We have come to the end of our Lord's Prayer series and below is the text for the message from yesterday along with the questions for discussion. Would love to hear your thoughts, comments, etc.. about the message, the Scripture and the conversation that followed.
So we have finally come to the end of our six week series on the Lord’s Prayer. This amazing, upside-down, Kingdom prayer which we have many times called The Disciple’s Prayer, because it gives us such a picture of what following Jesus and being part of the Kingdom of God is all about.
These past weeks for me have been challenging, encouraging, convicting, and seem to be right where I’ve been living. I pray that you have felt the same thing and that through this experience your discipleship and following Jesus has taken another step.
But today we are wrapping up the Lord’s Prayer and this part of the Lord’s Prayer is no less radical, subversive, and counter-cultural than any of the others that we looked at. But the interesting thing about this part of the prayer is that it isn’t found in our reading of the text this morning. This part however does show up in later manuscripts and is wholly consistent with how many Jewish people would close their prayers during Jesus day and before. In fact this part of the prayer might be a rewording of 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 which says, “ David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
So while we don’t read it in our text this morning, we normally close the Lord’s Prayer with these words, “for yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” This closing affirmation isn’t about us, about our ministry accomplishments or our spiritual maturity. It is about HIS Kingdom, HIS Power, and above all else HIS glory. So we come full circle. The Lord’s Prayer begins and ends with God’s goodness and greatness, affirming the centrality of his Kingdom, and his will over all things.
Now the ending of the prayer, as I mentioned, is as radical and counter cultural as all the other words. But I also believe this part of the prayer is very very subversive and would have been seen that way to Jesus’ hearers. You see Declaring God’s Kingdom, power and glory was a direct affront to the Roman emperor. The language of Kingdom, power, and glory were to be used for the self-proclaimed god-King of the empire. This part of the prayer is not only a declaration of devotion to God, but a subversive rejection of authority of this world. We are to denounce the authority of the empires of the world that demand our allegiance, whether that be individualism, materialism, nationalism, or something else. But we aren’t to be subversive just for the sake of being subversive. Not, our subversion of the empire is a by-product of our obediently following Jesus as the one and only Lord and King, to whom we swear our absolute allegiance.
Now the amazing thing about this declaration that we say at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, that it is about God’s Kingdom, His power, and His glory is in relation to the words Kingdom, power, and glory and how one (one person, one nation, etc..) would go about having a Kingdom, the power, and the glory. You see, in Jesus day, and our day as well (even though we really don’t have Kingdom’s per se) one obtains these things normally through violence, top down power, and threats of more punishment. But Jesus however took another route when it came to Kingdom, power and glory, the path not won through violence, pain, and power (or at least not to others, but having it done to him). Think about it. The Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome, was not brought about by peace and love and justice. No, the Pax Romana was a peace made possible by the cross: people so feared crucifixion that they would think long and hard before rising up against the emperor. So the Kingdom (or empire), the power, and the glory for the Roman Empire came through doling out violence, especially using the cross. The Pax Christi (the peace of Christ), the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, came not through the peace of conquest but of true reconciliation. The King achieves peace not by shedding the blood of rebels, but by- and I hope you hear the scandal and wonder of this in the midst of familiar words- shedding his own blood. Jesus Kingdom, power and glory came through the cross. The Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:12-15 puts it this way, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The cross, an instrument of torture, pain, and death became an instrument of peace, reconciliation, defeat and life. Not only did the cross bring about forgiveness of our sins- “canceled the charge of legal indebtness” (sounds connected to the Lord’s prayer- Forgive us our debts….) but also brought about the defeat of sin, death and evil and has brought forth the Kingdom. What seemed like the biggest, most crushing defeat in the world became the biggest, most astonishing win in the world. Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities, not by physically resorting to the same violence that they had inflicted upon him, not by buying into the myth of redemptive violence, but by triumphing over them by their own instrument of violence and death. Talk about a reversal of fortune.
You see the rulers and authorities of Rome and Israel, the best government and the highest religion of the world of that time had ever known- conspired to place Jesus on the cross. These powers, angry at his challenge to their sovereignty, stripped him naked, held him up to public contempt and celebrated a triumph over him. In one of his most dramatic statements of the paradox of the cross, and one moreover which shows what physical detail could envisage the horrible death Jesus had died, he declares that on the contrary, on the cross God was stripping them naked, was holding them to public contempt, and leading them in his own triumphal procession- in Christ, the crucified Messiah.
Our world tells us that if you want to build your Kingdom, be powerful, and have all the glory that you need to put yourself first, step on the back of others to get up in the world, when someone slaps you in the face, you hit them back, that you need money because money=power, that it is all about you. Jesus, and his upside down Kingdom, as we have been learning over the last six weeks tells us that it is about God the Father, His Kingdom (on earth as it is in heaven), about his provisions for us (and not trying to do it ourselves), about forgiveness and not grudges, about not giving into temptation, and most of all, that the Kingdom is primary not about ourselves, our ideas, our power, our glory. Most of all the life of a discipleship of Jesus, means that the Kingdom, the power and the glory is all about Jesus. And that the Kingdom, the power and the glory came through the upside down way of the cross.
But what does all this talk about Kingdom, power, glory and the upside down way of the cross, have to do with each of us gathered here today? What does it say to our community about how we do life and engage in our world around us? These are the very things that we are going to take time to discuss together.
1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, etc... do you have regarding the Scriptures and the message? 2. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what are we going to do about it? 3. What take away are you taking away from our 6 week series on the Lord's Prayer?