Bread being baked in a cast iron pot.
July 24, 2023

Jesus of the Unexpected Kingdom

A prayer based on Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52, the gospel reading for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost that can be adapted into a prayer of confession, intercession, illumination or application.

Jesus you’ve shown us in your teaching what the kingdom of heaven is like. 

It is a fast-growing bush, 

a spreading yeast, 

and an unexpected but priceless treasure. 

May your kingdom come, 

your will be done, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Sovereign God, your kingdom surrounds us 

and you invite us to be a part of it.  

May we in turn be used to bless others, 

sharing the unimaginable riches of your kingdom

with all we meet. 

May your kingdom come, 

your will be done, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Holy Spirit, work in us

teaching us to prize membership in your kingdom—

a kingdom of forgiveness, mercy, righteousness and justice. 

Show us where we can plant seeds and introduce yeast to grow your kingdom 

so many more may come to receive its riches beyond measure. 

May your kingdom come, 

your will be done, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

In your name we pray, Amen.


The middle chapters of Matthew’s gospel reveal a Jesus who defies expectations: Jesus breaks traditions, spends time with and heals the wrong sort of people, and preaches not rousing sermons of rebellion and nationalism, but obscure parables about a coming Kingdom of mercy and forgiveness. In these chapters the devotion and obedience of his disciples and the desperate need of the crowds is set against a backdrop of resistance from religious leaders, puzzlement from John the Baptist and his followers, and his family’s interfering concern for his mental health. 

The unexpectedness of Jesus’ kingdom ministry in the gospel of Matthew can guide us in our journey of humility with Jesus in our own daily lives and in the lives of our churches. We don’t always know what to expect about God’s kingdom building work, but Matthew instructs us in the essentials that we need to follow this unexpected Jesus wherever he takes us.

Image: © Edsel Little, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Bethany Besteman is the worship coordinator and church administrator at Silver Spring Christian Reformed Church in Maryland where she lives with her husband and son. She also works as the intake editor for Reformed Worship.