St Luke 17: 20 – 37 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’
Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. 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. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.’ Then they asked him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.’
Reflection In our text the Saviour informs us of three dangers with reference to the Second Coming. The first danger is that of shaping the Second Coming in accordance with our own desires and expectations. The Pharisees nor the people of Israel would not recognize the coming kingdom because they had false pre-conceptions of what the King and the Kingdom would (must) be like. When Jesus failed to fulfil these expectations, He was rejected, and ultimately put on the Cross.
The second danger is one that posed a threat to the disciples: over-eagerness to see the Lord Jesus again, manifested in a chasing after every potential “messiah” which may arise. Our Lord’s return cannot (as the Pharisees supposed) be all figured out in advance, but we can be assured that we will know it when it comes. The emphasis of our Lord is not on us finding or discovering Him and His coming Kingdom, but on how He will find us.
The third danger is that of worldly preoccupations, which diminishes our desire for the Kingdom, and dims our view of its reality, and dulls our desire for it to come. When our “life” is found in Christ, and we can give up all else, then we will eagerly await His return, and we will work to hasten it. This is why Jesus has had so much to say about possessions.
These three dangers are relevant not only to the coming kingdom, but to all other areas of our life as well. If you, my friends, have not yet trusted in Christ as your Saviour, you should do so today.
Prayer Where nations budget for war, countries waste food, governments claim their policies are heaven-blessed, Christians seek the Kingdom in the shape of their own church women who speak up for their dignity are treated with scorn and contempt, men try hard to be tough because they are afraid to be tender, our prayers falter, our faith weakens, and our light grows dim, we pray, in Jesus’ name, your Kingdom come, your will be done. Amen
Susan Knight is a Local Church Leader at Reigate Park URC and Lay Preaching Commissioner for the Southern Synod