prayer asks for our desires to be satisfied in God's way and God's time. This prayer urges us to pray with the wider Christian family, and human family, standing alongside the hungry and praying on their behalf. It is a prayer for the complete fulfillment of God's kingdom: for God's people to be rescued from hunger, guilt and fear.
The second main petition of the Lord's Prayer rules out any idea that the Kingdom of God is a purely heavenly reality. "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When we pray this Kingdom-prayer we are praying, as Jesus was praying and acting, for the redemption of the world; for the radical defeat of evil; for heaven and earth to be married at last; for God to be all in all. We pray this for the world, and we pray this for the church.