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Luke 17:20-17:37
Key Verse: 17:30

In the previous lesson we learned that thanks-giving people are rare. So we pray that we may be found among those who give thanks to God, especially for the wornderful grace of Jesus, who loved us and gave himself for us, shedding his blood for the cleansing of our souls. In today’s passage Jesus talks both about the invisible kingdom of God that is within us, and the visible consummation of the kingdom of God through his second coming. People in our time wonder, saying, “Where is the kingdom of God?” “Where is the world going?”, and “What will happen in the future, and how will people live?” The words of Jesus in this passage give clear answers to all these questions. Especially, he vividly shows how people will live on the day the Son of Man is revealed and how his disciples should live. May we heed his words and take them in our hearts.

First, the kingdom of God is within you (20-22). Look at verse 20. “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come…” The Pharisees considered themselves as elites, chosen people of God. They wanted to renovate their nation. But as time passed by, they became political and worldly. They longed for the Messianic kingdom, where God’s rule would become real in this world. However, their concept of God’s kingdom was earthblound. They expected for a kingdom that would rise above all nations, particularly over the Roman Empire. They asked repeatedly when the kingdom of God would come. this can be a longing and question of all people of the world in time past and present. How wonderful it will be for all the evil powers are gone and a perfect government is establised! It seems that people have to carefully observe, be on the lookout for when such a perfect kingdom will come. But how did Jesus answer? He replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Here we see the Pharises’ problem. They did not know that the kingdom of God had come into this world. More precisely, they saw it but they rejected it. On one occasion, Jesus drove out a demon that was mute from a man. Then the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But the Pharisees denied this work of God, saying, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons” (Lk 11:15). Then Jesus explained that Satan would not do such a stupid thing, letting his kingdom be divided against itself. Finally he said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Lk 11:20). It is true that through the coming of Jesus the kingdom of God has come. That the kingdom of God has come means the kingdom of Satan has gone. Before his coming all people were in the strong grip of Satan. But Jesus, stronger than Satan, came and began to rescue people one by one. He particularly did so by preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. So from the outset of his earthly messianic ministry, Jesus said, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15). Time after time, he spoke the words of God, for the word of God is the seed of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God came in the hearts of those who repented hearing his words and believed in Jesus. In the previous passage, a Samaritan leper came back after being healed of his leprosy and threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him, praising God. Surely, what he did was the expression of his sincere repentance and personal faith in Jesus. We believe that the kingdom of God came into his heart, but not in the other nine who went on their own way after being healed. And we know that when Jesus was dying on the cross, a criminal who was also hanging on a cross repented and was welcomed into the kingdom of God. And after his resurrection, Jesus said, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Lk 24:47). It was so that the kingdom of God would come into each person’s heart in all nations.

Also, repentance is a way to keep the kingdom of God in our hearts. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not the matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, and peace and joy in the kingdom of God.” What a grace it is that once the kingdom of Satan occupied our hearts, but now the kingdom of God has come to us! We have peace and joy through the right relationship with God in Chirst Jesus our Lord who reconciled us to God through his death on the cross. So above all, we should to keep the kingdom of God in our hearts. For our enemy the devil seeks every opportunity to destroy the kingdom of God in our hearts. According to Jesus in Luke 11:24-27, when an evil spirit comes out of a man, it can come back with even seven other spirits to the man and the person’s condition can be worse than before. This is the reason we need keep the kingdom of God in our heart through continuous repentance and faith in Jesus, hearing the words of God at each time. And when the kingdom of God is in the heart of each of his people, the kingdom of God is obviously among his people, in their midst.

Second, what the day the Son of Man is revealed is like (23-37). Look at verses 22-24. “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. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 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.” Now the Pharisees were out of the picture. At this point Jesus wanted to share this message exclusively with his disciples, to whom the kingdom of God came. Soon Jesus would depart his disciples and go into heaven. They, however, would remain in this world, but were given the promise of his return, which would complete the establishment the Messianic kingdom, the kingdom of God. They would long to see such days, the days of the the Son of Man, but would not see in their life time. There would be many speculations and deceptions, telling, ‘There he is!’ or “Here he is.’ But the disciples should not be deceived and go running off after them. For the coming of the Son of the Man is to be a universal event, visible to all people of the earth, and spontaneously. It will be as lightning which, flashing suddenly and brilliantly, lights up the entire sky, from one end to the other. This is also written in Matthew 24:27, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” What a unique, unexpected and uncommon day! According to the Bible, it will the day of the culmination of human history. His coming will be as obvious as the lightning. What a glorious and fascinating day it will be!

Certain days are very important personally and/or nation-wise. Germans cannot forget the day of the fall of the Berlin wall, November 9, 1989, when East and West Germony were unified. Koreans long for the day of unification amid the constant military threat of North Korea. As for Canadians there is Canaday Day, July 1 and as for Americans there is Indepence Day, July 4. And Christians celebrate the day of Christ’s birth, Christmas. August 21, 2000 was the day Chritopher was born and I heard that his birthday was celebrated in HBF camp last week. We all have the concept of days. In the same way there will a certain sure day when Christ will return to this earth and it will be like lightning, evident and visible to all. Revelation 1;7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierce him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” It will be the day of global grief to all the peoples of the earth. At the same time it will the day of great joy and victory to the people of the kingdom of God, for it will be the day of complete redemption. For them, it will be a day for them to stand up and lift up their heads (Lk 21:28), not in arrogance, but in true pride in Jesus’ grace .

Then Jesus seems to abruptly change flow, saying in verse 25, “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” Why did Jesus say this? Most probably, Jesus did not want his disciples to live in fantasizing and daydreaming of his coming again in glory and power. He wanted them to be realistic and responsive to what God was doing at that time. Chrsit’s suffering and rejection was the very topic they did not want to hear about. But Jesus spoke it again, whether they would accept it or not, because they had to know and prepare for it. Christ’s suffering and rejection, and then his death on the cross would be the necessary process for his resurrection and ascenscion and for his glorious return. The Pharisees’ great mistake was that they wanted just the glorious and conquering Messiah, and not suffering and rejected Messiah. Jesus did not want his disciples to be mistaken in the same way. There are many believers who want glory and ease and prosperity and success in the world, and are indifferent from the suffering Messiah. They are gradually going farther and farther from Christ the Lord and become secular. No one wants suffering and rejection; everyone wants to be accepted and honoured and praised and prosperous in the wold. But we should watch out for this trend. Through our discipleship workshop we could remember the words which Jesus spoke to his disciples right after revealing the way of the Messiah’s suffering and death, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take his cross daily and follow me.” We believe that this is not only the ABC of disciples’ lives, but also the XYZ.

On August 5, M. Caleb Kim of Latvia, after several days of hard work, went to Jurmala beach with his family. But he drowned due to a heart attack while he had been trying to get the floating tube his daughter had been playing with. He went to heaven, leaving his wife Esther and his one and only daughter, Esther Jr, behind It was unexpected and heart-breaking news to all who heard, particularly to those who knew him. A question arises, “Why did such a thing happen?” “How could his wife and daughter bear such a traumatic event, which they had never expected? No one can give the full answer. But to my surprise, M. Esther wrote in an email that she thanked God for giving her the hope of the kingdom of God through her husband going into heaven and granting her faith in her true husband, Jesus. I was moved by her beautiful confession. And she decided to remain in the mission land, This was for her to take the cross, her grief and mission, very personally. Although God’s way of leading for each disciple is different, he wants us to go through the way of self-denial and cross-taking personally even through unexpected events and hardships in life. It is because this is the way of living for those who await our Lord Jesus’ coming again.

Look at verses 26-30. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” Here Jesus told his disciples about how people of the world would live on the day of the coming of the Son of Man. This is truly amazing and shows who Jesus is. He knew when and how he would die, and when he would rise again from the dead. He also knew he would ascend into heaven and would come back to this world. On top of that he knew exactly how people would live at his coming, even more than 2000 years later. He is truly the Sovereign Ruler of history. So in Revelation it is written again and again, “I am the Apha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 1:8,17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13).

In Noah’s time, people’s eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage was not necessarily bad. Such activities could be a joyful part of human life. Noah also ate and married. But the problem was that the people in Noah’s time were so engrossed in such things that they ignored God’s message of judgment through Noah. They had no God in their hearts. They became godless, having only human fellowship. Their lives becam wild, until corruption and violence filled the earth. It was like they were having a wild party on the Titanic, a sinking ship. Noah must have warned them that rain soon be poured out for forty days and nights, but still, they did not take this warning of flood judgment. Probably, they looked at one another and thought that they would be okay. They did so until the very day Noah entered the ark. Then flood came and destroyed them all. As for Noah, the author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family” (Heb 11:7). Jesus said that it was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. While people were living a seemingly normal life, the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Again these activities were unavoidable in life. But they engaged in ordinary affairs of life without God. Thus, as the book of Genesis attests, they they were degraded to animal level, and were sexually perverse. In such lives they could not take the warning of God’s impending judgment at all.

Then Jesus said, “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” What a shocking and vivid prediction! No one can predict this, but Jesus, the Sovereign Ruler of history. In verses 26-30, we see the words, “just as”, “in the same way” and “just like.” It will be the greatest and most awesome day in all of history because of the coming of Jesus the Son of God. Yet, according to Jesus, on that day, people will just be living day to day life, eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, doing various kinds of business to improve and enjoy their lives in this world alone. Jesus spoke the historical examples so that the people in the generations to come might be warned and prepared to escape the global destruction of the world, overcoming the universal indifference and complacency.

Look at verses 31-32. “On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!” At the time of Jerusalem temple’s fall, those who paid attention to this instruction would survive, while those who ignored it were destroyed. At the present, in light of these words of Jesus we should overcome the attachment to the things of the world. Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife!” Lot’s wife was so attached to the earthly things that she looked back while enroute to escaping judgment, and became a pillar of salt (Ge 19:26). His disciples’ lifestyle is to be different from that of the people of the world. Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:17-19, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on eathly things.” As for Christians, there is a life pattern given to them. Paul confidently said, “Join with others in following my example.” And he said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” In short, the Christian life pattern is to follow Christ, who denied himself and obeyed the will of God to the point of death. As we considered earlier, it is the way of self-denail and cross-taking in very personal obedience to the will of God. The people of the world do not need to deny themselves. They live according to their feelings and human standard and own effort to satisfy their stomach and carnal desires and desires for people’s recognition and honour. Their life is self-loving and self-saving. They do so because they have no true hope, only earthbound hope. But our citizenship is in heaven. God wants us in this hope to love our Lord Christ Jesus and his cross, and feed God’s flock of sheep faithlly. This seems to be a losing life, but it is not. Jesus said, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” His disciples are to learn this kind of pattern of life from the beginning.

Look at verses 34 and 35. “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” What an another shocking and sad story! But we believe that our Lord Jesus tells the truth. Human closeness can be eternally separatedin a single moment. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 true believers are to be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

At this the disciples asked, “Where, Lord?” Jesus replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather” (cf. Mt 24:28; Prov 30:17). This can simply mean that it will happen when the necessary conditions are fulled. Another possible meaning is that where the spiritually dead are found, there, inevitably, will be judgment. In light of this we are to be spiritually alive.

Thank God for the kingdom of God, which is within us. Thank him for the words of our Lord Jesus concerning his coming again and how the people of the world will live at his coming. In view of our Lord Jesus’ glorious sudden coming may we keep the kingdom of God in our heart and our lives be patterned into following the example of Christ, who suffered much unto death on the cross for us. May we keep such a pattern of life as his disciples, even while the people of the world live just day to day life.

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