Welcome/Intro/Good to be back.
New? Studying Luke verse/verse, chap/chap – listening/learning
Find Jesus in chap 17 - few miles outside Jer, large crowd w/ him, on the way to Passover.
- Miracles - something amazing
- Revolutionaries - some Romans dead
- Students - learning/participating
- Pharisees - rule keepers/fact-checkers/law police
- Don’t like Jesus much
- Talks about kingdom - stand to gain a lot
V20 – “So when does this kingdom of God you keep talking about actually show up? When do we get to see it? What will the signs be?”
[Jesus] answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; 21 no one will say, ‘See here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
When Jesus says it’s not observable, he doesn't mean it’s invisible. Ten lepers being healed earlier in this chapter was something quite visible. He just means it’s not coming with the usual observable things that kingdoms usually come with, like conquering armies, flags, political posturing, and so on. There won’t be signs on the highway that say, “Now entering the kingdom of God.” You won’t be able to send a postcard that says, “Hello from our trip to the kingdom of God last summer.”
Romans 14:17 says it like this: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (LMW, 348). So the kingdom is observable, in terms of our ability to see transformation happening in a sinner’s life, but that’s not what the Pharisees were expecting.
No, Jesus says, the kingdom of God is in your midst. Back in Luke 10:9, Jesus told his disciples to proclaim to others, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” and to the Pharisees in Luke 11:20, he said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Evans, 314).
That is to say that Jesus himself is the door into the kingdom, and wherever Jesus is, the kingdom is there (Butler 282). The signposts that the kingdom is near are things Jesus does, like taking authority over demons, raising the dead, and healing people with leprosy. The signposts are when the Spirit brings a selfish heart to life, and transforms them into selfless; when a heart of despair is transformed into a heart of joy and peace.
“There is an internal kingdom, a kingdom “within you” which is the rule and reign of God within the human heart. But there is also an external kingdom, [something we will long for] and not be able to see yet” (LMW, 349).
That’s verse 22. Jesus tells the disciples, the day will come when you will ask the same question as the Pharisees. Lord, when are you going to establish this kingdom in full? You will long for things to be made right. Answer: It probably won’t be when you want it to be.
There are times I’m sure many of you have experienced that longing, where you would just be okay if the Lord returned today. Maybe it’s because things in your own life seem so far out of control, or just so far from what you want them to be, that you’d just like the Lord to just hurry up and return. Or possibly it’s because you look at the suffering around the community or the world, and you just pray that the sooner the better so no more parents have to bury their 4 year olds; no more hurricanes leave vulnerable people homeless; no more pain or cancer or whatever. Or maybe your longing for heaven isn’t because things are awful here, it’s because you enjoy worshiping Jesus so much here on earth, you just can’t wait to be with him in glory, and to thank him face to face without the presence of sin!
Jesus’ words should also bring comfort to us today, no matter which of those resonate with you – You’re not crazy to wish for that. In fact it’s part of his kingdom coming when a person who used to live only for things of this earth now longs for the things of heaven. That longing is a good thing! He sees you. He hears you. He knows your situation, and he knows you want relief from it.
But then he also warns us, that in our pain and sorrow and suffering, and in our frustration with the world not being as it should be, we will be tempted to lean into something more exciting than a call to endurance. We will be tempted to spend time with lesser things because they don’t ask us to “endure” or “wait” or be patient. We will be tempted to run after other things to get some instant satisfaction or relief.
And Jesus’ words also give us a warning in verse 23 They will say to you, ‘See there!’ or ‘See here!’ Don’t follow or run after them. There are deceptions all over the place, and you’ll need wisdom to avoid false saviors.
I think in those days they actually had other people claiming to be the Messiah, developing followings and teaching false doctrines. That’s probably what he means by verse 23. We don’t really have much of that today, where people claim to be Jesus back on earth again, but we have a million false saviors in our face all the time. Every commercial offers you a savior of some kind. Use this product, by this thing, and you’ll be prettier, wealthier, happier, you’ll live longer, etc.
- Some parents have presented to their children that “getting a degree, and then a good job” is the way to a better life.
- Some of you may have viewed marriage as a savior that will solve some deep ache in your heart.
- For others, the savior is entertainment – it relieves the loneliness for a few hours.
- Then of course, there are the false saviors of popularity, recognition, accomplishment, financial security, etc.
None of these things are necessarily evil, but they can all quickly become false saviors that we often turn to when we’re not getting what we want from the True Savior. I’ve heard it 100x. “God is just not showing up for me. He’s silent. Why is God not working? We’re doing all the right things, and yet he is not coming through for us.”
So where do you turn when you don’t get what you want from Jesus? Next Sunday, Jesus addresses that exact sentiment with a few parables.
The internal kingdom (transformation in the heart) is going to cause a longing for the external kingdom so much so that Christians will be tempted to pursue other options. But Jesus warns the disciples to not fall for any of it, and gives a promise and a prophecy.
Here’s the promise: 24 For as the lightning flashes from horizon to horizon and lights up the sky, so the Son of Man will be in his day. The full external expression of the kingdom is going to happen. You could look ahead to verse 30 as well… this is how it will be when the Son of Man is revealed, or when the external kingdom comes. The external kingdom is on the way, Church. Don’t lose heart.
Here’s the prophecy: 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: 27 People went on eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Even if you didn’t grow up in church, you’ve probably heard about Noah and the flood… Noah preached salvation to the people of his day, and every single person rejected the message. Jesus is pointing at that story and saying people were going about their ordinary lives, eating lunch, going to weddings… everything was about as normal and routine as life can be, with no regard for God or his word, and suddenly, without warning, the flood came and brought judgment.
The second story is similar, although probably less familiar. Nearly everyone has heard about Abraham and his faith… well, Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Lot was living in a city filled with unbelievable wickedness, where again everyone had rejected the Lord. In the days of Lot, people were eating meals, selling things, buying things, planting and building… things were about as normal and routine as life can be, with no regard for God or his word – and suddenly, without warning, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and brought judgment.
Then verse 30 says, that’s how it’s going to be when Jesus returns. The warning is that we must get ready NOW, b/c, like the flood and the fire from heaven, when it happens, it’s too late. Anyone who would have just believed the warnings of Noah and Lot would have escaped.
It wasn’t that Noah and Lot were super spiritual people that we should all try to be like. They both had some grisly faults and failures, and some R-rated moments in their stories. “However, they did one thing which others failed to do: they believed God’s Word when God said to prepare for the flood and for the coming judgment... Despite all their shortcomings and failures, all their sensual and loose living, when the Word came to prepare, they believed and they prepared” (LMW, 349), and God made a way of escape for them.
31 On that day, [when the external kingdom arrives] a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to make his life secure, will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Remember Lot’s wife. In the middle of their rescue, Lot’s wife, however, found it tough to say goodbye to that old life. If you don’t know the story, while Lot and his family ran across the plain to get away from the disaster the Lord was bringing, the angels that came to visit warned them – don’t look back and don’t stop. Keep running till you get to the next town.
Lot’s wife was so close to salvation – so close to escaping judgment along with her family – but the things of life, the ordinary, the familiarity, the adventure, the sensuality, the security of her city still had a grip on her heart. She couldn’t fully abandon herself to the instruction of the Lord, she stopped running and looked back. And scripture records that she instantly became a statue of salt. Just that little pause was enough to sweep her up in the destruction that was coming.
I like how the Message translation words verse 33 - if you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it. But if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. Has something of this world still got a hook in your soul? Are you still trying to live life on your terms? Is there something that has captured your attention so much that you are willing to sin to have it or to keep it?
34 I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” Settle this right now: Will you be the one taken to safety to be joined with Christ, or the one left to face judgment? Will you be the one rescued from the wickedness of the world, or the one judged for participating in it even when the escape was provided?
Lastly, verse 37, the disciples are asking, Lord where is all of this going to happen? 37…He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”
Wherever there is spiritual death and corruption, judgment will come. It will come suddenly and quickly. There won’t even be time to go down into the house to grab your wallet – it will be as instant as lightning in the sky, and it will be universal. Not a single human on the planet, from the densest cities to the most remote jungles will escape, and there will be no time to get things right if you haven’t already.
But the vice versa is true too! Wherever people trust Jesus, life will be found! Wherever people have prepared for Christ’s return by securing their lives in the person of Jesus Christ – his body broken for us, his blood poured out for the forgiveness of sin, his resurrection proving that the cross worked, his ascending back to heaven which opens the door for the gift of the Holy Spirit – wherever on earth people have stepped through the door of Jesus Christ into the kingdom of heaven, they will be saved.
Jesus is the doorway into the kingdom, but there is a lock on that door that only his suffering and rejection can open. That’s why he insists, in verse 25, that it is necessary That’s why Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem in the first place. He’s headed there to empty himself. To give up his life, so that ANYONE could enter the kingdom NOW.
We can’t wait until Jesus returns to enter the kingdom – when he shows up, it will be too late. We can and must enter and participate in the kingdom TODAY! We don’t have to wait until Jesus returns to see the benefits of the kingdom. We don’t have to wait until he returns to rest securely, or have peace during trials, or to find direction and purpose in life or say no to sin. We don’t have to wait until Jesus returns to see the bigger picture for our lives. We don’t have to wait for Jesus to return to be filled with power to live out the Christian life.
The kingdom is here, in our midst today. The kingdom of heaven is here in this room, River City. Not because we have figured out how to do church, or have our act together, but because Jesus suffered and died and rose again for sinners, and where two or more are gathered in his name, he promised he would be there!
The marker that you are already in the kingdom is that the Spirit is working in you, calling you to repentance; giving you the power to say NO to sin and YES to God, filling you with boldness and courage and strength to live this out, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 9:51–24:53, vol. 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996)
Trent C. Butler, Luke, vol. 3, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000)
Craig A. Evans, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke, ed. Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, First Edition. (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2003)
Leadership Ministries Worldwide, The Gospel according to Luke, The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996)