Saturday, May 11, 2024

Luke 17.20-37 Always Ready

 Luke 17:20-37 Always Ready

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 17, today we are going to look at verses 20-37 and that’s on page 876 in the pew Bibles.

We are going to look at a pretty challenging passage this morning and it deals with a subject that I get asked about quite often and lots of books have been written about and lots of people have taught all kinds of diverging views on in the world. The subject is The Last Days before the coming of Christ.

People have been trying to nail down when the last days will be and when Jesus will come back since His first coming as we’ll see in our text.

But one important principle that we need to remember as we look at this text this morning is that the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. This thought will be very helpful as we look at this together.

20 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.” 

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. 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.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Let’s pray.

The first two verse of our passage where Jesus is speaking with the Pharisees contributed to the rise of a theological paradigm developed by a theologian named Gerhardus Vos in the early 20th Century called, “Already But Not Yet.”

20 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.” 

The Pharisees who constantly craved signs from Jesus asked Him once again for a sign of the coming of the kingdom of God. These Pharisees certainly did want the kingdom of God to come and be ushered in by Messiah, but they wanted it the way they wanted it. They wanted the kingdom restored to Israel, they wanted an end to the Roman occupation, they wanted a political system.

And to this Jesus responds with, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is’ or ‘There!’”

The coming of the kingdom of God is not a matter of careful observances, or rituals, or charts or graphs. There is no mathematical formula that one can use to predict the coming of the kingdom of God. 

When Jesus says that the kingdom isn’t coming in ways that can be observed, He is literally saying that it won’t be a show when it comes. And why is that? Because it has already come, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

The King James Version quotes Jesus as saying, “the kingdom of God is within you.” This is not an accurate translation of this phrase and has caused all kinds of bad theology to spring up. 

The kingdom of God was certainly not within the hearts of these unbelieving Pharisees. The kingdom of God was, however, in their midst. It was not a kingdom of force like they wanted but a kingdom of faith as God intended. This is the “already” in the “already not yet” paradigm.

The Bible Knowledge commentary says, “Jesus’ point was that He was standing right in their midst. All they needed to do was to acknowledge that he is indeed the Messiah who could bring in the kingdom – and then the kingdom would come.”

Warren Wiersbe asked, “How can you enter the kingdom if you reject the King?” But that’s what they did.

John Calvin wrote, “[Jesus] means, that they are greatly mistaken who seek with the eyes of the flesh the kingdom of God, which is in no respect carnal or earthly, for it is nothing else that the inward and spiritual renewing of the soul.”

That’s the “already” in the “already but not yet kingdom.”

Through faith in Jesus we are forgiven of our sins, clothed with Christ’s righteousness before God, adopted as God’s children, and made citizens of God’s eternal kingdom.

In verse 22 Jesus turns to His disciples and addresses the “not yet” aspect of the kingdom of God.

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. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

This is as close to a timeline as Jesus will give: There will be a Day of the Son of Man but it won’t happen until after His suffering and death and resurrection.

But there is another very important detail here. People will claim that Christ has returned and say “Look  here, or look there,” But Jesus says don’t go out or follow them. There have been countless false christs throughout history but Jesus is very clear here that the day of His return won’t be a secret for just a small group to witness.

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. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

What do you know about lightening? It happens in an instant, it’s unmistakable, and it lights up the whole sky. There is no question what is happening, it’s certainly no secret. That’s what Jesus says that His return will be like.

Jesus gives two examples of what life will be like in that day as well.

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.

What does that mean? In Noah’s day complete destruction came even while people were just going about life. A worldwide flood that you can read about in Genesis 6. In Lot’s day complete destruction came even while people were just going about life. Fire and brimstone fell from heaven and destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, you can read about that in Genesis 19.

A lot can be said about the condition and the way in which people were living in both of those accounts that can easily find parallels in our own day but Jesus’ point was that people were just doing their own thing and destruction came on them all at once: eating and drinking and marrying and buying and selling and planting and building and then WHAM! So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

But Jesus isn’t just painting a picture of the apocalypse He is instructing His disciples and us on readiness.

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. 

In the account in Genesis 19 when God is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He instructs Lot and His family flee the city and not look back. And as always, everybody always does as God instructs, right?

Lot’s wife disobeys and as they were fleeing looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt.

The prevailing thought is that Lot’s wife was preoccupied with her earthly life and possessions and was destroyed as a result. She sought to preserve the life she knew and instead she lost it all.

When Jesus returns there will be no sense in gathering our stuff before we meet Him. Readiness to meet Christ is the exact opposite of getting ready to go on a trip. Instead of gathering up the stuff we think we need, we need to learn to let go of it and go meet Jesus.

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.”

This is not evidence of biblical support for a secret rapture. If you were grinding flour with someone or working in a field or sleeping in a bed with another person and they floated off you would notice!

This is a reality that some of us are all too aware of, people that we love, are married to, or work alongside that are not part of God’s already not yet kingdom.

The disciples were still were still hungry for information about the coming of the Lord and so they asked Him where it would happen and Jesus really responds in a way that makes it super clear.

37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Now doesn’t that clear it right up? There is lots of speculation about Jesus’ meaning here and the ideas are all over the map. But the simple truth is circling vultures can be seen for miles and everyone can see them and when the Lord returns it will be no less obvious. That’s a far more tame thought than some that I read about as cryptic as it may still seem. Some things we just aren’t going to know until we ask him face to face.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 says,

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We need to be always ready to go, always ready for Christ’s return because it could be today. The Pharisees wanted to know when it would be and people have been trying to work it out ever since even though Jesus clearly said that not even He knows the day or the hour, only the Father. We have to wrestle with the question of, are we ready? If you knew Jesus was coming back on Tuesday, how would your life change, what would you differently? Why not change those things now so that If He does come back on Tuesday you will be ready and He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Amen.


No comments:

Post a Comment