Menu

Until Kingdom Come

Jesus may be physically gone from earth but we don’t have to wait for the coming of the Kingdom. It’s already here. The Kingdom never left.

Advent is less than two weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited.

The season of Advent (adventus is Latin for “coming” or “arrival”) is the four weeks leading to Christmas where we prepare for the coming of Jesus.

I so much look forward to the Advent season of waiting that I’m currently waiting for that waiting. It’s human nature to look forward to the next thing. It could be something we’re excited about, like a birthday or vacation. It could be something we dread, like death.

I’ve encountered many conversations and questions about death: “How do you want to go?” “How old do you think you’ll be when you die?” “Where do you want to be when you die?”

Why do we so often think and worry about death? Why do we so anxiously look forward to the next thing? Because we want to be ready. We want to be prepared. We don’t want to be caught off guard.

During Advent, we wait for two comings.

We first anticipate the coming of Christ the baby; the promised Messiah. The Old Testament is full of prophecies pointing to this arrival. People waited a long time for their Savior, and in the baby born to Mary and Joseph, they found him.

Second, Advent is a time when we anticipate Christ coming back again (the parousia). This second arrival is our current period of waiting and is also the subject of Luke 17:20-37.

Luke 17:20-37 is another tale of anxiously worrying about what’s to come. Specifically, the concern is about when Jesus will come back. Everyone wants to be ready for the moment, but Jesus provides no specific answers.

Let’s join the conversation Jesus has with his disciples in v.22-37.

Jesus foreshadows his imminent second coming. No one knows when or where that return will be, and that’s just how Jesus likes it.

Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to get caught up in prophecies or predictions of when the return might be (v.23). He wants the disciples to realize that his intentional plan is for everyone to be caught off guard, just like those who laughed at Noah as he built his big, ridiculous boat before being swept away by the flood (v.26-27) or those who were consumed by fire in the city of Sodom after Lot left (v.28-29). When asked “Where, Lord?” (v.37) Jesus continues his vague talk through use of a proverb about vultures and carcasses to say, “I’ll return when I’m good and ready”.

But when Jesus does come back, we’ll know. Oh boy, will we know. Because we can’t miss the lightning in the night sky (v.24). As one commentator says, “No one will foresee it, but everyone will see it.”

Well if Jesus isn’t going to let us in on his little secret, then what are we to do? How can we prepare for his return if we don’t know when or where it will be?

The answer is easy to say, but hard to do:

Be ready. Always.

That means we shouldn’t be concerned with the time or place of Jesus’ return. We should be concerned with living out our faith today. Right now. Every moment. If we are truly living lives in pursuit of Jesus, then it doesn’t matter when Jesus is coming back.

Besides, I would suggest that if I’m not already living as though Jesus could come back at any moment, knowledge of the exact details aren’t going to modify my behavior either.

Everything else aside, I have great news for us:

Jesus may be physically gone from earth but we don’t have to wait for the coming of the Kingdom. It’s already here. The Kingdom never left.

Coming back around to the beginning of our text, Luke 17:20-21, Jesus says to the Pharisees, “I’m right here. The kingdom is here. I am God among you. All of it is available to you right now.” And yet they don’t get it.

Everything that follows in v.22-37 is answered in these first two verses. “You all want to know when and where I’m coming back? I’m right in front of you. I AM the Kingdom. You’re already trying to figure out when I’m coming back and I haven’t even left yet. But when I do eventually leave, the Kingdom isn’t going anywhere because I will leave a piece of me within each of you (Acts 1:6-8) that the Kingdom may dwell within you.”

So church, hear me: Jesus will come back one day. It could be tomorrow. It could be 1,000 years from now. We don’t know. The good news is that we don’t need to know because the kingdom is already here among us.

And by the way, if you’re always ready you don’t have to get ready.

Share This Blog Post:

Send this to a friend