Devotion for Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Luke 17:20-37 Dr. Brian Homan, pastor
20 Once, 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, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” 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 Men 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 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. 31 On 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. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his 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 grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. — NIV
We now switch to a totally different subject matter than yesterday’s readings. Tuesday’s reading pertained to hos we are to respond to others who disappoint us and repeatedly fail to grow in righteousness. We are to be committed and invested in nurturing the fledgling faith of others, even those who persistently disappoint us by their continued failure despite the patience and help we offer. Jesus instructs us to continue our support, forgive, and be am example of the love and patience of God as we ourselves have depended upon. We may be surprised how and when the seed of faith we plant will take root.
The last thing Jesus adds that I did not address is the story of the ten lepers. All ten were healed by Jesus and only one returned to offer thanks. Likewise, in our dealings with discipling others we too may find we shall not receive the thanks we think we deserve for all the care and investment we have made in people’s lives. To focus on the response we are given only places us in the center of our giving and serving when it is always to be about Jesus and others. Though Jesus never teaches this I still believe it is so – God knows, sees what we do in secret and is grateful for our sacrifice and faithfulness.
Now to today’s reading, as I said the topic turns from what we looked at both Monday and Tuesday. Jesus now turns to the subject of what God is doing in the world. We may with earnest look to find evidence of God’s intervention in the world. Many will lose faith because they see only the predominance of evil. They want more evidence of God’s control. Jesus reminds them that “a watched pot never boils.” God has his timing and is active in guiding the world towards its ultimate redemption, yet we may never see fully how God is working behind the scenes of human history.
Jesus reminds us that the “kingdom of God is within us.” Our faith should not depend upon the outward evidence of our team winning over the team of rebellion against God and the advancement of evil. The assurance we are given is what we know God has done in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit we possess in spite of the frustrations we may see by reading the news and focusing on the state of affairs in the world. Whatever takes place around us should be a matter of prayer and a call to service and witness. We know what our marching orders are – serve others for Jesus and make disciples until Jesus returns.
Jesus shares with his disciples at the time to expect life to go on absorbed with the normal routines we have come to expect in daily life. There is a danger to us if we simply place our faith and the promise of Christ’s return to rule aside on the shelf of our lives as something we believe but ignore. Jesus draws from the experience in history where God intervened suddenly and unexpectedly, as in the days of Noah and Lot. People were carrying on business as usual, ignoring the promise of God’s intervention by failing to live righteously. It was as though unexpected despite the warning given that God intervened in human affairs. So it will be at the time of Christ’s coming.
Why is this so? It is because God is in control. If we should the details we would then attempt to control the events around us making our knowledge and efforts the center of our activity. If, however, we trust God and serve God’s purposes in faith, God remains the center focus and sin and evil lessens its grip on our lives. It we were to know the details we would try to save our lives, Jesus says. The saving to which Jesus refers is not the intensification of our spiritual devotion, but the stuff of this life we want to keep. Walking in faith means the stuff of this life loses its hold on us. All that we might cherish here in this world will not go with us into the next in the way that we think. Our allegiance to God means that we trust God who make the beautiful and good in life in the first place and resting assured that the most important and meaningful God will provide outside the known of this temporal world. We trust the best is yet to come.
As I say goodbye to a spiritual mentor today, the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham who died at the age of 99, I am reminded of what he always held forth and which I have taken to heart as my own. Dr. Graham always referred to the sentiment of an old Gospel hymn that proclaims, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” I fight with myself over the grip the concerns of this life has upon me. In my best days I can free myself and truly know the peace that the apostle Paul describes, one that surpasses all human understanding. I want God to be in control. I chose for him to be so today.