The chiastic structure of the Lord’s Prayer:
(A) Our Father
(B) Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
(C) Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
(C’) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
(B’) And lead us not into temptation
(A’) But deliver us from evil
The prayer opens and closes with the ones who vie for our souls: Our Father (A) in heaven, and the evil one (A’) who wants to deny us our heavenly inheritance. We will spend eternity with one or the other. The evil one, the father of lies, out of selfishness and spite tries to verve us off the path to holiness with empty promises and pleasures of the flesh. Our Father desires that all spend eternity with Him, but does not force His desire on us. He honors the choice we freely make. If we ignore His call and separate ourselves from Him, He will honor our choice and will withhold His grace and not call us to dwell with Him. However, if we answer His call and draw near to Him, He will call our name, shower us with grace, and invite us to dwell in His presence, now and forever. We will spend eternity as we live our life.
Our Father is Holy. He created us for holiness (B) and will protect us from the false promises of the evil one (B’). God freely bestows grace and sanctification on us, which we can accept or reject. If we accept and act on His grace and sanctification, we will draw us near, we will grow in His holiness, and He will protect us from the evil one. Christ in His humanity was subjected to the evil one’s temptation, but did not succumb and remained sinless. Christ, however, did suffer the pain imparted by sin. He suffered the pain of death by crucifixion for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Christ calls us to unit ourselves with Him in His suffering to overcome sin, death, and the temptations of the evil one. To achieve the holiness we were created for we must drop all earthly attachments and heed His call “to come follow me.”
God desires that all be citizens of His kingdom (C) and provides all with a way to citizenship (C’) – by forgiving those who have wronged us in sin. Christ showed us how to forgive. He forgave those who crucified Him, and the insurrectionist who hung at His side. We are to trust in Christ’s mercy and show mercy to others. In so doing, we become citizens of His kingdom with Christ as our king. We join in His holiness and dwell in His presence forever. When we fail to trust in Christ’s mercy or fail to show mercy to others, we reject Christ Jesus as our king and are excluded from joining Him in His holiness and from dwelling in His presence.
Christ is at the center of the Lord’s Prayer. Christ is brings God to man and man to God. He is gate through which we pass to dwell in eternal glory in His Kingdom. For more about Christ in the Lord’s Prayer see posting of May 12.