Luke 17:20-37 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Kingdom of God

All right, lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Jesus, as he has been teaching over the course of the last number of chapters, has been talking a lot about the future, about salvation, about making sure that our soul is right. He has been talking a lot about our eternal destination.

Now, this got people thinking, which was a part of Jesus intent. We can all here Jim saying, AMEN! And of course, everyone had their own preconceived notions regarding these things. They had their thoughts about how the things that Jesus was talking about would manifest, how it would all play out. They all had their own view on what it would look like.

The kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, used interchangeably throughout the scriptures, is one of the most mentioned subjects that Jesus talks about.  Many commentators and theologians will start with a basic definition of what the Kingdom of God is. Simply put, they say Gods Kingdom is Gods People, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Let’s pick up from there reading this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 20-37. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read from your preferred translation. The key is to read for yourself what the Word of God says instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes chapter 17, 20-37:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

When we look out at the world and we see tragic events happen, personally, locally, nationally, globally, we cry out. And so often, as Christians, our cry out when we see these things is “LORD, come quickly!”

Because we know that he is going to come back. We know that he is going to make all things right and all things new. We know what John saw and wrote down in Revelation 21:3 & 4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

We know that ultimately, the bad things will go away, and God will make this world perfect and sinless, without pain and death and tragedy. But until that time, we are called to live holy and fruitful lives here in Earth, as strangers and aliens, as Ambassadors, as those looking forward to what will be coming, without ignoring what we have and are called to right here and now.

And we all have our ideas on what the end will look like and even what it will look like as it gets closer. Many of us have very specific ideas of what will take place and whit it will look like. And the Pharisees did too.

They in particular had a very specific vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, and more specifically what the promised Messiah would accomplish.

They knew all the prophecies and the promises of God about what the Messiah would do and who he would be. And they did what we all do as well. They looked at those prophecies and scriptures through the lens of their culture, their society and their times.

Because of the Roman occupation of Israel and before that, Greek military might, the Babylonians, the Persians, The Meads, the Assyrians and so forth, they were looking for the Messiah to be a mighty military leader who would lead the Jews out of oppression and occupation and overthrow the ones who were ruling over them and Make Israel Great Again.

The Kingdom in their mind would be an earthly Kingdom, with an earthly messiah sitting on an earthly throne, a literal return to David sitting on the throne of Israel, though with some disagreement on whether it would literally be David or not.

And so, Jesus was talking and teaching about this eternal Kingdom. Right from the very beginning of his ministry. The first words of his ministry that we have recorded in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[e] repent and believe in the gospel.”

          And this kingdom that Jesus was talking about didn’t sound like what they were envisioning. IT didn’t sound like what they were expecting. For once, it seems they weren’t trying to trick Jesus. Like us, they were confused, curious and oh so impatient.

Again, this is like we tend to do today as well. We look at the prophecies of the Bible, we look at the scriptures. We see the words of Jesus and we mostly subconsciously decide that the words must have been said with our specific locality or country in our specific time in mind. In our case, Jesus was speaking directly about The United States in the 20th and 21st Century. And so, we put Russia into prophecies that have nothing to do with them. WE read America into the Bible when there is no mention of it anywhere. We decide that, after 2000 years of people thinking the same thing of their own time, now is the time that Jesus is going to come back.

And I want to be clear. This is something, when we disagree that we can discuss and even challenge each other on. But this is in no way a subject to divide over. These are not viewpoints to get angry about. Most of us, despite us having different views of the end times, can all point to scripture to back up what we think and what we expect.

 

Now, Jesus is going to show, coming up in a moment that there are some things to disagree and stand firm on. There are things to separate over. But our interpretation of when the end will come and what it will look like is not one of them.

So, the Pharisees are curious, confused and impatient and so they ask Jesus, “Ok, so this kingdom of God you are talking about, when is it going to arrive? We don’t see it…”

They are looking for miraculous and spectacular signs. They are looking for the things that will point the way of the kingdoms coming so that they can be sure that they don’t miss it. They want to observe it. They want to be a part of it.

 

Jesus says, nope.

Jesus says you are not able to observe the Kingdom coming and he shows a couple of reasons. For one, they won’t see it coming because its already here. Jesus coming the first time brought the kingdom of God with him and it was now there on earth. Second, he says, that he is standing right in front of them, and they don’t recognize him. He is the manifestation of the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that the kingdom in not a real, literal, physical place as well. But Jesus presence is what shows us the kingdom. The pharisees especially were looking, desperately seeking this kingdom, and it was right in front of them the entire time.

With Jesus and his arrival, the Kingdom has arrived on Earth. It has started its infiltration. At the birth of Jesus, at the incarnation of God, God became man, the Word became Flesh, and the manifestation of the Kingdom began.

Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is in your midst. It is within you. It is among you. All those depending on your translation. And it is here among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Many will say that this text is saying that the Kingdom is here in our hearts, that Jesus lives in our hearts so that the Kingdom comes from within us. But at best, that’s just a partial answer. Jesus is not just alive in our hearts. If that’s all then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope and we are to be pitied.  But Jesus is physically alive as well. And so, the Kingdom is real, and it is here. And it is among us, within us, in the midst of us in two ways. Jesus right here with us, Gad made man. Second, the Kingdom is shown and is made evident by the change in peoples lives who become citizens of the Kingdom.

Paul writes in Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Its not an accident that Paul is referring to the fruit of the Spirit that he writes in Galatians 5. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, you are actively living in it, or you are not.

The church is supposed to be a representation of the Kingdom. We as Christians are ambassadors for the Kingdom. And we have a different kingdom than most. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet.

It is already in how we just looked at it. Its already started its infiltration. It is manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. IT is here and is shown by how we live and the change in our lives. Jesus already taught, back in Luke 13: 18-21 that the Kingdom is like yeast spread through dough, eventually causing the whole loaf to rise. And so, the Kingdom is here, and spreads throughout the whole predestined, elect people of God, through the whole of world history until one day, the whole, full kingdom of Heaven rises, or comes down as it were.

 

And after Jesus answered the Pharisees, he turned to the disciples. He tells them that there will be a day that they long for the day that Jesus has already come back and that He is with them again. He tells them, your desire to see me and your inability to see me will leave you susceptible to people who will claim that Jesus has already returned.

One study note I read, says that it is good and natural that Christians long for the coming of Christ and for the peace and justice that the Second Coming will bring.

The problem, Jesus says here, is that there are many who will try to take advantage of that desire. Here he is! There He is! People claiming to now, claiming to have seen, claiming to be in some cases, the returning Jesus Christ.

One commentator rightly notes that rumors and speculation will only lead us away from the truth. Jesus affirms this as he tells us, when we see these people, Mark and Avoid them! Do not follow them! They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are being destructively deceptive, whether they realize it or not. They are false teachers and false prophets, and we are to remove ourselves from their influence.

Jesus shows in verse 24 that there will be no secret or subtle return. He says, when I come back, EVERYONE will know. His return will be as bright and unmistakable and as sudden as lightning. All will see. Jesus, when he returns, will come back inaugurating, consummating and fully and finally initiating his Kingdom. It will be dramatic and visible to all, and you won’t have to wonder or worry that you have missed it.

 

 

However, …

Before that happens… after verse 24, we see verse 25.

Before we worry about Jesus coming back, he is going to have to leave. First, he must suffer and be rejected. As one commentary notes: “The consummation of the kingdom requires the obligation that Jesus must first die according to Gods plan to redeem a people for himself.”

          In order to manifest his kingdom, he must first have a people for his Kingdom. The unfortunate part is that people will be rejecting him right up until the point of his return. No matter what the warning signs, no matter what the sins of the day. People will reject salvation through Christ until they have no more opportunity. Just like the days of Noah and Lot.

Now, it would be easy to read this and start talking all about how sinful and depraved the society and culture was in the says of Noah or in Sodom and Gomorrah during Lots time. And that would not be factually incorrect, but it would instead have nothing to do with what Jesus is saying here in this text. Jesus does not mention the righteousness of Noah or Lot, nor does he mention the sinfulness of the people or the culture.

What he points out is that in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, while there was great sin occurring, people were going about their normal everyday business. They weren’t worrying about the coming judgment. They had many warnings, many signs, but despite that, the day that judgment came caught everyone by surprise, including Lot and Noah. Believers will be caught by surprise as well at the coming of the LORD.

Just as the Days of Noah and the days of Lot, we are heavily warned, just as they were. Then out of nowhere, the rains came, and the flood came, and it destroyed them all except those who accepted the LORDS salvation on the Ark. Then, out of nowhere, the rain of sulfur and fire and brimstone came and destroyed all of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah except the few who listened to the angels and left and didn’t look back. Then out of nowhere, the Son of Man will return, sudden and unexpected as a thief in the night, but sudden and visible as a streak of lightening.  And all who are not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will be brought to judgment and eternal torment.

Just as it was in the days of Noah. Just as it was in the days of Lot. So, it will be when Jesus comes back. There is, was and will be plenty of warning, but it will still come completely out of nowhere. Today, people know that it is coming, and they ither ignore it and suppress it or they know it’s come and don’t care enough to do anything but live and go about their normal, everyday life.

When Jesus comes, judgment will come. Many will be judged and found guilty. But the righteous, (only through Christ, His righteousness) will be redeemed and restored. All will be burned away and reborn.

We will have a New Heaven, New Earth, New Bodies. Their will be one glorious people. All who trust in Christ and only those who trust in Christ. The church. True Israel. The adopted children of God. Co heirs with Christ. One Glorious People of God. One Glorious Kingdom of God. New Jerusalem. And One Glorious King, God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.  Forever and ever.

 

 

And on that day, that glorious day. That singular, public, every eye will see day that the LORD comes back, when he separates the sheep from the goats. When we stand before him in judgment. When we enter, either eternal judgment and wrath, or eternal glory and worship. On that day…

On that day, some will enter his kingdom, and some will not. The Day of the Lord will not create division. Division in where we are going to go already exists. But the day of the LORD will expose that division. It will bring it to light. Many who expect to be with the LORD will not be. Many whom we expect not to be with the LORD will be.

Just as suffering does not create character but reveals character. Just as children do not create patience with in us, but reveals patience or lack thereof, The Day of the LORD will reveal who the true people of God are.

Even if they think they will be together in eternity, husband and wife wont necessarily both be with the LORD.  Brother and Sister. Parent and Child. Best Friends. None will be both brought to be with the LORD because of their relationship and expectations.

Jesus tells his disciples that they need to remember Lots wife. JC Ryle has a great book on holiness that I’m reading, and he has an entire chapter on Lots wife and why Jesus tells his followers to remember her. What seems to be his biggest point is that her proximity to Lot and his God, her likely proximity to Abraham and his household faithfully and unashamedly worshipping God, her going along for the ride right next to Lot, none of it meant anything because she never had her heart changed by the Holy Spirit. She never committed herself to the LORD. She never let go of her sins and her old beliefs and way of life. She never trusted in Christ for her salvation. And so, her being married to Lot, was not enough to save her. She, undoubtedly, expected to be right there with him in the eternal kingdom, but she was trusting in the wrong things, not letting go and she turned back desiring her old things.

 

Of course, this makes the disciples nervous, and they ask, “Where, LORD?” Where will all this take place? Where should we be looking?

 

Jesus answers, “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” A few translations have Eagles instead. The point is true regardless. Just as dead bodies invite birds of prey and scavengers, so also will the spiritually dead invite judgment.

 

There are a lot of things we can read into this text, and we can pull out. A lot of details about the second coming and the return of Jesus that we can use these texts to affirm, may correctly, probably not though.

Heres what we all need to remember, regardless of our similarities or differences in the details.

 

Jesus had to come the first time and did. Son of God. God himself. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law in the way that we couldn’t. He died for us. He resurrected, rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he will come again.

This must happen in order to redeem his people.

He will return to judge the living and the dead. The redeemed and the condemned.

And he will come back once and for all. Though no one knows when except the father. He will come as a thief in the night, not in secret, but in suddenness and unexpectedness.

He will come back like a flash of lightning. Visible to all. Light chasing darkness. Sudden, unexpected, flashing across the sky.

And that return ill bring with him the full, complete, inaugurated, consummated, eternal, glorious, perfect Kingdom of God. Which brings with it peace, justice, glory, eternal life, worship. The eternal wedding banquet between our King and his bride, the church, made up of all believers of all times. People from all tribes and tongues, but one united, combined one people of God. His redeemed people. His bride.

 

We are to be absorbed with being ready for the return of Christ. The act of Jesus coming back WILL happen. But don’t get absorbed by the timing.

Life on this earth will end. TO dust we shall return. But the end is already written. One theologian reminds us, “We can enter the Kingdom now and live in it forever more by saying yes to the King.”

Focus on what Christ tells us to focus on. Remember what he tells us to remember. Don’t focus on what he doesn’t tell us to focus on.

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

 

Let’s Pray.

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