“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
And he said to the disciples., “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 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 suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 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 when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
In Luke 17:20-37, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come. Jesus responds to their question. But then, He speaks in much greater detail to his disciples about the mystery of this coming day of the Son of Man. And so, from this passage I would like to answer one main question: What will this coming day of the Son of Man be like? Now in answering this particular question, I would also like to answer a few other questions: such as, When is this day actually coming? What will people be able to do when this day does come? How should we as believers live in light of this coming day? And finally, what specifically will happen when the Son of Man returns?
From this passage of Scripture, I would like to share with you four key characteristics of the coming Day of the Son of Man (the Lord). In verse 20, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “When is the kingdom of God coming?” In asking this question, the Pharisees revealed that they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. The Pharisees were looking for a Messiah who was a conquering king. They wanted a political leader who would defeat the Romans and restore the nation of Israel back to the Jews — God’s chosen people. They were certainly not looking for a lowly carpenter from Nazareth. But what they failed to see and understand is that the Messiah was actually standing in their midst. Remember when John baptized Jesus? He said in John 1:26, “I baptize with water but among you stands one you do not know.” Jesus knew that the Pharisees did not believe in Him. And therefore, he did not give them much of an answer. But what he did say reveals four truths about the Kingdom of God:
First, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God over His creation and over those hearts that trust in Him. His Kingdom rule was established at creation. However, then it was attacked by Satan and the fall was the result. Now it is being restored on earth by Jesus Christ through the work of His church.
Second, it is also important to understand that the Kingdom of God is both ‘already’ but ‘not yet.’ It has come, and yet, it is coming. It is both present and future. And this is why we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Jesus’s first coming as the Savior of the world ushered in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus returns as the Son of Man in all of His glory and power, He will bring to full consummation the Kingdom of God on earth.
Third, the Kingdom of God was already there in the midst of the Pharisees, just as it is here today in our midst. Jesus said in verse 20, “The Kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or “There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Jesus was standing right there in their midst. All the Pharisees had to do was to believe in Him, and, in that moment, they would have not only seen the Kingdom, but they could have entered into it by faith.
Fourth, a man enters the kingdom of God when he is born again. It is in that first moment of belief that God reigns over a man’s heart. In John 3:3 Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” And then in verse 5, Jesus said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” When a man is born physically, of water, he is born into the kingdom of man. When he is born spiritually, he is born into the kingdom of God. It is in that moment of belief that he begins to see the kingdom of God around him.
The Kingdom of God is already here in our midst, but it is not yet fully here. It has not yet fully arrived. Full consummation is being delayed until the coming day of the Son of Man.
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees was brief. Their hearts were hard. When they asked him “When will the kingdom of God come?” they didn’t really want to know the answer, at least not from Jesus. Their question was no doubt full of sarcasm. Remember, Jesus had publicly humiliated the Pharisees on numerous occasions. They were always trying to trap him with their questions and they were secretly plotting to kill him. Jesus had even begun to speak to them in parables almost as if He was hiding the truth from them. When the disciples questioned Jesus about this in Matthew 13:11-14, Jesus replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables. ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.”
Here is a warning: the more you hear the truth and reject it, the more calloused your heart becomes. And the more difficult it becomes for you to see and understand biblical truth. 1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This is why so many of your friends and family members do not understand you, and they do not understand what you are talking about whenever you talk about spiritual things, because so many of them are without the Spirit. Most of the Pharisees were men without the Spirit.
After speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus turned his attention to the disciples and began to explain to them the mysteries surrounding the Kingdom of God and the coming day of the Son of Man. He gave the disciples more than He gave to the Pharisees. Remember, whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Now again, what will the coming day of the Son of Man be like? Next week we will begin to look at the four key characteristics of this coming Day. Stay tuned. Amen!