The Kingdom of God is Jesus Christ, and his reign over his people.
Luke 17:20-37 – Focus on verses 20 & 21
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.’
Verses 20 & 21 sound strange. The kingdom is not something you can see. Unlike the kingdoms of the world there is none of the pomp we would usually observe. In fact, there is nothing to see because it is within Christians. Quite simply it is the rule of King Jesus over his people.
Jesus is speaking against the popular notions about the kingdom of God which persist even today. Some think it will be manifested by Christians dominating the world. Others think more in terms of the end of history, the second coming of Christ and a millennial reign on earth. The expectation is of something that is spectacular and powerful in the usual way that people think of the powerful. Jesus is saying that we should ignore all such notions and think in terms of Jesus as he manifested himself in this world. He did not overpower authorities in any expected way. He raised no normal army. He wasn’t raised to power by popular acclaim. He was the suffering servant who gave himself as a ransom for his people.
The history behind it is that God’s kingdom existed in the Garden of Eden. Adam (our representative) and Eve enjoyed a right relationship with God and lived for a short time as his people. When they disobeyed God the kingdom of this world commenced in defiance of God. God promised to re-establish his kingdom. The Old Testament provides promises of the coming King (the new representative) and his kingdom. It also illustrates in many ways what that Kingdom will be like. It is then established by Jesus as the great King who has obeyed for us. We are reconciled to our God because Jesus has taken upon himself the anger of God against our sin when he died on the cross.
So how is the kingdom in our “midst”? When we come to faith, we submit to King Jesus. We entrust our lives to him. Because we have union with Christ, we are now the forgiven reconciled subjects of the kingdom. We are also the accepted and loved ones because the perfection of Jesus is ours as a gift. We serve him out of love. At the depths of our being lies the King’s reign over our life.
Head: Come to grips with the reality that you are in the Kingdom of God because you are a beloved subject of King Jesus. You enjoy all the benefits of the Kingdom. Outwardly you will be a lot like everybody else.
Heart: At the very depths of your being you are loved and forgiven, which calls for love and gratitude to God.
Hands: Subjects are ruled by their King. How do you show in your actions that you are out of step with the rest of world because you follow King Jesus?
Prayer: Father forgive me that I often forget that I belong to your kingdom under King Jesus. Help me to know how blessed I am and to express that thanks by the way I live. In Jesus name. Amen.
A song to listen to: You Are My King
Living Church – Creek Road