Thy Kingdom Come (Luke 17:20-37)

In our text from the Bible today we have a question about when the kingdom of God would come.  In Jesus’ answer, He not only talks about when, but where, how, and why.  Let us look together and Jesus’ answer and may it help us “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33).

When and Where?

In verses 20-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.

When? We Cannot Know.  In verse 20, Jesus tells them that “the kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed.”  Let us take note that Jesus is not saying that the kingdom of God will be unnoticeable or lacking signs of its coming.  Remember, Jesus told John the Baptist about the signs of the kingdom such as “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22).  So if there are signs of the coming of the kingdom of God, why does Jesus tell the Pharisees that it is not coming in ways that can be observed?  The simple answer is that the kingdom of God has already come through the person of Jesus and the Pharisees cannot see it because they are not looking in faith.  Jesus’ answer is similar to saying, “You wouldn’t see the kingdom of God even if the king was staring you in the face.”  Another aspect of this verse is that we cannot know when Jesus will return, therefore we must work faithfully work and patiently wait.

Where? In the Midst of You.  Jesus, in verse 21, turned the attention away from when the kingdom would come (it already came and they missed it) and directed them to where the kingdom is currently.  Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  Jesus is not saying that the kingdom of God is in them (the Pharisees) because they are unbelievers.  This is Jesus’ way of telling the Pharisees that the kingdom has already come and the King is in their midst speaking to them right now.  The problem with the Pharisees was that they were looking for the kingdom of God to come with a bold warrior who would enter Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman army and restore the kingdom to Israel.  The true kingdom of God came with a bold warrior entering our world in Bethlehem and coming to Jerusalem to overthrow Satan.  The Pharisees wanted physical salvation from the Romans, but Jesus came the first time to bring spiritual salvation from sin.

How and Why

In verses 20 and 21, Jesus answered the question from the Pharisees by basically saying: “You want to know when the kingdom of God is coming?  It has already come and you can’t see it.  In fact, the King is speaking to you right now.”  In verses 22-37, Jesus begins explaining His answer more fully to His disciples.  In these verses we learn about the “Days of the Son of Man[1]”.  Specifically, that He shall be:

Rejected: The Crucifixion of Jesus (vs. 22-25). In verse 22 Jesus foreshadows a day when “you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.”  There is coming a day when Jesus will “first suffer many thing and be rejected by this generation.”  Jesus was rejected by the Jews, crucified, and buried.  But we rejoice that He rose from the grave on the third day and has ascended into heaven.

Revealed: The Coming of Jesus. (vs. 26-30; 34-37) Jesus ascended into heaven and will one day be “revealed from heaven” (1 Thess. 1:7) to “repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted” (1 Thess 1:6-7).  Jesus likens His Second Coming to “the days of Noah” (26) and “the days of Lot” (28) because those who are His followers will be saved and those who are unbelievers will be destroyed suddenly.  In Noah’s day they were carrying on daily activities “when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (27).  In Lot’s day they were carrying on daily activities “when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all” (29).  Then Jesus gives this ominous warning, “so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (30).

Restored: The Consummation of Jesus. (vs. 31-33)  In verses 31-33 Jesus speaks to His followers and tells them that there is no need to be concerned with their worldly goods when He returns.  (What a wonderful thought!).  For example, Jesus says “let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away.”   He continues: “and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back” (31)  The reason for the lack of concern for their stuff is because Jesus is returning to “make all things new” (Rev 21:5).  Jesus will bring everything to a satisfying conclusion for those who follow Him.  Everything will be restored and we rejoice that “the sufferings of this present time not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed” (Rom 8:18).

Conclusion

What about you?  Are you already in the kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ?  Are you eagerly awaiting His return?  Do you long for Jesus to make all things new?  Or are you busy with the things of this world that you have little time for Jesus?  Seek the Lord will He may be found, because one day may be too late.

[1] The Son of Man is a title Jesus regularly used of Himself.