Thursday, March 10
Luke 17:20-18:14 — Parables & Kingdom Come
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
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 People 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. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
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. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.
32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35-36 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ “
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Points of Interest:
- (v.24) “flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other”—this is another interesting already/not yet moment regarding the kingdom of God. The Pharisees ask, “When will the kingdom of God come?” and Jesus answers, “It’s already here, but you don’t even see it, because it’s not a flashy thing.” Then He turns to His disciples and says, “When my kingdom comes, you’ll know it; it’ll be as obvious as the biggest fireworks display ever!” Perhaps it’s not even worth looking for the complete Technicolor version of Jesus’ kingdom unless you first appreciate its subtler form.
- (v.5) “you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man”—the full inauguration of the kingdom will take longer than the disciples expect—almost longer than they can bear.
- (v.32) “Remember Lot’s wife!”—before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, God warned Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family to escape. As they were running away, Lot’s wife turned back in regret, and she turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:13).
- (v.37) “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather”— Today’s whole passage is a bit difficult to understand, but the rest of it is simple compared to this. Hear is one possible interpretation:
- A dead body, lying on the ground, is difficult to see; but vultures, circling in the air, are easy to spot. So, if you want to find a dead body, look for vultures. The vultures will lead you to the body. Likewise, the coming of the Son of Man will be hard to spot directly; but there will be signs that point you in the right direction.
- (v.5) “yet because this widow keeps bothering me”—the judge eventually decides that it’s easier to grant the woman’s request than not. If the widow can outlast the corrupt and callous judge, it is certainly worth it for us to keep praying to God, who is a good father who wants to answer our prayers.
- (v.7) “Will he keep putting them off?”—if God is so eager to answer our prayers, why is persistence necessary? Why would He put us off at all? The answer may have something to do with the story about the fruitless fig tree (13:7). In this story of the widow and the unjust judge, Jesus is specifically talking about never giving up in praying for Him to come again to set everything right. The story of the fruitless fig tree, on the other hand, is about God’s willingness to give us every possible chance to make the most of our lives. Perhaps God’s eagerness to answer our prayers for His kingdom to come is balanced by His desire to allow us to achieve maximum possible fruitfulness before it does.
Taking it home:
- For you: Pray that God would rescue you from the temptation to think of yourself as better than others. Particularly if you are a part of a close family, pray that God would give you the grace to enjoy what’s special about your family without looking down on others.
- For your Six: Ask God to loosen any attachment your Six might have to their possessions. This passage tells us that the ability to leave behind our possessions without hesitation might very well prove crucial to bringing us into God’s kingdom.
- For our church/ILTJ: Jesus seems to think it is really an open question whether or not he will find people patiently and faithfully expecting Him when he brings his kingdom. Pray that our church would be ready and waiting, and that when He comes He will find faith here.