Jesus reminds us of judgement – instead of being complacent, let’s be keen to choose his kingdom.
Luke 17:20-37 – Focus on verses 26 to 30
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’
22 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. 23 People will tell you, “There he is!” or “Here he is!” Do not go running off after them. 24 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. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
26 ‘Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 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.
28 ‘It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 ‘It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife!33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken and the other left.’
37 ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked.
He replied, ‘Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.’
We’ve all had that experience where life is ticking along and something truly shocking happens. I remember living in the US many years ago, each day going to work or church, and hanging out with the family. And then one morning our neighbours came urgently banging on the door, “Turn on the TV! Pakistan is attacking America!” Of course, that wasn’t quite right, but in those first moments of fear and confusion on September 11, 2001, all that we knew was that something momentous and terrible was happening. Whether it’s a horror that shakes society or an event that slams us personally, the shocks of life come crashing in sooner or later.
Here, Jesus warns his listeners of the biggest shock of all – if we don’t listen to him. God’s judgement is coming, and it will be swift and terrible. Jesus was warning them, and us, not to be complacent, reminding his disciples of the times that God has judged swiftly in the history of Israel. Calamity came to those who lived life entirely in the present or clung onto the things of this world. Could that describe us?
But these warnings are tempered by Jesus’ mention of the kingdom of God. Instead of giving our allegiance to this world, we can accept the offer to come into God’s kingdom – God’s family – which is already amongst us. Jesus has brought it in and invited us to come and make a home there.
Head: How does verse 25 point to the way out of judgement and into God’s kingdom?
Heart: How are you going with keeping your eyes on Jesus and God’s kingdom? Or do the daily events and lovely things of this world capture your attention?
Hands: What can you do this week to prioritise living in God’s kingdom over your attachment to the world?
Prayer: Father, we acknowledge that we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives and act as if things will stay this way forever. We get on with what we have to do today, sometimes without even thinking of you. Please help us to clearly see the eternal picture: your kingdom, which we can enter by Jesus, versus fearsome judgement. Please help us to let this shape our lives for your sake, for ourselves, and for others around us. Amen.
A song to listen to: Only a Holy God
Living Church – Creek Road