22Then 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. 23Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. 24For 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. 25But 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. 27People 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. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32Remember Lot's wife! 33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain 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."
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "
6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (NIV)
A. God’s coming rule has, in a sense, already arrived; for it has appeared in Jesus and is also found in the hearts of those following Him.
20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
The Pharisees wanted signs that would make the kingdom of God easily seen. This desire approaches the kind of spiritual adultery Christ condemned elsewhere in the Gospel according to Matthew: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign….” (Mt 12:39; 16:4)
“kingdom of God is within you” – better translated as “in the midst of you” (ESV). Many a practicioner of Eastern religions, or “New Age” spirituality, have taken the typical rendering to justify the idea of divinity being found within human beings (just as everything else).
Reflection questions: Do we believe and rejoice in the fact that God’s kingdom is growing, no matter how things may seem – through our observations – to be otherwise?
Do we appreciate the fact that God is most often at work in quiet, non-obvious ways? Or do we tend to view His activity as if it needed to be some kind of spectacle?
B. While God’s coming rule is growing in a way that can’t easily be seen, its consummation will be unmistakably obvious to all when Christ returns.
23Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. 24For 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.
Reflection questions: Do we have a tendency to speculate over the time of Christ’s return, as some Christians have been prone to do in the past and present? Or are we developing an alertness (of heart as well as mind) that anticipates His return at any time?
C. Christ’s rejection and death is a necessary part of God’s plan of redemption.
25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Reflection question: Do we appreciate how central the cross is to what God has achieved for us through Christ?
D. When Christ returns, many people will be caught off-guard, because the world will seem to be carrying on the same way as usual.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man….. people were eating, drinking, marrying….It was the same in the days of Lot…..
Peter speaks of a skeptical attitude that will characterize unbelievers just before Jesus’ second coming, because of the apparent normalcy of life: “They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:4)
Reflection question: How can we make sure that we don’t find ourselves harbouring the same attitude as those whom Peter speaks of?
E. As part of their readiness for Christ’s return, disciples of Christ should be prepared to part with the things of this world at any time.
On that day, no one…should go down….no one…should go back…remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
The tragedy of Lot’s wife was that she “looked back”, i.e. she had a greater longing for the things of the world than for the things of God; as a result she experienced God’s judgment by being turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19: 17, 26).
”For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Tim 6:7)
”Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn 2:15-17)
Reflection question: What are the ways in which we may still love the world more than God? How can we work – as God gives us the grace - to combat this idolatry?
“Where the corpse is, the vultures will gather” (v. 37) – “It seems best not to “over-interpret” this striking proverbial expression. It probably means simply that, just as people from far away can see vultures circling high in the air, Christ's return in judgment will be visible and predictable. A similar view is that the vultures suggest the widespread death that will accompany the return of Christ to judge those who have rejected his kingdom. In either case, it will be impossible for people not to see and recognize the return of Christ.” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1994)
F. If an unjust judge can hear and respond to a widow’s unrelenting pleadings for justice, how much more will the just God hear and answer the unrelenting prayers of His children.
“….they should always pray and not give up.”
”will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”
Some sensitive Christians might believe that the only “justice” they should receive from God is being thrown into hell, since that is truly what they deserve – not mercy. But because Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and has therefore reconciled us with God, so that we are His children, it is – in a sense, at least – “just” for Him to do good to them. Recall 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Recall how the LORD welcomed and accepted Abraham’s constant “nagging” for Him to spare any righteous people that might be found in Sodom (Gen 18:16-33).
Reflection question: Do we keep persevering in prayer towards God for the things that we need, even when His answer and/or provision doesn’t seem to be forthcoming? Have we thanked Him when He finally has answered?
“will he find faith on earth?” “The answer, of course, is “yes,” but Jesus poses this as a question in order to encourage his disciples to constant watchfulness and prayer. When he returns, Jesus will be looking for those who are praying and watching for him.” (ESVSB, p. 1994).