THE LIFE OF CHRIST

PART 68

 

In our last lesson, we examined John 11, which mainly had to do with the Lazrus dying and be raised back to life after being dead for 4 days. In this lesson, we are going to pick back up where we left off in Luke 17. So, letís begin with:

 

Luke 17:11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?18 "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."

 

I could preach an entire lesson based on these verses, but I spend most of my time of the remainder of Luke. Most agree that John 11, that we looked at last week, fits in between verses 10 and 11. Jesus is making His way back towards Jerusalem and He enters a certain village and encounters 10 leapers. Due to their disease, these men would be isolated from society and from others who were sick from other things (Lev. 13:46; Num. 5:2-3). Though Samaritans and Jews would not socialize normally, their disease has brought them together.

 

These men had heard about Jesus and asked Him to have mercy on them. Now, Jesus does not heal them immediately, but tells them to go present them to the priest. They had to have faith that something was going to change as they went to the priests. Sure enough, they were healed. Now, you would think they would all come back and thank God like the Samaritan did, but they did not. 9 of these men were unthankful for their blessing just as many are today. However, the Samaritan is a great example for us all to not take the blessings we receive from God for granted. Instead, we should be thankful for them all. Thanks to their healing, they would be able to rejoin their society once again (Lev. 13:1-6; 14:1-32). So, lets us learn from this example to always to be thankful for all that God does for us in this life and especially for allowing us to be His children and for allowing us to be able to make heaven our home for eternity.

 

The reason I want to focus most of my attention on the remainder of this chapter is because there is a 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, letís begin by reading the text so that you can begin 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.

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 to that of Matthew 24 where Jesus is describing what will happen during the destruction of Jerusalem, which is 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. 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 Jesusí second coming.

 

The first thing I want to point out is that just because Luke 17 uses similar language as the Olivet discourse, 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 foretell the 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 uses similar language to foretell 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 is riding on a cloud in Isa. 19: 1-2, and Jesus is also shown as riding on a cloud in Mat. 24:30, which is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

So, the whole point is this, just because we find some similar language in Luke 17 and Mt. 24, it does not mean that they are talking about the same destruction. 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 Mt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is the fact that 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 and 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, letís 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 when Jesus began His ministry, He and His disciples started preaching the same message. So, 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 Jewís mind, they could see God raising up a mighty 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 cannot see the kingdom of God coming in this way and the reason is because the kingdom is spiritual in nature, which 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 the spiritual kingdom began on the day of Pentecost, which is the church. These terms Ďkingdomí and Ďchurchí 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 by saying that the kingdom of God is within you or as some translation say, within your midst. Now that Jesus has answered this question, He now begins 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.

 

On several occasions, Jesus 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 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 say 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 accompaniedangels

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 these other verses that everyone will know when He does come, but 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, He did suffer many things and was rejected by his generation which led to his death on the cross. Now please notice that there is nothing in this verse that indicates Jesus is talking about these events occurring in their lifetime and nothing indicates that He is talking about a local judgment on Jerusalem.

 

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 of Noah being used in Mat. 24 when it is talking about the day Jesus will come back and judge the whole world. So all Jesus is saying here is 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 that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, and in fact, this was a 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 of 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 to flee to the mountain for safety when they see the army surrounding Jerusalem, but nothing in our text in Luke 17 says anything about fleeing, and the reason is because when Jesus comes again, there will be nowhere to hide. So, we must try and figure out what Jesus was teaching.

 

All Jesus is trying to convey is to be prepared and not to turn 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 Lotís wife. If you remember God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and the angels commanded Lot and his family to flee the city and not to look back. But, Lotís wife disregarded this command and she looked back. Her disobedience cost her her life. This concept of being prepared is taught over and over in the Bible. 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 verses 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 lives, 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 clearer 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 who try to fulfill their own lives with worldly possessions or concepts will lose their lives and will not make it to heaven. But those who are willing to serve God faithfully, even if they lose their lives, 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."

 

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

 

All these examples are illustrating that there will be a separation from the prepared and the unprepared. The ones who are taken represents the Christians who 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 sinners who will face the wrath of God and will be cast into hell for eternity. This same separation is spoken of in Mat. 25:31ff. Again, I cannot see how you can even come close to saying that this is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. Now letís 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 is why they ask where, but Jesus does not give them a specific place, He simply uses this phrase Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.". This is a phrase that could be used to show destruction. Now the word eagle can also be translated vulture and many believe this is a better word to use because an eagle likes to kill its 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 the body in this context represents 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, it doesnít always mean that the same event is under consideration. I also hope you have been able to see why this section of Scripture is talking about Jesusí second coming and not the destruction of Jerusalem. Finally, I hope you have learned that the overall message from the Scriptures is that we need to make sure that we are prepared to meet our God at any time and that we should not allow anything to come between us and Him. Finally, I hope you learned from the beginning of our lesson the importance of being thankful to God for all that He does for us.