Journal Luke 17 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or “There!’, for behold—the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look…there!’ or ‘Look…here!!’
Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his Day. But first…. he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.’” Luke 17:20-25
Observation: The Lord’s return; the End of Days…always the same question, always the same answer: “Yes, I am coming back. Be aware of that fact and don’t pay much mind to it. I don’t know the time, and neither will you. We’ll both be surprised!”
Analysis: Well, kind of, sort of, anyway. The message of Jesus’ return isn’t that ambiguous—it is just not what we want it to be.
Pursuing Him is a marathon. Most I have ever run is 5 miles—as a teenager, long, long time ago. Lungs wheezing like a bellows not even a couple of miles in. After a while, I couldn’t do anything but focus on the next step, the next curve, the guy in front of me, also singularly focused on the run.
I would finish when I finished, when the coach at the finish line yelled, “Keep it up, finish strong, head up, BREATHE!!” and then in a few more steps, it was “Great, you did great!!, Way to finish strong.” Kind of sounds like “Well done, good and faithful servant” now that I think about it.
So, I know some facts about a marathon: It has a starting line; it has a finish line. Races have racers—people who actually compete. Marathons are not about speed or strength; they are about finishing.
That’s where the Pharisees get off track. They see the coming of the Kingdom of God as an event to be witnessed passively. And Jesus corrects them saying, “it is in the midst of you”, something perhaps to engage in now.
Jesus continues to tell the Disciples (not the Pharisees? Hummm…) that they may fall into the same trap of wanting to perhaps passively see the Son of Man in His Day. I don’t quite get that. But one thing I do get is the next statement: “Do not go out; do not follow them.”
This is where the marathon metaphor comes into play. When there is a person that crosses the finish line, the race doesn’t stop for the rest of the runners. It is like that for believers. “The Kingdom is coming!” Yes, I know, but I still have a race to run—I want to finish strong and NOT BE DISTRACTED.
That is what I think Jesus is saying to the Disciples: Don’t be distracted. Yes, I am returning. But there are a lot of things that will occur in parallel with my Coming. You, beloved, keep running in my Name.
Prayer: Father, the King is Coming! Yes! Come Lord Jesus and that soon.
Until then, help me to focus on the race and finish strong. AMEN