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The Upside-Down Kingdom

Your Kingdom Come

Rev. Philip Miller | May 1, 2022

Scripture Reference: Psalms 103:19, Psalms 110:1, Psalms 115:3, Psalms 145:13, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 6:9—13, Matthew 6:10, Matthew 16:19, Matthew 28:18, Luke 11:20, Luke 17:21, Luke 19:11—12, John 12:31, Acts 1:6—8, Acts 2:34—35, Acts 28:31, 1 Corinthians 15:25, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 1:11, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 10:13, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 21:3—5

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Scripture Reference: Psalms 103:19, Psalms 110:1, Psalms 115:3, Psalms 145:13, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 6:9—13, Matthew 6:10, Matthew 16:19, Matthew 28:18, Luke 11:20, Luke 17:21, Luke 19:11—12, John 12:31, Acts 1:6—8, Acts 2:34—35, Acts 28:31, 1 Corinthians 15:25, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 1:11, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 10:13, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 21:3—5

Selected highlights from this sermon

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

In this passage from the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us how to pray our way through the brokenness of this life. And there is much more contained in these 14 words than we may think. As Pastor Miller takes us through this short verse, we’ll explore four key questions: What is the kingdom of God? Where has the kingdom gone? When will it come? And why should we pray for it to come?

May we all pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

When I was little, I loved fairy tales. Knights, princesses, dragons, and most of all, happily-ever-afters. I was full of wonder and innocence and merriment and endless possibilities. Life was the happiest dream on Earth.

And then one day I woke up. (chuckles) It was the day my pet gerbil gave birth to five squirming, hairless, pink babies. And I discovered the miracle of life one morning, nestled in their little bed of wood shavings, their eyes tightly shut against the dawn of their first waking day. And I thought to myself, “What a wonderful world!” but when I returned later that afternoon, they were gone. Their mother had eaten them all alive. (exhales) Oh, sorry! And for the first time in my life I realized the world is a broken place, that this is not the way it’s supposed to be.

Since then, the world’s brokenness has become a settled fact in my heart and soul. Cancer, tsunamis, pandemics, injustice, war; there is so much tragedy and loss, and trauma, and pain and sorrow down here. Something has gone terribly wrong with the world. And sometimes I’m not even sure how to begin to pray about it.  But Jesus, the Man of all sorrows, who is acquainted with grief, knows what it is like to live in this broken-down world. And He knows how to pray His way through it. And today He’s going to teach us, His followers, how to pray our way through the brokenness of this life.

Would you grab your Bibles? We’re going to be in Matthew 6:9–13, page 811 in your pew Bible there. We’re looking at the Lord’s Prayer. And I want to read it in its entirety, and since, again, it’s so familiar to you and me, would you just say this out loud with me? Can we recite the Lord’s Prayer this morning as we read? Jesus introduces it in Matthew 6:9, and says, “Pray then like this:

(Now let’s do it together)

Our Father in heaven,

  hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

  your will be done,

  On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

  as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

  but deliver us from evil.

[For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”]


Let’s pray together.

Father, as we open your Word, and look at this famous prayer, would you teach us what it means to follow you in all the brokenness of this difficult world. We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen. Amen.

Today we’re going to focus on just one sentence, verse 10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I’d like to organize our thoughts around four key questions this morning:

The first one: What is the kingdom?

The second question: Where has it gone?

The third question: When will it come?

And the fourth question: Why pray for it?


What is the kingdom? Where has it gone? When will it come? And why pray for it?

Let’s jump in this morning.

What is the Kingdom? What is the Kingdom? Jesus is teaching us to pray, “Your kingdom come.” But what exactly does that mean? Well, in the most simple straightforward sense, the kingdom of God is the reign of God. The kingdom of God is the reign of God. The kingdom of God is where God reigns as King.

Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” So you see in that verse the language of reigning. The King is on His throne and He is reigning. That is the kingdom of God. Wherever God reigns as King, there His kingdom is.

Or another way to think about it is that God’s kingdom is the realm over which He has say, the sphere in which His will is carried out. Wherever the will of God is done, there His kingdom is.

Now we can all relate to this because, in a sense, we all have a bit of a kingdom, don’t we? Each of us has a sphere. We have a domain over which we exercise our will in life. We have our own space, right? We have our own belongings. We have our own areas over which we exercise our will. And we’re very territorial about the borders of our kingdom if you think about it: “That’s mine!” “Keep out!” “Stay off my bed!” “That’s my purse!” “Stay in your lane!” Right? That’s kingdom language.

My dad owned a 1984 Buick LeSabre. Does anyone remember what those things looked like? This is ancient history. It had velvet bench seats. Can I have an Amen? Yeah! The velvet bench seats! And we would sit, my sister and I would sit in the back seat and we would use our fingers, and we would draw a line in the nap of the velvet. Her side and my side, right? We’re delineating kingdoms. My domain! Your domain! And what did my sister do? With a finger she invaded my kingdom. (laughter) Right? And we got to bickering. We had a border dispute about the back seat of our Buick LeSabre. And then Dad reached back. He started swatting at us to make us stop fighting. Why? Because whose kingdom does he think the whole car is? It’s his! Okay? That’s kingdom language.

We all have a kingdom. It’s what we have say over in life. It’s part of what it means to be created in the image of God, the Imago Dei. We are created for dominion, to keep and cultivate our little space in the world, “to wield” as C. S. Lewis said, “our little tridents,” you know. It is the image of God, this kingdom impulse, that is reflective of our Father who is King, who rules over all.

So, when we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are asking God to extend the reign of His rule, of His kingship to establish it in the here and now. We are asking that the range of God’s effective will, where He is followed and obeyed as King, would extend to and envelop this world. In heaven everything is just as God wants it, and we’re asking God to make it so down here as well, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Now the logic of these phrases is basically cause and effect: May Your kingdom come, with the result that Your will is done on Earth as it is in heaven. So the problem, friends, is that heaven and Earth are out of sync. In heaven all is well. On Earth, not so much. In heaven God’s will is done perfectly, but on Earth not so.

So our prayer is, “Father, would you sync it up? Would you bring the rule and perfection of heaven down to Earth? Would you make everything right and whole? Would you match everything up again? Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Now it’s interesting that the fact that Jesus tells us to pray, “Your kingdom come” implies something, doesn’t it? It implies that in some sense God’s kingdom is not here, that it is far off, that it is absent. It’s not here. That’s why it has to come. The fact that Jesus tells us to pray, “Your will be done,” implies that it is not being done on Earth as it is in heaven.

So while the Bible asserts that God is King over all (remember Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 115:3, says “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever He pleases.” Ephesians 1:11 says that God works “all things according to the counsel of his will.”) that while all of those things are true, this prayer of Jesus assumes (“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”), assumes that this world is, in some sense, operating outside the rule of God, that it is functioning contrary to His will.

If we are being taught to pray “your kingdom come,” which means it is absent, it must be missing, so the question is: Where has it gone? Where has it gone? Where has the kingdom gone? Well, Jesus gives us the answer. The Bible gives us the answer. If you look at the story arc of the Bible, you will discover that the kingdom has been hijacked by rebels.

The kingdom has been hijacked by rebels. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth, and there was perfect peace and harmony, and all things were right as God presided, enthroned as King and Creator of all. But then came the rebellion. It started with the angels when Satan decided that he wanted to be God, and he led a rebellion against God, and was eventually cast out of heaven. And ever since then, Satan has been hell-bent on warring against God to destroy all that God holds dear. His greatest success was when he convinced humanity, God’s own image bearers, to join up with the rebellion. He tempted our first parents, Adam and Eve, to disobey God, to become gods in their own rights for themselves, and they fell. They fell into sin, rebellion, darkness.

So, friends, Satan hijacked this world to become his kingdom, and sinful humanity fell under his dominion, which is why Paul refers to Satan as the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4. That’s why Jesus calls him the ruler of this world in John 12:31.

Remember when Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness in Luke, chapter 4? One of the temptations was, at the end Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only He would bow down and worship him. It was a legitimate offer. Satan, who has hijacked this world, was offering it back to Jesus if only He would bow down and worship Satan.

Friends, this world, designed for beauty under the kingdom rule of God, has been hijacked by Satan and has fallen under his dominion, and we are part of the rebellion ourselves. Every time we disregard what God says and choose to do what we want instead, we ratify the rebellion against God. We take our God-given lives and hijack them for ourselves. We exile the King, and crown ourselves in His place. And having kicked out the Source of life, we find ourselves dying from the inside out. We find ourselves captive to sinful desires within us. We find ourselves enslaved to the rule of Satan in this world. We find ourselves dominated by the fear of death.

Oh to be free again! Friends, this is not the way it’s supposed to be! “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name! Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

We desperately need the kingdom of God. The question though is: When will it come? When will it come?

Well, in a sense, the kingdom of God never really left. This is a very complicated area of theology, by the way. I’m going to give you my best thinking on this subject. But in a sense, the kingdom of God never really left.

The kingdom is forever. Psalm 145:13, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.” So all the anarchy of our lives and of Satan has in no way actually subverted the sovereign rule of God. He remains seated on His throne, unmovable, unshakable, and unequaled.

Satan is on a leash. Our rebellion is given a limited range in which to run amuck for a season, but never for a moment has God abdicated His throne or His rule. He is biding His time until kingdom come.

Now in another sense, the kingdom has come. The kingdom has come. When Jesus arrived He said things like this:

Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It’s right here! It’s on offer. Just reach out, take My hand, and follow Me into the abundant life of the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 11:20 says, “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ miracles, friends, were evidence that He was indeed the Messiah and that the age of the kingdom had arrived in His coming. As Jesus said to John the Baptist when he wondered if Jesus was the Messiah, the true King, He answered, “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” So in Jesus’ ministry, His miracles, all that He came to do in His life on Earth, the kingdom of God was breaking into space and time.

Luke 17:21, Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” And never was this more clearly displayed than in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, for in this, in this three-fold event as Jesus goes to the cross, rises again, and ascends to the Father’s right hand, sin was defeated, Satan was conquered, and death itself was undone for ever. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 28:18: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

All authority! What does that leave out? Nothing! He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the resurrected and exalted Son of God. He will ascend to His Father’s right hand where He will be seated, enthroned as His Father says to Him, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” That’s Psalm 110:1, the most quoted passage in the New Testament. It’s applied to Jesus in Acts 2:34-35, 1 Corinthians 15:25, Hebrews 1:13, and Hebrews 10:13.

The point is this. In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come. He is seated on His throne. He is exalted to the Father’s right hand. His reign and rule is established forever. And yet, His enemies have not yet been made His footstool. They have not yet been brought into full submission to Him. Oh, sin is defeated, but it still ravages us, doesn’t it? Satan is conquered, but he can still oppress. Death is undone, but it still bites.

So the kingdom has come in Jesus, and yet is not fully here, which is why the Bible also speaks about the kingdom to this very day that the kingdom is coming now. The kingdom is coming now as the Gospel goes forth, friends, and people believe in the good news that Jesus died in their place and for their sake, bearing all their sin and shame on the cross, and rising again to make them right with God.

With every soul that believes on Jesus Christ, Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved son.” Kingdom language. So when we come to place our faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted as sons, and we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Beloved Son. Kingdom language, when people confess that Jesus is Lord, the kingdom of God expands as each life is surrendered to King Jesus.

Now sometimes we don’t think of the kingdom of God as being connected with the life of the church. But the Bible puts these things together. For example, in Acts 28:31, at the very end of the book of Acts, Paul, it’s said, went about “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

So the work of the church, as churches are being planted, as Paul was on his missionary journeys, he was proclaiming the kingdom of God in this moment as the church is being built. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven to the church. And so the kingdom of God is coming even now as Jesus builds His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And yet, there’s a sense in which the kingdom is yet to come. The kingdom is yet to come.

In Luke 19, verses 11 and 12, just prior to the triumphal entry, the week that Jesus is going to be crucified, Jesus tells a parable. Pastor Eric Targe preached on it just a couple weeks ago. It says, “[Jesus] proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, ‘A nobleman went into a far country to receive...a kingdom and return.’”

So Jesus is trying to correct something. The kingdom is not coming in fullness this week. No, no, no, no, no. “I’m going to be crucified, buried, raised, and ascend and go to heaven, and I will return with the kingdom. When I come back as king, the kingdom will come.”

In Acts 1:6–8, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [and Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

You guys don’t worry about when the kingdom’s coming. You have a job to do! “Go into all the world in the power of the Holy Spirit and you will be my witnesses to the very ends of the earth.”

The kingdom will come on the Father’s timetable. Friends, one day Jesus will return. And His kingdom will come in all of its fullness. And all that is broken will be mended, and all that is marred will be made beautiful, and all that is wounded shall be healed, and all that is wrong will be righted, and everything sad will come untrue. “And the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

And so there is a sense, friends, (this is very complicated) that the kingdom of God has always been. It’s always been here. In a sense it’s come in Jesus. In a sense it’s still coming even now as people bow to the Lordship of Christ, and it is yet to come when the king returns. All of this happens on God’s timetable, which leads us to the last question which is: Why pray for it?

Why pray for it if God’s going to do what God’s going to do? If the kingdom is going to come when God wants it to come, and we can’t hurry Jesus along, you know, why pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?”

Here’s why: When we pray this prayer, we are acknowledging God as King. When we pray this prayer, we are acknowledging God as King. “God, You’re King and I’m not.” When we pray this prayer, we are submitting to His rule in our lives, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours, be done.” That’s what we’re praying. “Your kingdom come; not my will, but yours, be done.” When we pray this prayer, we are aligning our hearts with God’s. We’re saying, “Have your way in this world.” And what God most wants is the redemption and renewal and righting of all things in the universe. We’re aligning with what He wants. Have your way, oh God. When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven,” we are praying it on at least three different levels. Let me give them to you.

Number one: “Your kingdom come in me.” Your kingdom come in me. “Father, I’m submitting my own little kingdom to yours. I’m getting off the throne of my life, and I’m surrendering to you. Not my will, but yours, be done. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Be my King. Be my everything. Here I am. I’m yours. I live for your priorities. I will abide in your presence. I will walk by your Spirit for I am yours, and I am yours forever.”

This is amazing, friends. Anyone can conquer another kingdom by force, but God wins our allegiance through His sacrificial love, so that we willingly kneel and worship before Him. This is amazing. “Your kingdom come in me.”

Secondly: we’re praying, “Your kingdom come through me.” “Your kingdom come through me.” Friends, each of us has a little kingdom, a domain, a space over which we have say. We shape our homes that we live in. We express ourselves in our work, in our vocation. We live through relationships. We influence and touch other people, and as Christ increasingly has say over our lives, and all dimensions of our lives, as we come under the rule and reign of the king, our little kingdoms also come under His rule and reign, you see that. We are bringing our kingdoms under His kingdom. Our kingdom comes under His rule, and so we start to ask questions like, “What would it look like if Jesus was the Lord of my home, of my business, of my vocational life? How would Jesus live my life if He was me? How would He serve others? How would He act justly? How would He cultivate peace? How would He love His neighbors? How would He share the good news of Jesus?”

And friends, as we live by the Spirit, following the way of Jesus, bringing our little kingdoms under His rule and reign, our lives become extensions of the kingdom rule of God, and people can begin to glimpse what it might look like when God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Your kingdom come through me.

The third thing we’re praying is “Your kingdom come and take over.” Your kingdom come and take over. This broken world, friends, will never be fully right until Jesus returns. We cannot bring in the fullness of the kingdom of God. Not through social action, not through political leverage. We cannot bring in the kingdom of God. The kingdom will come at the return of the King. He will mend this broken world. He will make beautiful everything that is marred. He will heal all that is wounded. He will make right everything that is wrong, and He will make everything sad come untrue. (applause)

Revelation 21:3–5, one of my favorite passages, John’s vision of the heavens and earth being made new. This is what he says: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”

All things new. (applause) Your kingdom come. Take over! Take over, which is to say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” It’s the same thing. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Amen? Amen.

Let’s pray. Let’s pray.

Father, would you hallow your name in all of the Earth? Wherever you are seen as holy, this world is made whole. May your kingdom come. Rule and reign over every space and corner of this creation, for where you reign, all is right. May your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, in Chicago as it is in heaven, in our families as it is in heaven, in our lives as it is in heaven, in our neighborhoods and workplaces and streets, everywhere we go on Earth, as it is in heaven, for when your will is done, the world is a wonderful place.

Come, make us new, bring your light to shine through our lives that all might see and follow Jesus Christ, and we wait for the return of the King when all things will be made new. We wait with longing expectation. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, we pray, Amen. Amen.

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