The Gospel of Luke - Part 76
The King of the Kingdom — Luke 17:22-37

March 25, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

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

We dealt with The Values of His Kingdom. The last lesson in Luke we looked at The Nature of His Kingdom, starting with its location. We concluded that as Jesus said, the Kingdom of God was in their midst. Where Jesus is, the Kingdom of God is, so He was in their midst, but they could not see it. We also concluded that for believers, the Kingdom of God is also within them, in their heart.

Then we started looking at what Jesus tells us about the King of The Kingdom. We first noticed that Jesus usually calls himself The Son of Man instead of The Son of God. This emphasizes that He is fully human as well as fully God. We closed the last lesson by looking at all the traits that were evidence that He was fully man, fully human. He got tired, He slept, He got hungry, He suffered, He got thirsty, He wept, He prayed, He died, He was tempted

This morning let's go back to the Luke Passage. Maybe what we learn about the Son of Man in this passage can be summed up in three words: Rejected, Removed, Returning. The King of the Kingdom encounters all three. This morning let’s start with the fact that He is rejected.

Rejected:

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
Jesus says He will be Rejected. Jesus tells his Disciples: But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

 

Jesus suffered many things ... was rejected in many ways. Let’s take a jog through Matthew and see where and how.

Matt. 26:38 — "My soul is overwhelmed with grief, to the point of death"
Matt. 26:47 — Betrayed by Judas
Matt. 26:56 — Abandoned by His disciples
Matt. 26:60 — Slandered by false witnesses
Matt. 26:67 — Spat upon, punched with fists, slapped in face
Matt. 26:69-74 — Peter denies Him three times
Matt. 27:26 — He was flogged (whipped)
Matt. 27:27-28 — stripped and mocked by the Roman guards
Matt. 27:29 — crown of thorns and mocked
Matt. 27:30 — they spat on Jesus and beat him with the reed “scepter”
Matt. 27:31 — took Him away and crucified Him

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 15:18-21
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.

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 16:6-7

“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

Returning:

“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
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.
“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 17:26-37
Though Jesus is no longer physically with us, the promise of His return is an article of faith for every disciple. Jesus made it clear, both here and many other places, that He was coming back. In fact, when Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels spoke to His disciples and promised that He would return.
...and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” —Acts 1:11
One question that comes up regarding this passage is whether it is referring to the Rapture (Jesus returning in the air to take up all living and dead believers to be with Him) or to His Second Coming to establish His millennial kingdom on earth. The basic order of events will be:
  1. Jesus returns in the air and calls all believers, living and dead, to Himself; He then returns to heaven without ever actually touching the earth.
  2. The Tribulation then follows — a seven-year period marked by the rise of Satanic powers and great human suffering, especially for those who decide to follow Christ during that time.
  3. At the end of this seven-year period, Jesus then returns to earth with all His saints (believers) and angels to defeat Satan and His forces and establish His rule on earth for a thousand years.
  4. After the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan will lead one final rebellion against the Lord which will be crushed (Battle of Armageddon).
  5. The final judgments of Satan, his demons and all those without Christ will then occur. After this, the present heaven and earth will be destroyed and a new heaven and a new earth created which are completely free from all sin and sinful influences.
Whether this passage is speaking of #1 or #3, two facts are very clear:

Jesus uses two Old Testament events in which God brought a great judgment on people:

What do you think Jesus wants us to learn from comparing His return to the days of Noah? The days of Lot? In both cases, the vast majority of people were totally unprepared for the judgment of God. The same is true today. Most people, even most Christians, live as if they think they will never have to give account to God for their lives. There is no preparation — we just eat and drink, marry, buy and sell, plant and build.

If Jesus returned today, would you be ready?

Don’t be like the people in Noah’s time who watched Noah build the ark for hundreds of  years and yet never believed they would be judged. Don’t be like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who thought they could do whatever they pleased and not have to answer to God.

Make sure you stay ready — keep your bags packed! Deal quickly with sin in your life; keep a strong Quiet Time; make decisions in light of kingdom realities.

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. —1 John 2:28