Jesus often used parables to teach his followers about the Kingdom of God. He could have spoken to them more plainly, but he wanted to encourage those who were willing to seek for understanding.
Casual listeners were probably turned off by his approach. These appear in his parable as those who received the seed (his word) along the path. They had no real interest in his message of hope. It was "in one ear and out the other."
Others had hearts that were like the rocky ground. The word of the gospel did not survive because they did not seek for further moisture from the teachings of the Master.
Then there were those who received the word with joy, but they filled their lives with worldly things that choked out the gospel message. These material things were represented by the thorns.
Fortunately, there were some who proved to be good soil for God's word. They heard the word, and they allowed it to root in them. They watered and cultivated their interest in the good news of the Kingdom of God. Those who were good ground for the gospel prospered and brought forth fruit.
Today, it is our turn to be the good ground for the word.
The Disciples asked Jesus: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Prayer is one of our most difficult forms of communication. Attempting to talk to the Creator and Sustainer of the entire Universe requires a great deal of humility. The hardest part however, is not being able to receive a direct answer. Yes, God does answer prayer, in accordance with his will, but we are not always perceptive enough to hear him, and accept his answer.
Our concern for the moment is just one small part of what is universally known as the Lord's prayer. It was this prayer that Jesus offered as a pattern for the disciples to follow. The prayer begins:
Jesus taught them to pray for God's kingdom to come. He made it very clear that there was a specific location for this kingdom. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth".
For the disciples, who were very familiar with the hope of the kingdom, these words were sufficient and appropriate. Unfortunately, today, there are so many ideas and imaginations concerning the Kingdom of God, that even the well known Lord's prayer may need some explanation.
If we want to pray effectively for God's kingdom to come, we must attempt to understand what the disciples knew about that hope. The disciples were Jews. They were the "people of the book". The Old Testament scriptures had been given to them with ample information about God's kingdom.
They were often reminded of their heritage. The Children of Israel were called out from bondage in Egypt 2000 years before Jesus lived and taught. Moses guided them to Mt. Sinai on the first part of their journey to the land that had been promised to Abraham. At Sinai, they were formed into the original Kingdom of God on the earth. They received laws and the Ten Commandments, including many types and shadows that were intended to teach them about the coming of their Messiah (God's anointed).
They understood that this Messiah would be their future king. David, one of the greatest kings of Israel during her former glory, was promised that one of his descendents would be the Messiah, and that he would sit on the throne of the kingdom forever. When Mary was told that she would bear this son of God, she was also informed that he would sit on the "throne of his father David", and "reign over the house of Jacob forever" (Luke 1:32-33).
When the disciples learned to pray for God's kingdom to come on earth, they understood that it would be a restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. After his resurrection, Jesus "showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:3,6-7).
We learn from this exchange that Jesus had with his disciples that they had every reason to believe that Jesus would restore their ancient kingdom. It was this earthly kingdom of Israel that was the pattern for the future Kingdom of God.
All of the Hebrew prophets had spoken of this coming event. Daniel spoke of the end of Gentile rule, saying: "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
He also added: "The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Daniel 7:27).
When we repeat the Lord's prayer, we are expressing the hope that the disciples had. That God would set up his kingdom on the earth, with Jesus as the king and with Jerusalem as the throne of the Lord. Our prayer is: THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.