Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’ Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. 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 endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.’ Then they asked him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.’
This passage does not appear in the three-year Lectionary at all. It is interesting to consider why for a few moments, especially when the subject matter is Jesus talking about the Kingdom and its coming.
Jesus begins by explaining that the Kingdom isn’t a material thing that can be seen, but that doesn’t stop the Kingdom being tangible because it is around and among us through the way people are. I know that this might seem wishy-washy but think of it like this; it is the difference between a “Sunday Christian” and “Jesus Follower”. A “Sunday Christian” might dress nicely for worship and make a big noise about going to church but leaves the teaching and Jesus following inside the building, but a “Jesus Follower” will use the hour – two hours on a Sunday to recharge and renew their batteries for the week ahead where they live their faith and follow Jesus through their deeds in the local and wider community. Jesus doesn’t mince his words when he speaks about the end times, he states EVERYONE will know when it happens, that believers and nonbelievers will all see/know that Jesus has returned, that only some will be taken, which implies that those not taken are left behind. The interesting part is that Jesus doesn’t say who will be taken, it is grace that saves us and because of that grace we get to be a part of the now and not yet of the Kingdom through our works in the world.
Maybe the Lectionary cuts this part of Luke because it reminds us that nothing is for sure and we have to trust and believe, and in many ways that can be the most difficult part of faith.
Eternal God, there are many things that we struggle to comprehend about you; enable us to have faith and trust even though we don’t understand. Challenge us to live lives that reflect the grace you have given us demonstrating the now, and not yet, of the Kingdom. Amen.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott is a Church Related Community Worker.
St. Andrew's United Reformed Church - The United Reformed Church in Monkseaton and Whitley Bay
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