Every Day Our Father Has What it Takes
We conclude the Lord's Prayer saying, "For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever." All we pray for is fenced in by the praise of the Father, His kingdom, power and glory. This is the only right way to pray because the one who prays this way isn't praying under the pressure of the moment with a short-sightedness brought on by distress. The one who prays seeing the Father's kingdom, power, and glory prays in the light of eternity. And that light bids us in time to pray all the more. We don't because we don't see the kingdom, the power, or the glory of our heavenly Father. We're mired in the here and now.
Does the kingdom really belong to God? Isn't who owns the kingdom up in the air? Maybe fate, chance, or luck do. Maybe the best minds of men do, or the assured results of scientific research. I can't abandon myself to prayer, put all my eggs in my Father's basket, when there are many kings competing for the kingdom. The only kingdom I see Him having absolute control over is the little one that is here. He seems to have little influence and no control over anything outside these walls.
We'd be fervent in prayer if we really believed our Father had the power, not just some, or much, but all that is power. But we don't. I know we don't because of how we pray. We don't pray according to our Father's power but far, far short of it. We pray according to our weakness. We pray according to what we think God can or will do. That is, we pray according to our poverty not His richness.
Perhaps above all else, what keeps us from prayer is the matter of glory. We don't want the glory to be His alone. We want some too. So we strain, we struggle to add our personal touch to handling our problems. O the Lord can help. He can even do most of the work, and He can even have most of the glory, but we want some too.
We don't believe the kingdom, the power, and the glory belong only to our heavenly Father, so we don't pray daily. We worry daily. We fret daily. We plan daily. We work daily. We pray once a week in church, in dire need, or as a last resort. Prayer is not the rule, not the ebb and flow, not the versicle and response of the liturgy of our daily life; it's the exception.
Jesus believed the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever belonged to His Father, and so as we sung tonight He went uncomplaining forth. He went forth to face the Devil who claimed the kingdom was his and had proof that it was. There was no one on earth who was not a sinner. God was holy. You would expect His kingdom to be holy. Since all the world was fallen, a fallen Devil is the logical king of the kingdom.
There was no member of this kingdom on earth who was not utterly sinful, fallen, ruineduntil Jesus was born of a woman. True God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, He was born of the Virgin Mary in time. Here was a pure, holy, undefiled man. Here was a member of God's kingdom who actually kept God's laws in what He did, in what He said, and even in what He thought. And as God saw all men fall in Adam's sin, so He saw all men keep the Law in Jesus' obedience.
But there was a problem. How could the power belong to the Father when He didn't use it? People broke His Laws; they flaunted them; they ignored them, and what did the He do about it? He didn't make anyone pay for their sins. Even the Bible admits this. Romans 4 says "in His divine forbearance God passed over former sins." You are misreading your Bibles if you think in the Flood, Tower of Babel, or at Sodom and Gomorrah God made anyone pay for their sins. Nope, Romans 4 says God passed over them. As if He were some indulgent grandparent, God passed right over all the immoral, perverse, unbelieving sins.
God appeared powerless in the face of such utter wickedness until..the Lamb of God went uncomplaining forth on this night. What was special about this night? Like we sang in the hymn, Jesus went forth the guilt of all men bearing. Tonight, 4,000 plus years of God's pent up wrath would be unleashed. Tonight, God's wrath against all the sins yet to be, yours, mine, everyone's, would be poured out. God would show His power tonight. He would so powerfully press the innocent yet guilty Jesus that blood would pop out of His pores. He would be so powerfully mad at Jesus for our sakes that the Holy Son of God could hardly bear it and would beg and cry for another way to save us.
What did Jesus pray just days before this night, do you remember? He prayed, "Glorify your name." And do you remember what the Father answered from heaven? Although unbelief thought it had thundered, faith heard the Father say, "I have and will glorify it." And He did by sending Jesus to the cross burdened with our sin and guilt. People think the glory of God is that He's a blinding light, a consuming fire. He is. But the glory of the God who has revealed Himself as Father, as love, and as long suffering is that He forgives sinners, saves sinners. So Jesus under our sins, suffering and dying with and for them glorifies the Father. By redeeming the creation that the Father had created for His glory, Jesus restores that glory.
And now Jesus brings the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father to us enabling and encouraging us to pray. How does Jesus do this? By giving us the kingdoms of the world? By giving us the power of the world? By giving us the glory that all the world can recognize? No, by giving us the Sacrament of the Altar.
Novelist Graham Greene has a book entitled The Power and the Glory. It's about a priest in Mexico during that government's persecution of the church in the mid-1920's. He travels the back roads of Mexico to little hovels carrying a black box. The people flock to him because all the power and the glory of God are in that box because that box is a Communion kit for celebrating the Sacrament of the Altar. By means of what's in that box God comes to them. Yes, here in the Sacrament instituted for us tonight we have the kingdom, the power, and the glory of God concealed, yet revealed.
The kingdom of God is where Jesus is. With His physical arrival in this world Jesus announced, "The kingdom of God is here." In this Sacrament Jesus is present with His Church to the end of the age as He promised He would be. At this Sacrament gathers not just the Church on earth but that of heaven complete with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.
The greatest power of God is that which only God can do. The greatest power of God is not lightening strikes, earthquakes, or even miracles. Satan and antichrists can do signs, wonders, and miracles. But God alone can forgive sins. God alone can give life to the dead. God alone can give salvation to the lost. God does all of these things in the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood. Sins that stain the soul so badly we think they can never be removed, are. The death we feel, see, and taste creeping through our flesh and blood cannot devour the new life that is in the Flesh and Blood of Jesus that we eat and drink. And though we at times feel we are lost, unredeemed, unreachable, the Flesh and Blood hand of Jesus reaches out from this Sacrament to snatch us from the jaws of Satan.
Here too is the glory of God. Proverbs 25 says the glory of God is to conceal a matter. What bigger concealment happens anywhere on earth or heaven than in this Sacrament? Under Bread and Wine that all the world can see, what are we told is really here? The Body and Blood of Jesus. The kingdom of God is here. The power of God for sinners is here. All the glory of God is here.
We regard these wonders lightly because we have them every week. Don't you know what some people would give, would pay, would sacrifice to have the power of the forgiveness of sins, to know that when they die they are going to heaven, to be assured that their aged, sick, dying bodies are going to live forever? All of this is here concealed in the forms of Bread and Wine. All of this power is here to be revealed by eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus in faith. All the glory of God is here.
Perhaps the biggest concealment here is that of saints in sinners. We don't look any different than others. The mouths with which we eat and drink the Body and Blood of our God are not holier than others. The hands that touch the Body of our God are not cleaner. The eyes that see Him in the Bread and in the Wine are not purer. Yet, as the Orthodox Church still says today, the holy things of the Body and Blood of Jesus are only for the holy ones, and we dare eat and drink them. Though our sins are as scarlet, in Jesus God sees them white as snow. Though we remain sinners till we die, in Jesus God sees us as holy saints to whom these holy things belong.
Having the kingdom, the power, and the glory of God in this Sacrament, moves and enables us to pray daily, "For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory." We will never learn how big His kingdom, how vast His power, or how wonderful His glory unless we constantly make demands upon His kingdom, power and glory. Only by making demands on them in faithful prayer will we learn that we can never, ever reach the bottom of His kingdom, power, or glory.
Remember the few loaves of bread and couple of fish? They didn't look like they could feed thousands. Only as the disciples kept going back for more did they see there was more than enough. So with this Sacrament, as long as there is Bread and Wine on earth we can have Jesus' Body and Blood to eat and drink and so receive the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Having the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father in the Body and Blood of the Son on earth opens our mouths in prayer to our Father who is in heaven. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Maundy Thursday (20060413); Lord's Prayer Conclusion