Powerful One, as the sun dispels fog, so Your light can dispel my fear. Turn my gloom into cheerfulness, to forge ahead with You.
Read Luke 17:20–37
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“This passage holds out an invitation to those who are anxious about the future: God’s sovereign rule of the world, and his healing love, are yours for the grasping…” (N. T. Wright).
When Jesus says “the kingdom of God is in your midst” (21), what he means is that in his own person God’s kingdom has already come. That kingdom can be welcomed and received as people receive and welcome Jesus himself. The Pharisees (and others) wanted a map showing where the kingdom would come and a timetable to tell them when. They were missing the point. Jesus was the kingdom and submission to him was the price of entry.
In instructing his disciples Jesus was transforming their thinking. They did not need to worry in case they missed the kingdom because the Son of Man’s coming would be as unmistakable as the lightning that flashes across the sky (24). As a corpse in the desert would be made obvious by the vultures (37), so would the Son of Man’s presence be obvious in his day (26). Speculating about when it would happen was pointless. Its timing would take people by surprise. Yet in defiance of all that Jesus said about the unknowability of the time of the end (Matt. 24:36; Luke 12:40; Acts 1:7), people through the ages have persisted in curious speculation.
Instead, Christ’s disciples should be ready, knowing that the end might come at any moment. Following a suffering and rejected Messiah (25) would require courage and perseverance and would demand everything of them. Most of all, they should not be so attached to their possessions and worldly affairs that, like Lot’s wife, they “look back” and get caught out (Gen. 19:16–26). Being prepared invites us to live on two levels. On one level, we get on with daily life and face the tasks and opportunities of the moment, especially those of witness (Acts 1:8). At another level, we live in detachment (33), always conscious that the time is short and Christ’s coming is soon.
“I slept but my heart was awake” (Song of Songs 5:2). How might this saying be relevant to today’s study?
Lord Jesus, I have signed on with You. I believe, trust and follow You. May Your kingdom rule be in me and work through me.
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