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2010 Luke’s Gospel

 

The Kingdom of God is Within You

 

Luke 17:20-37

Key Verse: 17:21 "...nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

 

In today’s passage we will see Jesus teach about the kingdom of God. Actually Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, has been constantly teaching his disciples about the kingdom of God again and again. It’s because it is difficult to understand. However, Jesus persistently taught the kingdom of God in his hope for his disciples. In this passage he tells two things about the kingdom of God: It is invisible but real at present, and it will come visibly on a definite day in the future. Knowing the truth about the kingdom of God is more important than knowing how to play soccer well or put on a good makeup or how to study well. Let's pray to pay close attention to Jesus' words to know the truth deeply.

 

I. The kingdom within (20-21)

Look at verses 20-21. “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, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you.” One day Jesus was asked by the Pharisees about the time when the kingdom of God would come. Their question sounded serious somehow. Maybe they really wanted to know when the kingdom of God would come because they were also under the oppression of the Roman Empire. They longed for a king like David to lead them to victory over Rome and restore their nation’s glory. They hoped that God would do something to deliver Israel from the hand of Rome. That’s why the Pharisees carefully observed current events and the Bible, longing for God’s kingdom to come down on earth.

 

Even though the Pharisees asked about the time of the kingdom of God, Jesus replied to their question with another answers such as how the kingdom of God comes and where it is. Jesus did not focus on the time when the kingdom of God, but wanted to correct their concept of the kingdom of God. The Pharisees thought the kingdom of God would come with careful observation. All they did was to observe current events carefully with theological speculation. They did not take practical actions such as preaching the gospel to those in need to advance the kingdom of God. Careful observation itself does not bring the kingdom.  Studying the Bible deeply and the knowledge of it itself without putting it into practice do not guarantee the kingdom of God.

 

Then, how does the kingdom come? Throughout the history, many people have said, “Here it is! There it is!” They were all false teachers who made believers of weak faith gone astray.  Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 4:17. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” And he says in verse 21, “…because the kingdom of God is within you.” Therefore, when a person repents of his sins and accepts the gospel, the kingdom of God comes into his or her heart. The Pharisees' problem was that they did not repent. When they did not repent, they had no spiritual insight to recognize Jesus as Savior (Lk 7:29-30). Although Jesus drove out demons, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught the truth with authority, they refused to acknowledge God's work through Jesus. Without accepting Jesus, they could not enter the kingdom of God. To the Pharisees, it was most urgent to repent and believe in Jesus. They needed to stop speculating and just believe the good news! Again, God's reign begins in one's heart, when he or she repents and accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. 

 

In Luke 19 there is a famous person in the Bible who was once a terrible sinner, but then repented of his sins and had the kingdom of God in his heart. His name is Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector. In our times tax collectors are really good positions in the society. It requires deep knowledge and understanding of how things are taxed according to the tax law. So they have power and authority in the community and also get paid well. But in Jesus’ times tax collectors were considered a terrible sinner.  The tax collectors were Jews who collected taxes from fellow Jews for the Roman Empire. They made their living by charging an extra amount. Some of them made more than a living. They exacted any amount they could and thus became well to do. They were considered traitors who became wealthy by collaborating with Roman authorities at the expense of their own people. Zacchaeus was one of terrible sinners in those days. But when he met Jesus and accepted him as his Savior, he repented his sins, by confessing like this “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8)  And Jesus blessed him, saying “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” Likewise, the kingdom of God began within Zacchaeus and spread even to us through him. 

When the first missionaries came to Alberta, Canada, they were savagely opposed by a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon. But he responded to the gospel and accepted Jesus as his savior. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought before him. Confronting the guilty man, he said, "You have killed my father, so now you must be my father. You shall ride my best horse and wear my best clothes." In utter amazement and remorse his enemy exclaimed, "My son, now you have killed me!" He meant, of course, that the hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief. When we have the kingdom of God within us we see forgiveness, kindness, and love around us, which the worldly kingdoms, full of hatred, revenge, violence and evil, never show. Let us pray that we may stand firm in the last days, having the kingdom of God deep in our heart by repenting our sins and accepting Jesus as our Savior. 

Jesus' point is clear. The kingdom of God begins in the hearts of those who accepts him as Savior and Lord. It is real and powerful. But it is also invisible and personal. Those who receive Jesus are changed on the inside. Hatred is replaced with God's love. Arrogance subsides, and a humble spirit rules powerfully in our heart. Rebellion turns to obedience. Bitterness becomes thanksgiving. Sorrow turns to joy. Fears disappear before a new courage. Selfishness gives way to a sacrificial spirit. Weakness is turned to strength. They become new creations in Christ Jesus, though their outer circumstances may not change much. The kingdom of God starts within those who believe in Jesus.

 

Look again at verse 21. The verse can also be translated, "the kingdom of God is among you." We can experience the kingdom of God in the Christian community. As Christ reigns over individual people, he joins them together in a bond of love and peace. Though it is also invisible, it is as real as the kingdom within. Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus love one another sacrificially. We can also experience the kingdom of God as we share the gospel with the lost. When one sinner repents, God's joy overflows and he shares this joy with us. It is a joy that the world does not know. The love and peace and joy of Christian community testify to the world that Christ is living and his kingdom is real. When we honor Christ in our relationships, we experience the kingdom of God among us. So let's love one another, forgive one another, bear one another, and help one another. Let's share with those in need and comfort those who are suffering, so that the kingdom of God among us reveals Christ's love even to the whole world.

 

II. The visible kingdom comes at Jesus' return (22-37)

Look at verses 22-25. “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. Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. 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. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”  Jesus had been speaking in response to the Pharisees. Now he turned to his disciples because he was always thinking of his disciples and wanted to help them in spirit. Though they were very happy right now because Jesus was with them all the time and helped them in everything, they would be left behind in the world soon because Jesus would go back to the Father. They would have to stand by their own faith in the midst of persecution and hardships. Though they had the kingdom of God within them, they would suffer much in the world. They would be vulnerable, like the Pharisees were, to the false hope of human dreams. Thinking of their near future, Jesus wanted to teach the truth of the visible kingdom through his second coming. This could be their true hope for which they could endure all the hardships. Jesus taught what that day would be like, how it affects the world, and what to do as we wait for him.

 

Look at verse 24 again. “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.” The Son of Man Jesus will come like the lightning. Lightning strikes suddenly and unexpectedly. It comes from above and is visible to everyone. Therefore, the disciples of Jesus, including us, should know clearly that many false Messiahs will claim that they are the Christ here and there throughout the history, but should not be shaken and believe that Jesus will come again like the lighting all of a sudden. Nobody knows when Jesus would come. But When Jesus comes again we will not hear about it from others, we will see it for ourselves. We will all see it at once. It will be a universal event. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Jesus' coming will shake the world and raise the dead.

 

Look at verse 25 again. “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” Even though Jesus is the Son of God, he had something to endure before that glorious day could come. Jesus would suffer and die on a cross. Jesus endured unbearable sufferings and death in our place, for our sins. Jesus bore the wrath of God to the full measure in our places. Most of all, he was abandoned by his heavenly father. Because of his rejection, we can be accepted by God as his precious children.

 

Look at verses 26-27. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 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.” The great event of Jesus' coming again will usher in the kingdom of God in a visible and universal way. It will be the end of all evil and unrighteousness. It will mark the beginning of the visible reign of Christ over all creation in the manifest fullness of his kingdom. This event will affect every person who has ever lived and decide each one's eternal destiny. We might think that everyone on earth would be interested in this event and watch for its coming. But Jesus tells us that this will not be so. The things people were doing were not bad; they were normal human activities. Noah's family members were doing the same things. However, Noah listened to God's warning of a coming flood judgment and built an ark in obedience to God's word to save himself and his family. He tried to warn the people of his time, but they paid no attention. They were consumed by desires of the flesh and had no spiritual life at all. Their intentional spiritual ignorance did not delay the flood. The flood as God had said destroyed them all.

 

To emphasize his point, Jesus gave another example. Look at verses 28-29. "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all." These historical events show that God's judgment came according to his word. Therefore we can be sure that Jesus will come again in time and space. That day will come! Those who live only for the flesh will be oblivious until it happens; then, suddenly they will perish. We must realize that the unbelieving world is godless and that it suppresses the truth. It gives off an insidious influence. In their willful ignorance they entice others to join them. We must not allow such influence into our hearts as we wait for Jesus' coming again. After living by the Spirit, we should not return to living by the flesh. We must listen to Jesus' promise of his glorious return. We can do so when we hold on to the word of God and pray continually.

 

In verses 31- 37, Jesus warns us not to be too attached to material things. When the time comes to leave them, we should flee without hesitation. Jesus also warns that human relationships are limited. Even close family members or friends will be suddenly separated. And that separation will be permanent. When Jesus comes again, those who lived selfish lives only for their flesh will go to eternal punishment. Those who lived a sacrificial life for Jesus and his kingdom will be abundantly and eternally blessed.

 

Today we have learned that the kingdom of God is within and among us when we accept Jesus personally by repenting and we can enjoy the kingdom of God in our hearts. We also have a glorious hope of the visible kingdom at his return that will occur definitely in God’s time. Therefore, we can live sacrificially and humbly as well as joyfully and thankfully for Jesus the Son of God our Lord. Let us pray that we may live a life that is full of hope for the kingdom of God.

 

No. Subject Author Date Views
75 Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22: 39-62) by M. Peter Lim on 10/31/10 [5] file admin 2010.11.01 20454
74 Living As New Covenant People (Luke 22:24-38) by M. Joseph Sohn on 10/24/10 [4] file admin 2010.11.01 20205
73 The New Covenant in Jesus' Blood (Luke 22:1-23) by 2nd M. Joseph Lee on 10/17/10 [4] file admin 2010.11.01 21501
72 The Son of Man is Coming (Luke 20:1-19) by M. Peter Lim on 10/10/10 [4] file admin 2010.11.01 20946
71 He is the God of the Living (Luke 20:20-47) by M. Joseph Sohn on (10/3/10) [4] file admin 2010.11.01 21062
70 The Parable of the Tenants (Luke 20:1-19) by M. Joseph Sohn on 09/26/10 file admin 2010.09.28 10971
69 Jesus Rides In As King (Luke 19:28-48) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 09/19/10 file admin 2010.09.28 9781
68 Put This Money To Work (Luke 19:11-27) by M. Joseph Sohn on 09/12/10 file admin 2010.09.15 10413
67 To Seek and to Save the Lost (Luke 19:1-10) by M. Joseph Sohn on 09/05/10 file admin 2010.09.08 9703
66 Everything Prophesied of the Son of Man will be Fulfilled (Luke 18:31-43) by M. Joseph Sohn on 08/29/10 [4] file admin 2010.09.08 10234
65 Don't Give Up; Pray! (Luke 18:1-14) by M. Peter Kim on 08/08/10 file admin 2010.09.08 10250
» The Kingdom of God is Within You (Luke 17:20-37) by M. Joseph Sohn on 08/01/10 file admin 2010.09.08 11270
63 Jesus Blesses A Thankful Man (Luke 17:11-19) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 07/25/10 file admin 2010.09.08 11117
62 The Attitude of an Unworthy Servant (Luke 17:1-10) by M. Joseph Sohn on 07/18/10 admin 2010.07.25 12201
61 Jesus Teaches About Our Eternal Destiny (Luke 16:19-31) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 07/11/10 file admin 2010.07.13 10638
60 Love God and Use Money Accordingly (Luke 16:1-18) by M. Joseph Sohn on 07/04/10 file admin 2010.07.08 11072
59 God Rejoices When One Sinner Repents (Luke 15:1-32) by M. Joseph Sohn on 06/27/10 [2] file admin 2010.07.01 12786
58 The Great Banquet In The Kingdom of God (Luke 14:1-35) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 06/20/10 [2] file admin 2010.06.30 10396
57 Jesus Teaches About the Kingdom of God (Luke 13:18-35) by M. Joseph Sohn on 06/13/10 file admin 2010.06.17 9701
56 Jesus Preaches Repentance and Heals a Crippled Woman(Luke 13:1-17) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 06/06/10 file admin 2010.06.07 14851