The Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:20-37

The Coming of the Kingdom

The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the most comforting doctrines of Scripture and foundational to any understanding of the Christian faith.  I do not say that everyone must know everything that pertains to this doctrine, and there are many details on which we may disagree, but that our Lord shall return – that is a non-negotiable teaching of the Christian faith.

So some Pharisees ask Jesus “when the Kingdom of God would come?”  Why they asked, we don’t know, but it was a relevant question given that the Kingdom was what Jesus spoke most about.  Now before Jesus starts talking about his return, he tells us something important.  His answer to the Pharisees was, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  This is all to say that in our Lord’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost – this is all to say that the Kingdom of God is a present reality.  We are at this moment “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).  And we need to realize this and rejoice in that knowledge.  When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom as a grain of mustard seed, or a hidden treasure, or a pearl of great price, or any number of things, he is speaking of the Kingdom as it is now in this world, and of us as citizens of it (Ephesians 2:19).  So let us praise the Lord for the blessings He has bestowed on us this day.

But then he tells his disciples that the time will come when they “will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man” (Jesus’ favorite self-designation), but would not see it.  Why?  Because he must suffer and die, first.  And we share this same desire, do we not?  Do not our hearts long for his coming?  Do we not wish for our translation away from this world into his glory (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)?  But he warns us not to be deceived by those who say that he has already come or who know the date.  His coming will be like a flash of lightning across the heavens.  And it will not be expected: It will be like the day when Noah entered the ark, or when God destroyed Sodom – people were buying, selling, eating, drinking, and, of course, sinning.  Two will be working or walking together; one will be taken, the other left.  And what will be left of the earth will be all death and destruction as Judgment Day arrives and God’s Son and His people finally vindicated.  So the Kingdom is both a present reality which we experience in the down-payment of the Holy Spirit, but which also awaits its future coming in all its fullness.  Rejoice!

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