Some biblical scholars hold that the kingdom of God is a future reality only and does not have a present manifestation. Yet Jesus, like John the Baptist before him, called upon his hearers to repent and announced that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Was he mistaken? Was it at hand as he claimed or was it to arrive in the distant future?
A clue may be found in the wording of the Lord’s Prayer. When his disciples ask for instructions on how to pray, Jesus answers, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come’” (Luke 11:1-2). Were they to pray expecting God to answer speedily? This seems to be the case. After all, the remainder of the instructions deals with immediate expectations: “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation” (vv 3-4).
It seems they were expecting the prayer to be answered without delay. Hence they were expecting the kingdom of God to arrive likewise.
Only 10 verses later, Luke tells how one of Jesus’ opponents accuses him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, which he denies (Luke 11-14-19). Then he answers, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (v 20).
The context of these two events in the same chapter should settle the issue once for all. Jesus tells the disciples to pray “Your kingdom come” (v 2) and then says a few verses later, “The kingdom has come” (v 20).
The evidence that the kingdom has arrived is found in Jesus’ victory over demons which he accomplishes by God’s power.