LUKE 17:20-37 MAY 3, 2015
“THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COMING!”
There have been many times in my life where I have eagerly anticipated a future event. As a child I eagerly awaited every Christmas and summer vacation. As I grew older I eagerly looked forward to graduating from high school, college, and seminary. I was very eager to marry the love of my life and then looked forward to the birth of our children and the major events of their lives. I also looked forward to becoming a grandparent, which is awesome! Now, that I’m growing older I am beginning to long for my eternal home!
Jesus had been teaching about the Kingdom of God announcing its arrival. Luke 4:43 (NIV) “43 But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” The Pharisees wanted an explanation of what Jesus meant when he talked about the kingdom of God. Luke 17:20-21 (NIV) “20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
The Pharisees wanted to know when the kingdom of God was coming. In order to understand the question we need to understand what the Pharisees thought about the arrival of God’s kingdom. The Pharisees believed that the kingdom of God would arrive in a dramatic fashion. They expected something they could physically see. They were expecting an overthrow of the Roman Empire. Jesus tells them they are mistaken. People always being enjoy told that their beliefs are wrong! Right? Jesus told them that they would not be able to observe the arrival of the kingdom. Remember these are the people who carefully observed everyone to see that the Law was being observed. They were always quick to point out when someone was wrong according to their traditions.
The reason no one would be noticing the arrival of the kingdom Jesus says “because the kingdom of God is within you.” The ESV provides a better translation of this verse. “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor well they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Jesus is saying the evidence is standing before you. I have brought the kingdom of God into your midst and you are too blind to see it.
Jesus often told people that the kingdom of God was hidden and often can’t be recognized. Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) “31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” We become a part of the Kingdom of God when we understand that Jesus is God’s Son and the only way into the kingdom is receiving Jesus by faith. The Kingdom of God is an open invitation to come to faith in Jesus Christ; and that invitation is available to anyone who recognizes Jesus is the invitation.
Jesus then turned his attention to his disciples. Luke 17:22-25 (NIV) “22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. “23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” Many Christians are hoping that the return of Christ and the Kingdom is coming soon.
Jesus warns the disciples to not get sidetracked by looking for the arrival of the kingdom. Many Christians have become so enthralled by the end time prophecies that they focus all of their attention in tracking the events. Jesus says it is going to be obvious when the Kingdom arrives. It will be like the lightning that can be seen by everyone as it lights up the skies with its brilliant flash. Jesus told them that first the Messiah was going to suffer many things and be rejected by that generation.
Jesus does provide a sign of his coming. Jesus lists the example of the days of Noah and the time of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. He indicates that on both occasions the people were preoccupied with eating, drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. On both occasions destruction came suddenly and swiftly. In both examples people were ignoring God and were oblivious that destruction was soon to arrive.
Luke 17:32-36 (NIV) “32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” Judgment will come so quickly that no one will have the time to grab anything or even attempt to flee. There will be no time to get things right. The disciples were urged to remember Lot’s wife who took the time to look back. It will not matter at that time, who you are with. It will not matter if all your family believes and you never took the time to make a decision.
The day of Judgment is coming and when it arrives, it will be too late to make a decision to either believe in Christ or decide it’s time to put your faith into practice. 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life (living for Jesus) will preserve it. If we try to hold onto our life and live it according to our desires; we may end up losing our life. But if we lose our life because of our allegiance to Christ then we will preserve it for all eternity.
1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) “15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” It is time for believers to live in this world as if we are resident aliens. Our rightful place is in heaven and we are here only so we can work for our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I think that we may be in the last days. However, it does not matter. We are called to follow Christ. Our marching orders have not changed. We are called to be faithful. Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV) 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The disciples wanted to know the place where the judgment would take place. Luke 17:37 (NIV) 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Jesus gives a graphic and horrifying answer. When you see all the dead bodies and the vultures circling overhead you will know. We must not wait any longer to prepare for the day of Judgment.
Let us pray.