Luke 17:20-21 (NIV)
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,
21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
On verses 20-21: When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come (v20), what they were referring to was the end times when God would judge the world. In response, Jesus warns the Pharisees against thinking that the kingdom of God was just some future event, when in fact the kingdom of God is already here and is working. As Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is within you” (v21).
What can we learn from this?
1. We might be inclined to think that the kingdom of God is something outside of us that will happen sometime in the future, but here Jesus says that an important part of God’s kingdom is already happening now inside people. The fact that you are reading this, the fact that you’re thinking about Jesus right now could very well be proof that God’s kingdom is working in your life and that, as Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is within you”.
2. Don’t be so fixated on figuring out the future (whether it’s when the end times will be or your own future) that you forget to live out God’s purposes for your life today. While many people are obsessed with the future and the end times, don’t be so focused on the stuff of tomorrow, which is beyond your control, that you miss out on the things that are within your control right now, like loving God and loving the people in your life.
Luke 17:22-24 (NIV)
22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them.
24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.
On verses 22-24: Having just been asked about the end times, Jesus uses this opportunity to tell his disciples about his return. Jesus tells his disciples that one day, when he has gone back to heaven, they will long to have Jesus physically present with them again, but will not be able to (v22). That Jesus compares his own return to lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other (v24) suggests that when Jesus returns it will be something that everyone will see and that no one will miss. Thus Jesus warns against falling for those who teach that Jesus has already returned (v23).
Luke 17:25 (NIV)
25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
On verse 25: Before Jesus could return, Jesus would first need to be rejected, to suffer on the cross for our sins, and to conquer death by rising again, just as the Scriptures had predicted.
Luke 17:26-30 (NIV)
26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.
27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On verses 26-30: Just as in Noah’s day people lived their everyday, ordinary lives when the flood came and destroyed them (Genesis 6-7), just as in Lot’s day people lived their everyday, ordinary lives when Sodom the city where Lot lived was destroyed (Genesis 19), so the day when Jesus returns will come suddenly and unexpectedly. It will be an especially dreadful day for those who have not prepared their hearts for it by receiving Jesus.
Lord Jesus, please help me to have the right attitude toward Your return. May I not get so fixated on dates and predictions of when You will return. Rather may I simply live this life loving You, loving others, and making the most of every moment to live for Your purposes. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!