Luke 17:20-37 (CEV)
20 Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He answered, “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see. 21 There is no use saying, ‘Look! Here it is’ or ‘Look! There it is.’ God’s kingdom is here with you.”
22 Jesus said to his disciples:
The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not. 23 When people say to you, “Look there,” or “Look here,” don’t go looking for him. 24 The day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing across the sky. 25 But first he must suffer terribly and be rejected by the people of today. 26 When the Son of Man comes, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. 27 People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day when Noah went into the big boat. Then the flood came and drowned everyone on earth.
28 When Lot lived, people were also eating and drinking. They were buying, selling, planting, and building. 29 But on the very day Lot left Sodom, fiery flames poured down from the sky and killed everyone. 30 The same will happen on the day when the Son of Man appears.
31 At that time no one on a rooftop should go down into the house to get anything. No one in a field should go back to the house for anything. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife.
33 People who try to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives will save them. 34 On that night two people will be sleeping in the same bed, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. 35-36 Two women will be together grinding wheat, but only one will be taken. The other will be left.
37 Then Jesus’ disciples spoke up, “But where will this happen, Lord?”
Jesus said, “Where there is a corpse, there will always be buzzards.”
Here With You … Part 1
Can you hear the scoffing and jeering in the Pharisees’ voices as they ask Jesus to tell them when God’s Kingdom would come?
If you’ve been following through with this study from the beginning you will know that there is a huge antagonism between the Pharisees and Jesus.
He has ruffled their feathers.
He has unsettled their perches.
He has left them tetchy and touchy.
Because he keeps calling them out for being too interested in keeping all of their religious rules to care about the people right in front of them.
Because he keeps pointing out the uncomfortable truths about God that they had intentionally or unintentionally missed in their scriptures.
Because he keeps insisting that the poor and the broken and the outsiders get a place at the table and an important role in this Kingdom of God that he’s come to tell them about.
He keeps upsetting their applecarts and they’re nearing the end of their rope.
But Jesus doesn’t seem to be too put out by this. He responds the same as he always has – with the promise, the encouragement, the invitation to reach out and be part of this Kingdom that is here with them right now!
But then he goes a little further. I had to go back to Tom Wright on this one, but he suggests that all of this ‘end times’ (or ‘apocalyptic’) language about fiery flames and floods and people disappearing is actually Jesus co-opting a writing style that was very Jewish.
As a people group that had frequently existed under the powers of other kings and emperors over the previous 1500 years, the Jews had developed this way of encouraging each other about a future out from under the authority of their oppressors.
And Wright suggests that although many people might think of these words as being about the Roman legions coming to destroy Jerusalem, it is more likely that they have to do with the Pharisees themselves. He says,
For Jesus, in one of the most dramatic twists of thinking, the force that has most directly opposed his teaching and his kingdom-ministry is official Israel itself, focused on the Temple and it’s hierarchy and the Pharisees whose thinking and practice derived from the Temple. ~ Luke For Everyone, p. 210
So what would that mean for us, today?
We have no temple, no Pharisees, and Israel is a very different place than it was 2000 years ago.
What do we take from this?
I think three things are really important, but this is already long enough for one day, so you’ll have to wait until Thursday for the answers.
- Has Jesus ever ruffled your feathers? Unsettled your perch? Left you tetchy or touchy?
- How do you recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit inviting you to join in the work of the Kingdom?
- What are your thoughts on what we might take from this?
- If you’re able to, read through the passage a couple of times a day between now and Thursday and allow it to percolate slowly in the back of your mind. What does the Holy Spirit want to say to you through these words?