February 2, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“This then is how you ought to pray, [begin by saying] ‘Father, our Father, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily portion of bread. Forgive us our debts [sins, trespasses] as we have forgiven those who owe us a great debt [who have sinned or trespassed against us.” And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One.”(Matthew 6.9-13)
Most of us grew up learning that we could add a post script to the letters and messages we penned. The P.S. was a thought which came to us late either because it came late or we had forgotten it earlier. We knew that it was a way of including an expanded thought on an intended word. Sometimes there was even a P.P.S. or post post script for those people who would Energizer Bunny their communicades and “go on and on and on.” Those post scripts were never intended to be just a run on speech. They were important parts of what we had hoped to say but didn’t. In the King James Version of The Lord’s Prayer, we may be offered some version of a spiritual addendum or post script. Most translations from the earliest re-writings of The Gospel of Matthew do not include this post script which declares “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.” In the patterned form of “how to pray,” I called this a Declaration. It is the prayor’s affirmation of God’s infinite and definitive mark of authority on their thought, their provision, their purpose and their existence. It is a statement of belief that the opportunity of asking for spiritual sustenance, forgiveness/accountability and protection is bound by the very promise which God has made to be our God just as we are His people. He has sealed that promised with the blood of the Lamb and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I believe that those two seals are evidenced then in baptism by immersion. That would indicate that they are not the post script and post post script of Jesus’ lesson on “how to pray effectively and live effectively by prayer. They are a way of highlighting the privilege and the priority of dwelling in the midst of God’s Kingdom on earth as we will in Heaven.
All critique aside about the value and validity of the King James Version of biblical interpretation, as mighty ones of God we must seriously practice such declaration in our prayers, our prayer life and our living prayerfully. Such declaration is critical to our understanding of who and whose we are in this world. When Jesus was confronted by Pilate following His trial by the Sanhedrin and teachers of the Law, Pilate said “Will you not speak? Do you not know I have the authority to release you or condemn you?” Jesus replied, “You have power only to do what My Father has ordained [or allowed.]” Pilate, who believed in his Roman thinking that he was a god, must have been perplexed in that challenging declaration of Jesus. Pilate ultimately answered only to Caesar by policy and procedure. That was the trump card which the leaders of the Temple played in getting Pilate to execute Jesus. You see, when Jesus had finished speaking to Pilate, Pilate considered the matter moot. Jesus, by his way of thinking was innocent because He posed no threat to Rome or Caesar. Even when Jesus added, “My kingdom is not of this world,” Pilate summed up the whole situation as a local religious question of Jewish internal affair. But, when the Jewish leadership invoked the threat to report Pilate to Caesar for an inability to rule Judea and keep the peace, Pilate had to make a more personal and professional decision. The question became for him “Whose kingdom do I belong to?” And hear what happened next. He washed his hands of the whole situation and turned it over to “the people” to decide. In light of today’s reflection, let’s say it this way- Pilate referred Jesus back to “His peers” and declared “For you and yours is the kingdom, power and glory forever. Amen.” Their next word would become their declaration of faith as to who God was and what God’s purpose was in bringing Jesus of Nazareth before “all the world.” Well, we know the rest of that story, don’t we? The band of loyalists to the Temple leadership stormed the palace court with their own insurrectionist ideals and cried out “Crucify Him. Crucify Him. Crucify Him.” For those whose word overwhelmed the cries of a few loyal to Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah begging for mercy, Jesus was no more a “child of God” as they themselves were proving to be. Their declaration was tantamount to unrighteousness and blasphemy. Their kingdom was certainly of the world and far from, parenthetically speaking, God. Thank God, their word was not the final word. And the placement of King James’ post script, if you please, is a most certain reminder of that truth. God had the final word. That word we know as Resurrection. In response to the unrighteous’ insurrection came the righteous’ resurrection. On the third day, the tomb was found empty and the witnesses bore testimony to seeing Jesus raised from the dead. And look at what the resurrected Jesus did: broke bread, forgave unbelief and blessed the believers with the anointed protection of the Holy Spirit. He answered effectively beyond measure the three honest petitions which the righteous were taught to pray to their Abba, Father. Now that is a declaration of independence we all need to pray and practice as His disciples and mighty ones of God.
“Father, our Father, hallowed be Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done…ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” We thank You for the provision of Your Word, the true bread of life which came down from Heaven. We are indebted to You for Your choice to forgive us our spiritual debts which have piled up against us, You and others. We know that You have not forgiven us so that we can continue to live in spiritual poverty. Rather, in our decision to follow Christ Jesus we can be made rich to overflowing with faith, hope and love. Fill us up, Lord and restore us to wholeness in Jesus’ name as we forgive others in the manner by which we ourselves have been forgiven by You. Protect us today and all days from the manifestation of evil. We are sorely tempted to act inappropriately and irresponsibly toward those who are the enemy of the Word. Yet, we affirm the command to love even our enemies. We allow You to execute the true justice in and over our lives. We hold ourselves accountable to trust You in all things today and always. For we know that if we do not, then that which is the “kingdom, power and glory forever” will stand as a witness against us instead of standing for us. If God is for us and we for Him then what can stand against us? Nothing, in Jesus’ name. Amen.