The Gospel of Luke - Part 75
The Nature of Christ's Kingdom — Luke 17:11-37

February 4, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


When we started the study of Luke Chapter 17, I suggested that it could be outlined as being in two sections:

So far we have dealt with the Values of His Kingdom; the values and qualities that are important to God; our influence, our faith, our servanthood, as unworthy as we are. Last week we wrapped up the section about the Values of His Kingdom.   So this morning we jump into the section that deals with:

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?

The Son of Man:

The title “Son of Man” that Jesus uses four times in today’s passage reminds us of all that Jesus went through to save us. It sums up what Paul tells us about Jesus in Philippians:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. —Philippians 2:5-8
What do you learn about Jesus from this passage? Now lets go back to the Luke Passage we read. Maybe what we learn about the Son of Man in this passage can be summed up in three words:

1.   Rejected:

But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. —Luke 17:25
Jesus suffered many things... was rejected in many ways. Can you think of some of the things He suffered and ways He was rejected? Jesus tells His disciples here that He is going to be rejected by most people and will suffer and die. He wants them to understand that there is a purpose behind these things happening, it is all a part of God’s plan. This is not the first reference Jesus has made to His impending suffering and death — He speaks repeatedly of this to His disciples here in Luke. (Luke 9:22, 9:44, 13:33, 17:25, 18:32-33)

Jesus will be rejected by this generation. There are numerous references in The Bible to Jesus being rejected:

The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. —Psalm 118:22-23

...saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” —Luke 9:22

But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. —Luke 17:25

But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone’? —Luke 20:17

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God. —1 Peter 2:4
Jesus warned that the rejection and suffering that He experienced would also be experienced by His followers:
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. —John 15-21
All of us want to be liked, want to be accepted. But we need to be prepared to experience rejection if we identify with Jesus — His teachings, His values. However, let’s be sure that any hostility toward us is because of Christ and not because of any ungodly attitudes on our part.

2.   Removed:

And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. —Luke 17:22-24
What strikes you in these verses? And he said to the disciples . . .

Notice that before this, Jesus is answering the questions of the Pharisees, addressing them. Now He turns His attention to His disciples.

The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. —Luke 17:22
Jesus understands how much His followers will miss Him once He is gone. He also understands that this longing might make them susceptible to false claims of His return. So He warns them about this.
They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. —Luke 17:23
Over the centuries, there have been innumerable claims that Jesus has returned or is about to return. This same warning is repeated by Jesus in other passages:
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. —Matthew 24:23

And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him. —Mark 13:21

And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them." —Luke 21:8
Jesus also makes it clear that there will be a time when He will be gone. He warns them not to be fooled if someone claims that Jesus has returned and is at such and such a place. He tells them that His return will be clear and unmistakable to everyone.
For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. —Luke 17:24
In the Gospel of John, Jesus also told us that it is to our benefit that He leave:
But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. —John 15:6-7

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. —John 16:12-14

For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. —Luke 17:24
3.   Returned:

Jesus says that His return will not be restricted to one location. Rather, His return will be visible to all places on earth at the same time. So we don’t need to run off and check if we hear that He has returned to a certain place! If we did not see it, He did not return.

In our next lesson we will continue to learn about the Nature of His Kingdom and especially about the King Himself. We will look at His Returning and then go on to other aspects of the Nature of His Kingdom. I assume you want to know about His Returning. Don’t miss that one, the lesson or the event.