Luke 17:20-37

 

Tonight we are going to be taken a close look at what Jesus was talking about in Luke 17:20 ff. When I first started preparing this lesson it started out being about Lotís wife but, as started examining the context of this text I discovered that there is great amount of confusion on what is being talked about in this passage and I can understand why. Before I go into any more details let begin by reading the text so that you can began to think about what is being said,

 

Luke 17:20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."22 Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.23 "And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them.24 "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.25 "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.26 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:27 "They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;29 "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.30 "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.31 "In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.32 "Remember Lot's wife.33 "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.34 "I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.35 "Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.36 "Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left."37 And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?" So He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

 

What I discovered about this section of scripture is that there are 2 different thoughts on what is being talked about here. 1. Some believe that Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. 2. Others believe that Jesus is talking about his second coming. I can understand why this text can be confusing because parts of it uses similar language that Matthew 24 does where Jesus is describing what will happen during the destruction of Jerusalem. This is also known as the Olivet discourse. We also find that part of our textuses similar language that Jesus used in Mat. 24 when describing his 2nd coming and final judgment.

 

Now we know that both of these answers cannot be correct and so what I want to do is show you how I choose which view I believe to be correct and hopefully if I do my job correctly all of you will be able see that that solution I came up with is the most logical one. The choice I made is that this text is talking about Jesus second coming.

 

The first thing I want to point out is that just because Luke 17 uses similar language as the Olivet discourse does it does not mean that it is talking about the same event or time. We have many examples in the Bible where God uses similar language to describe destruction, but that destruction is used in regards to different people, events and time. For example: notice the following 3 verses.

 

Isaiah 13:10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. See Isa. 13:19-20

 

Isaiah is using this vivid language to prophecy ofthe downfall of Babylon

 

Ezekiel 32:7 When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give her light.8 All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,' Says the Lord GOD.

 

Ezekiel use similar language to prophecy about the downfall of Egypt.

 

Matthew 24:29 " Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

 

Jesus uses this same language to prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem. All 3 of these events are completely different yet they all speak of destruction. We could also show how God speaks of Egyptís destruction as God riding on a cloud in Isa. 19: 1-2 and Jesus is also shown as riding on cloud in Mat. 24:30 which talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

So, the whole point is this, just because we find some similar language in Luke 17 and Mat. 24 this does not mean that they are talking about the same destruction and so we must look very carefully at the context of Luke 17 to see what it is talking about. To further show that Luke 17 needs to be treated separately from the Olivet discourse found in Matt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is the fact the when Jesus spoke the words in Luke 17 it was not part of the Olivet discourse in fact he wasnít even in Jerusalem at this time. When you look at Luke 17:11 and Luke 18:35 you can see that he was heading to Jerusalem but when he spoke these words to his disciples he was somewhere between Samaria and Jericho.

 

So not only is this spoken at a different time and place there is nothing in the text that speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem. With that being said lets now begin to take a close look at the context of verses in Luke 17.

 

Luke 17:20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."

 

When we look back in scripture we can see that John Baptist began preaching the kingdom was coming and then when Jesus began his ministry he and disciples started preaching the same message and now these Pharisees want to know when will the kingdom come? We need to realize that many of the Jews thought that when the Messiah came that he would restore the nation back to the Jews with a physical kingdom just like they had under King David. But, they had the wrong concept of what the kingdom was going to be like and Jesus corrects them and lets them know that the kingdom does not come with observation.

 

In the Jews mind they could see God raising up a might army that would destroy all their enemies just like it was in the time of David. This would be something they could see happening before their eyes but Jesus makes it clear that you can not see the kingdom of God coming in this way and the reason why is because the kingdom is spiritual in nature. That is why Jesus told Pilate,

 

John 18:36 "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

 

We all know that spiritual kingdom began on the day of Pentecost which is the church. These terms kingdom and church are used synonymously in Mat. 16:18-19. So, just as Jesus has stated the kingdom did not come about by warfare that could be observed instead it started by the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles and them proclaiming Godís word. Jesus also shows that the kingdom is spiritual in nature is saying that the kingdom of God is within you or some translation say with in your midst. Now that Jesus has answered this question he now began talking to his disciples.

 

Luke 17:22 Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.23 "And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them.24 "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.

 

Jesus on several occasion had told his disciples that he wouldnít be around for very long because he must die and be raised again but they didnít really ever let this teaching sink in. Once again we find Jesus letting them know that he is going to be gone and that they will desire to see another day where Jesus is personally present in their lives but he lets them know that they will not see it. This is certainly a hint that Jesus would not come back again before they died.

 

This is another reason why I can see that this text is talking about the second coming of Christ because if this were talking about the destruction of Jerusalem then it should follow that all the apostles would be dead before the destruction of Jerusalem and that simply is not the case.

 

Then in verse 23 Jesus gives them a similar warning that he gave them in Mat. 24 and that is donít believe anyone when they Jesus is over here or over there because it will not be him because when Jesus comes again it will be as visible as lightening is from the east to the west. Many other passages bear this out as well.

 

Jesus will come personally and visibly

Acts 1:11 Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

 

He will come with a shout

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

 

Even those in the grave will hear him

John 5:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

 

He will be accompanied with angels

Matthew 25:31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

 

Even though scripture tells us Jesus will come like a thief in the night we can see from the other verses that everyone will know when he does come we just donít know when he will come.

 

Luke 17:25"But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

 

Before any of these events occur Jesus must suffer the cruelty of the cross and be raised from the dead. Just as Jesus has predicted here he did suffer many things and he was rejected by his generation which led to his death on the cross. Now please notice that there is nothing in verse that indicate that Jesus is talking about these events occurring in their life time and nothing indicates that he is talking about a local judgment onJerusalem.

 

Luke 17:26 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:27 "They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;29 "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.30 "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

 

You can also see this example if Noah used in Mat. 24 when it is talking about the day the Jesus will come when he judges the whole world. So all Jesus is saying here that life will be going on as normal, everyone will be eating and marrying but when Jesus comes back again on a day he will be revealed. Both of these examples show us complete destruction and that it will happen when no one is expecting it. Again this shows me that Jesus is talking about his 2nd and finally coming because people could see the signs of that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed and in fact this was slow process that took years because the Jews and Romans began to fight one another in 66 A.D. and it wasnít until 70 A.D. that they broke through and completely destroyed the temple and Jerusalem.

 

So these examples fit perfectly with the second coming of Christ as Peter tells us,

 

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

 

So in one day all this will happen when no one is expecting it.

 

Luke 17:31 "In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.32 "Remember Lot's wife.33 "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

This is another section of scripture that can be very confusing on the surface because in Mat. 24 when Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and he is giving signs that his disciples can look for so they can escape he uses some of the same language as used here in our text. However, the difference is that in the Olivet discourse Jesus tells them flee to the mountain for safety when they see the army surrounding Jerusalem but nothing in our text Luke 17 saying anything about fleeing and the reason why is because when Jesus comes again there will be no where to hide and so we must try and figure out what was Jesus teaching.

 

All I believe that Jesus is trying to covey is that of being prepared and not turning away from God because if you are not prepared when Jesus comes again then you will not make it into heaven. This thought is also brought out when Jesus says remember Lots wife. If you remember God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the angles commanded Lot and his family to flee the city and not to look back. But, Lots wife disregarded this command because we find out that she did look back and because of this she did not live. This concept is taught over and over in the Bible that we must prepared to meet our God by living a faithful life. Jesus put this way in,

 

Luke 9:62"No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

Friends we must always keep our eyes on the goal of heaven and not allow material possession or anything else to come between us and God. Now if you are still not fully convinced that these verse are not talking about the destruction of Jerusalem notice,

 

33 "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

Now I want you to think about this verse very carefully because when Jesus was telling his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem in Matt. 24 he gave them the signs to look for so that they would know when to flee for their life and history tells us that not 1 Christian died during the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Now if these verses are talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, then how in the world are you going to explain verse 33 which says whoever seeks to save his life will lose it? This would be a contradiction because Jesus is saying, ď run, save your lifeĒ and this verse is saying if you seek to save your life then you will lose it.

 

It doesnít get much clearly than that. There is no way this can be talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. However this passage goes perfectly with what I just said about be prepared to meet your lord. Jesus has made this statement several times throughout his ministry and I think the best way to explain what he meant by this is by allowing Jesus himself to explain it,

 

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. ††

 

Again Jesus is saying exactly what I just said. Those that try to fulfill their own lives with worldly possessions or concepts will lose their life and will not make it to heaven. But those who are willing to serve God faithfully even if they lose their life it will be saved because they will find themselves in heaven.

 

Luke 17:34 "I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.35 "Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.36 "Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left."

 

Now depending on your Bible version you may not have verse 36 because this verse is missing from many of the originally manuscripts but it is teaching the same thing as the previous 2 verses. These verses once again have Jesus second coming written all over them and the reason why is because we have both day and night represented here. The men are in bed which happened at night time and the women our working in the field which occurred during the day time. So, when the event happens described in Luke 17 it will happen both at day and night and from this we get the idea that this will happen world wide because while it is day here Oklahoma is night time other parts of the world.

 

All these example are illustrating is that there will be a separation from the prepared and the unprepared. The one that are taken represent the Christians that will meet Jesus in the air when he comes back again,

 

1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

The ones left behind represent the sinner who face the wrath of God and will be cast in to hell for eternity. This same separation is spoken of in Mat. 25:31ff. Again, I cannot see how you can even close to saying this is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. Now lets look at our final verse.

 

Luke 17:37 And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?" So He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

 

Jesusí disciples donít seem to understand where this would happen so this why they as where and Jesus does not give them a specific place but simply uses these phrase Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.". This is phrase that could be used to show destruction. Now the word eagle can also be translated vulture and many believe this is better word to use because a eagle likes to kill it food but a vulture is always on the look out for a dead body that it may devour. So this phrase can be used in any context where destruction will occur and Jesus is using it here to show that the destruction that he speaks of will be universal and not a specific place and in then context the dead bodies represent those who are unprepared to meet God.

 

As we come to the close of our lesson I hope you have learned that just because similar language is used in different parts of the Bible is doesnít always mean that the same event is under consideration. I also hope you have been able to see why this section scripture is talking about Jesus second coming and not the destruction of Jerusalem. Finally I hope you have learned the over all message from the scriptures and that is we need to make sure that we are prepared to meet our God at anytime and that we should not allow anything to come between us and him.