The Gospel of Luke - Part 74
The Values of Christ's Kingdom (continued) — Luke 17:7-10
The Nature of Christ's Kingdom — Luke 17:11-37

January 28, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

We are still in Luke Chapter 17, where Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God. Remember what James Long said: “The Kingdom is where the King is”. So as I pointed out last week, if Jesus is in you, you are in the kingdom of God.

Over the last couple of lessons we have looked at the Kingdom Value of Influence, how our behavior can adversely affect others, “cause the little ones to stumble” and our obligation to lovingly help a brother correct his troublesome behavior or to take that same correction ourselves if needed.

Then we dealt with how critical faith is and that it is not about how much faith we have but who the faith is in.

Last week, after seeing how important it is to forgive others, we saw that we are servants and that being obedient servants is critical in the Kingdom of God. Our goal should be to do everything that Jesus told and tells us to do. That is what an obedient servant does. Let’s pick up this morning with another aspect of this Servanthood.

We are Unworthy Servants:

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” —Luke 17:7-10
In verse 10, Jesus teaches us that we should say: ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’

Why do you think it’s important to have a sense of unworthiness in relation to God? A sense of unworthiness always marks godly people:

A sense of unworthiness is essential to appreciating the grace of God. What we deserve is condemnation and punishment. What we experience is forgiveness and grace through Christ Jesus. What happens when a Christian loses this sense of unworthiness? There's a lot we can learn about serving from this passage.
Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? —Luke 17:7-8
These verses indicate that a servant expects to be treated like a servant. We need to be careful that we're not serving just so people will praise us.
Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ —Luke 17:9-10
Verses 9 and 10 show that God deserves our best. Even when we've done all that we've been asked, we're simply doing our "duty" as citizens of the Lord's kingdom. Remember, first and foremost, we are here to serve God. So we are servants, unworthy servants. We did nothing even to deserve to be in the family, even as a servant.

3.   Thankfulness:

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” —Luke 17:11-19
What are some things that strike you in this story? Why do you think the nine lepers who were healed didn’t take time to thank and praise Jesus?

R. Kent Hughes, in his Luke commentary says:

“One of the scarcest virtues of the human race is gratitude ... It is also true today that never have people had so much and been so ungrateful ... Ungratefulness, though it has always been endemic to the human soul, is flourishing throughout our culture ...”
Thankfulness is very important to God. It's important to Him not because He needs it but because we need it! God doesn’t need our thanks and praise. So why do you think it’s so important to the Lord that we be thankful? What are some positive benefits of a thankful spirit? Over and over again thankfulness is talked about in Scripture. The words "thanks" and "thanksgiving" are mentioned over 100 times in the Bible (pretty evenly divided between the Old and New Testaments — 57 times in the Old, 45 times in the New).
...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ... —Ephesians 5:20

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6

...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. —Colossians 1:12

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. —Colossians 3:17

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:18
Warren Wiersbe, in Christianity Today, wrote:
Some people are appreciative by nature, but some are not; and it is these latter people who especially need God's power to express thanksgiving. We should remember that every good gift comes from God and that He is (as the theologians put it ) "the Source, Support, and End of all things." The very breath in our mouths is the free gift of God. Thankfulness is the opposite of selfishness. The selfish person says, "I deserve what comes to me! Other people ought to make me happy." But the mature Christian realizes that life is a gift from God, and that the blessings of life come only from His bountiful hand.
All ten of these lepers were fervent in their asking of Jesus to help them. But only one was equally fervent in giving thanks.

How about you? Do you take time to sincerely thank God for His blessings, for answered prayers, for all He does for you? Is thankfulness as prominent a value in your life as it is in the Lord's kingdom? Are you known more as a "thanker" or a "complainer"?  One attitude or the other will dominate!

A.W. Tozer said:

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”
To quote R. Kent Hughes again from his Luke Commentary:
"The New Testament has a great deal to say about the kingdom of God ... This is understandable because the New Testament is about the kingdom’s King — Jesus Christ ... The fundamental definition of the kingdom of God is: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule."
Now that we have looked at the The Values Of His Kingdom, let’s move on to The Nature Of His Kingdom.

The Nature of Christ's Kingdom:

We learn some important truths concerning what God’s kingdom is like. Most of these truths deal with the King of that kingdom. Who is He? Where is He? How will the world respond to Him? When is He coming back?

The Location of The Kingdom:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” —Luke 17:20-21
 What do you think the Pharisees thought he meant? What do you think Jesus meant? The Pharisees asked a very sad question. Here the Pharisees are basically asking the Messiah when the Messiah will come! They ask about when the kingdom of God will arrive when, in one sense, it is already present. That is what Jesus says: ...the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

Whenever the Jews thought of the kingdom of God, they thought of a geographic, a political kingdom. This was a natural assumption based on God establishing the nation of Israel in the promised land of Canaan. But, as usual, people confuse symbol with substance. The nation of Israel was intended to be a picture of the true kingdom. The true kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom.

The Greek word translated “in the midst” is εντος [entos] which can be translated “inside, within or among”. The word is only used twice in the New Testament. Some scholars argue that it should be translated “among” in Luke 17:21 because the kingdom of God was not in the hearts of the Pharisees. Either way the word is translated, the verse is true:

The kingdom of God is in the midst of you. — Truly, the kingdom of God was “in their midst”. They were waiting for the kingdom of God to come, but with Jesus it had already arrived! Even today, the kingdom of God exists “in the midst” of Satan’s rule of this world. This describes a very important truth we need to understand concerning the kingdom of God: We aren’t called to be separate from the world, but like Jesus, to live in the world, “in the midst” of those without Jesus.

If the Greek word is translated as within, it is still true for believers.

The kingdom of God is within you — This is also true and reinforces Jesus’ continual emphasis on the heart. The kingdom of God is not a matter of where you live but of who lives in your heart! Jesus addressed this issue also in John 4:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” —John 4:21-24
People tend to be preoccupied with the outside, even as Christians — denominations, church buildings, etc. But the kingdom of God is “within”; it has to do with who is inside you.

Entos, one simple Greek word that implies two important truths about God’s kingdom!

The King Of The Kingdom:

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.” —Luke 17:22-37
Let’s look at some things we learn about Jesus from this passage.  Jesus first talks to the Pharisees about the Kingdom. Then He speaks to His disciples about the King for the rest of this chapter. One theme in this passage has to do with how people respond to Jesus: some will follow Him while others reject Him; some will be ready for His return while others will not be.

The King of God’s Kingdom is the Son of Man:

Jesus calls Himself by this title four times in this passage. The title is used 25 times in the book of Luke and a total of about 80 times in the Gospels. All but one of the uses of this title are by Jesus Himself. In contrast, the title “Son of God” is used of Jesus only about 25 times in the Gospels and rarely by Jesus.  Because Jesus used this phrase so often to describe Himself, it clearly meant a great deal to Him. “Son of Man” emphasizes the humanity of Jesus — that He was fully human as well as fully God.

The Life Application Bible Notes say:

When Christ was born, God became a man. He was not part man and part God; he was completely human and completely divine (Col. 2:9) ... The two most common errors people make about Jesus are to minimize his humanity or to minimize his divinity. Jesus is both God and man.”
Ryrie Bible Study Notes say:
The title “Son of God” is Jesus’ divine name (Matthew 8:29), “Son of David” His Jewish name (Matthew 9:27), but “Son of Man” is the name that links Him to the earth and to His mission. It was His favorite designation of Himself (used more than 80 times) and was based on Daniel 7:13-14. It emphasizes
    (1) His lowliness and humanity (Matthew 8:20)
    (2) His suffering and death (Luke 19:10) and
    (3) His future reign as King (Matthew 24:27).
Can you think of some different ways that Jesus showed He was fully human? Next week — we will continue this study about the King being the Son of Man.