20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”
22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won’t see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes. 25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation. 26 When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business — eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building — 29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! 33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. 34 That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.”
37 “Where will this happen, Lord?” the disciples asked.
Jesus replied, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”
By now, Luke has taught us that the Pharisees aren’t asking serious questions. They ask, not to understand, but to judge. Such is the case here. Jesus has been saying for quite some time that the kingdom of God is here, it is now, it has come among us with his coming. By asking when it will come, the Pharisees are rejecting Jesus’ claim. The answer Jesus gives teaches both sides of what we have come to call the already/not yet. The first thing Jesus does is rebuke all approaches that focus on seeking and reading special signs. The only signs of the already of the kingdom are people being healed, delivered from demons, raised from the dead, and empowered by the Spirit to do the first three. Jesus rejects everything else with what he says in verses 20 and 21. People who run around all over the place looking for special signs miss the kingdom of God that has come right among and in them. The kingdom is already here.
But that does not mean we are at the end of all time. Starting in verse 22, Jesus makes it clear that we will know when the end of time is here. This is not the same as the kingdom coming now, it is the kingdom coming in all its fullness and the end of all things. It is the not yet of the kingdom. You won’t have to guess when that arrives. It will be quite obvious to everyone.
So what are we to do? Keep doing the work of the kingdom. Keep praying for the sick to be healed. Keep loving the poor. Keep speaking deliverance and wholeness into people’s lives. Keep raising the dead. Keep bringing justice into reality. Keep being filled with the Holy Spirit. Keep laying hands on people so they can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Keep enacting the reversal Luke has been teaching us about. Keep doing all that Jesus taught us and modeled for us. It isn’t always as fun and exciting as running after the latest signs. Often it is quite a grind. Kingdom work is hard work. Like all hard work, it is very rewarding and produces actual results. But it is still hard work. Don’t run around playing with spiritual things and think you are advancing the kingdom. Do the work of a disciple. Do the hard work of the kingdom. There is no harder call. There is no higher call.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.