Your kingdom come

Matthew 6:9-15 –  Our Father in heaven, by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

(The third sermon in a series on the Lord’s Prayer.)

The once mighty emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is reported to have said the following:[1]

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but on what foundation did we rest the creatures of our genius? Upon force. But Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour, millions of persons would die for Him. I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth to become food for the worms. Such is the fate of him who has been called the ‘great Napoleon.’ What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored and is still existing over the whole earth.

And it is this kingdom that our passage today speaks about too – the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ.

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at the opening of the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father in heaven”) as well as at the first petition (“Hallowed be Your Name”). We’ve seen that Christ has empowered those who have accepted Him as their Saviour to enter into a very personal rela­tionship with His Father, the relationship of a beloved child with a loving father. We’ve also seen that this relationship is balanced with awe and reverence, because God is still the Al­mighty Creator God. Last Sunday we looked at how that reverence and awe, that deep and loving respect flowed on into the first petition. We saw that it is a petition which should guide our lives. It’s a petition in which we should anchor our actions. It is a prayerful request to our Father to let His name be hallowed, to be made great and to be glorified. And it is also a peti­tion that the Father will so lead us that we will do that glorifying even in the way that we live our lives. And it is against that background that we come to the second petition where Jesus says “Your kingdom come”.

Through the centuries there have been various interpretations of what it means when Jesus says “Your kingdom come”. Some have seen it as purely a prayer for the second coming of Christ, nothing more, nothing less. The kingdom of God will only come after the return of Christ. Others have seen it as just a spiritual call to the salvation of souls. Yet others have seen it as purely a social call to action – a mandate to bring about the kingdom now through works of mercy and love.[2]

In a sense each of these positions focuses on a particular facet rather than on the bigger pic­ture. You see, there are different aspects to the petition for God’s kingdom to come. It has to do with the salvation of souls. It does have to do with how we live kingdom lives. And it does also have to do with the final fulfilment when Christ returns. To best understand these different aspects it’s helpful to look at how Jewish people understood “the kingdom.” So we’ll look first at this petition from the perspectives of the past, the present and the future, and we’ll then look at the application for our lives.


[1] Herschel H. Hobbs, My Favorite Illustrations (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 113.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom (Preaching the Word; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 167