devotion 3-28-15

Good Morning!Tomorrow is Palm Sunday; our children will be processing in with the palms and singing together. Don’t miss out!

Luke 17:20-37

20 Once Jesus* was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among* you.’

22 Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. 24For 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.* 25But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. 26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. 27They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. 28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them 30—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. 32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. 34I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.’* 37Then they asked him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.’

The Pharisees ask a question – when is the kingdom of God coming? When? Jesus says, essentially, this is not a physical kingdom whose boundaries you can mark, whose signs people will point out – the Kingdom of God is among you. In the Greek, this is a plural “you”, not singular, so to read it as “within you” is likely not correct; in addition, at this point he is talking with those who have opposed him from the beginning. Saying the kingdom is among you, Jesus is pointing to himself – even though they deny him, he inaugurates the kingdom.

Then Jesus turns to his disciples, who have overheard the conversation with the Pharisees. If the kingdom of God is among us, then what happens when Jesus is no longer among them? Is that all there is? There is still trouble in the world; there is still hate, and war, and fear, and anger – will he not establish his reign in their time in a way that is final and envelopes all? What we must understand, and what Jesus is teaching his disciples, is that there are two parts to the kingdom – there is the “Now Kingdom”, the Kingdom among us, in the presence of the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit, active and living – this is what I spoke of before, the Kingdom we could reach out and touch – almost. But there is also the Not Yet Kingdom, the big word is “eschaton”, and study of it is called “eschatology”. When we worry too much about the Not Yet Kingdom, we fail to enjoy, work for, and follow God in the Now Kingdom. But when we forget the Not Yet Kingdom, we lose hope that something better is coming! To understand, we must remember to keep the balance – already and not yet, in our midst and still to come, has come and will come. (Fred Craddock, Interpretation:Luke.)

Jesus says yes, he will return, the Son of Man will come, but not before they long for that day, not when they expect to see it, not immediately. Some of Jesus’ followers would be disheartened by the delay – and one thing must precede all the rest – Jesus would go to the cross in their day. But when will he return? When not expected – as those around Noah, and those around Lot did not expect those cataclysms. When it does come, do not attempt to escape but give oneself to it – trying to save life or property will be futile. And where will it come? Jesus responds with a proverb – it is not until after the prey is dead that you see the vultures gather. And so – we live in the Kingdom now, doing our best to follow Jesus as our king, and to do his will in our lives. And we anticipate our participation in the kingdom yet to come.

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