WHERE IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
(See also Matthew 24 & 25)
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Susan: The Pharisees were looking for the Messiah to overthrow Roman rule and set up an earthly kingdom immediately.
Susie: One of the reasons they did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah was that He did not operate in this manner. He was meek and humble, born in a stable, and not at all their picture of a conquering king. Jesus’s kingdom was not visible to the Pharisees because they did not believe. Jesus goes on to explain.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Susan: The Kingdom of God did not have an earthly throne one could appear before. The Kingdom had already arrived in the hearts of those who believed and trusted in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, following and obeying His teachings.
Susie: In that sense, the Kingdom of God is still manifest in the lives of believers today. We walk upon this earth, but our citizenship and our loyalties are to the Sovereign Lord of our lives—Jesus Christ. This earth remains the same, but our perspective toward it changes dramatically as the Holy Spirit works within us.
Susan: Our outlook is ever evolving as the Holy Spirit transforms us by the grace and truth of God to be more and more like Jesus.
Luke 17:22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
Susan: Jesus foretold of the time when He would no longer walk the earth in a physical body. His disciples would ache to be with Him, walking alongside Him again.
Susie: Even those of us who have never physically seen the incarnate Jesus, long for the day when He returns and frees us from this fallen world.
Luke 17:23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
Susan: False teachers, false Messiahs, deceivers will turn up here, there, and everywhere. Jesus says we should run the other way. We should not listen to such nonsense or be deceived into parading after them like children after the Pied Piper.
Susie: This sounds obvious, but we are warned that these false Christs will be cunning and able to do fantastic things:
Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Susie: However, if we belong to Jesus, I believe the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to their falseness.
Susan: Jesus paid much to high a price, sacrificing His own life on the cross for us, to allow us to be stolen away by the enemy (John 10:27-29).
Susie: The Holy Spirit will remind us of what Jesus says next.
Luke 17:24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
Susie: When Christ returns in all His glory, it will be obvious to all—like lightening visible for miles around. His appearing is compared to “blazing fire” in 2 Thessalonians 1:7. He will no longer be meek and humble. Instead, He will reveal all His majesty and might.
Susan: No one will be able to miss the fact that Jesus’s time has surely come. For those who believe, this is a glorious day in His story and our own.
Susie: For those who have never trusted Jesus, it will be a terrifying day of judgment. They will not be able to miss it either as that fire is meant to punish them and banish them from the presence of God (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Luke 17:25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
Susie: The Pharisees expected the Messiah to set up His kingdom on earth right then. However, that was not the eternal plan.
Susan: Jesus points out that before He returns to set up that earthly kingdom, His death must be a reality. He was sent to preach the Kingdom of God then die on the cross as the substitute—the perfect, sacrificial Lamb—to pay the penalty of our sins. He must surrender His will to that of His Father to fulfill this purpose.
Susie: At that time, even His disciples did not clearly understand that He would die and be raised on the third day. On this side of the cross and the empty tomb, we have a fuller understanding of what Jesus was saying. We have the New Testament to encourage us as we await the day that Jesus’s return will be more powerful and magnificent than streaks of lightening in the sky.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Ponder this and Apply it: Jesus may not be sitting upon an earthly throne at this moment. However, God’s kingdom is thriving among those who truly trust in Him. Is your changed life evidence of the Kingdom of God at work in you? Are you eagerly awaiting His return while fulfilling the mission He has given you here and now? Ask the Lord to help you live each day with the awareness that the Kingdom of God is within you and the joy of anticipating the day Christ returns to set all things right.