YOUR KINGDOM COME – GOD’S KINGDOM: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – Luke 17:20-21 ESV, John Cautero, Teaching Team

YOUR KINGDOM COME MAY 26, 2024

MESSAGE TITLE: 

GOD’S KINGDOM: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

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Let the Cross be a reminder of the gift that Christ gave us. Let the Cross inspire us to live as Jesus lived.

WHAT BETTER WAY TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO THE ONE WHO GRANTED THE GIFTS AND BLESSINGS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

You’ve got voices pulling you in all different directions. There’s only one voice that matters. 

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The text today is Luke 17:20-21, and the title of this message is GOD’S KINGDOM: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

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Luke 17:20-21 provides profound insights into the nature of God’s Kingdom and its presence among us. 

LUKE 17:20-21

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 

21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

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Let’s look at the context and its significance:

In this passage, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about when the kingdom of God would come (v. 20). It’s important to note that the Pharisees held a particular perspective often associated with the restoration the sovereignty of Israel.  Here, the words, “signs to be observed,” or “observation” Jesus speaks are best translated to (paratērēseōs) “hostile examination.” Jesus said the Kingdom of God would not be coming as they believed.  There would be no military power to rout the Romans.  The implication is that the Kingdom of God would come silently.  Jesus is essentially stating that God’s Kingdom has already begun without the Pharisees even realizing it.  They were expecting a King just not Jesus.

An analogy here could be made like leaven in a batch of dough.

Matthew 13:33:  He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” 

Here, Jesus’ response challenges the Pharisees expectations and reveals a deeper truth about the nature of God’s kingdom.  It is here! That is where the title of this message was revealed to me.  

  1. Surprises are never the same – they are all different. 

The Pharisees were clearly not ready for Jesus’ response.  Jesus made a clear distinction between His return in glory and the Kingdom of God. When he said, “the Kingdom of God is in your midst,” He likely is referring to the God’s reign over the hearts of men and women who long to do His will.  He is pointing to those who hope for deliverance from Him, the King. While the Kingdom in which Jesus is referring had begun with the coming of Jesus and the call of His disciples.  It is not a visible territory with borders. It is not a capitol building or palace with beautiful architecture. Instead, His Kingdom, God’s Kingdom, had already begun to make its appearance as people bowed their hearts to the King and offered themselves in service to his rule and reign. 

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Imagine the Pharisees surprise to Jesus’ response. 

After all, Jesus was clearly not saying that the Kingdom of God is “in each one of you individually.”  In the Greek, we find the phrase, entos humin. The best translation is “among you” or “in your midst.”   Essentially, He is saying the Kingdom of God is in the presence of all of you. Right now! 

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Let’s be clear, at the point in time, Jesus had already performed many acts which showed visible signs for everyone to observe.  This applies to the religious leaders as well.  Jesus had cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  All these events provide powerful evidence that God’s Kingdom was at hand.  Despite all this, the Pharisees ask Him, “when the Kingdom of God would come” (v.20).

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Think about it for a moment. It is not that hard to understand why the Pharisees did not understand what was going on.  Most Jews at the time in history believe “Kingdom” suggested political power would be restored.  They believed their Savior, the Messiah, would come with force.  He would raise up an army to defeat the Roman oppression. They believed that Israel’s sovereignty and independence would be restored.  They believed that economic prosperity would be the by-product of the Messiah. The Pharisees were looking for signs of the times and not miracles performed by this carpenter.  This man who by his appearance was not special to them. 

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Jesus was giving them an unacceptable answer according to their expectations. His response to the Pharisees in Luke 17:20 is not what they want to hear.  Jesus’s Kingdom does not come with careful, hostile observation (paratērēseōs).  He states essentially that there is no reason to keep looking for widespread political signs.  Instead, Jesus states, “The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (v.21).  Jesus is stating clearly that God’s Kingdom is here, among the people.

Again, we can understand why the Pharisees were rejecting Jesus’s claim.  They did not see what they were expecting. 

There are many unexpected scenarios in Scripture in the Old and New Testament.

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With God, we should not think that you can know exactly what He is up to. Expect Him to do something great but expect the unexpected.  

Matthew 19:26

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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We must stay in step with the Holy Spirit.  In prayer. In the Word. Intentionally.

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To see things as God wants us to see them, we must abide in Him.   The Pharisees were clouded by pride.  The Pharisees were offended that Jesus and his disciples did not consult the Temple before proclaiming God’s Kingdom is here.  It is understandable that the Pharisees did not and would not ever accept this.  The idea that the Kingdom of God had already arrived without their knowledge was insulting to them.  

Proverbs 16:18 

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

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If we are truly seeking, God will reveal His truths to us.  We MUST take the focus off of ourselves and put it on Jesus.

  1. But wait there’s more…

Jesus goes on to tell the Pharisees what they want to know.  Jesus points to a much bigger, momentous arrival of the kingdom soon enough.

Luke 17:30 

so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 

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Jesus explains that the revelation of the Son of Man will occur publicly.  It will be a surprise to many just like in the time of Noah, Lot and Sodom. Then, all will see the coming of the King into His kingdom.  Jesus seems to be clarifying that it is important to recognize that the Kingdom of God (entos humin) is in your midst now!  He implores the disciples to submit and give away their lives for the cause of Christ. (v. 33). 

The kingdom had arrived, even if it did not arrive with pomp and circumstance or a military ceremony.  Luke’s gospel demonstrates that the Kingdom of God was appearing in unexpected, unlikely, and even, unnoticeable ways to many.  Jesus is imploring the Pharisees and His disciples to open their eyes.  Now!

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Luke 11:20 – Definitive proof of the Kingdom of God.

But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Clearly, the Kingdom of God was present then.  It never left.

APPLICATION:

The question is not “Where is the Kingdom?” but rather, Is my heart yielded to the King? Has the Kingdom come to you? Have you opened your heart fully?

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Luke 14:23-24

23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 

24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.

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The Messianic Banquet.  Will you make excuses?  Will you put it off?  Will you be ready?  Or will it be a surprise? 

Not only should we be ready, but we are to be on mission wherever we are.  The Great Commission calls us to be ambassadors for Christ.  We are to proclaim the truth and that might even be uncomfortable.

If being a Christian was a crime, and you were accused of being one, will there be enough evidence to convict you?

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Luke 17:17-19 – The Parable of the Ten Lepers 

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 

18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 

19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

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Notice how just before Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God being entos humin, Jesus uses the parable to demonstrate the welcoming a Samaritan leper.  

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Some may be healed physically, but not spiritually.  This is a sad reality.

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Back to our text.  The Jewish leaders desired a powerful and glorious Savior.  Jesus tells them of one “who must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation” (17:25).  Jesus himself is offering a scandalous scenario.  He is at the center of the kingdom. He is the King of the Kingdom even if the Pharisees could not believe it or at least found it unlikely.  

Therefore, in Jesus, believers can find deep meaning in the proclamation that “the Kingdom of God is among you.”  He is in our midst.  He is the epicenter of the new government.  The rule and reign of the King must be accepted.  Only by accepting Christ as King will the Pharisees – or anyone – come into the kingdom before them.

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Whether in the first century or today, the kingdom is full of unexpected surprises. We often foolishly believe we can put God in one box or another.  He is God and we are not.  The sooner we come to realize we do not fully understand all that He is doing, the better off we will be.  The correlation to that recognition and our willingness to submit to the King is clear. 

With Jesus at its helm, the Kingdom of God operates with a different economy, a different understanding of authority, a different approach to work, a different set of goals. All believers can do is humbly and sincerely submit.  

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The inquiry posed to Jesus by the Pharisees regarding the arrival of God’s kingdom is one that echoes through the ages. It’s a question that resonates with humanity’s longing for a tangible manifestation of divine rule, often envisioned in terms of grandeur and power. Yet, Jesus’ response redirects our gaze away from external signs and toward an internal reality.

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be fully observed,” Jesus declares. His words carry a profound message, one that challenges our preconceived notions and invites us to a deeper understanding. God’s kingdom is not confined to earthly boundaries or marked by visible structures. Instead, it transcends the physical realm.  It is here now and forever.

Daniel 7: 13-14

13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 

14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. 

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The kingdom of God is among us, present in ways that may elude our senses. It dwells within the hearts of those who seek God’s righteousness, compassion, and love. It is revealed in acts of kindness, forgiveness, and reconciliation. In every moment of selflessness and every instance of grace, the kingdom breaks through into our midst.

Application: Why does Jesus make us aware of the outward Kingdom and then direct our attention inward, to the realm of the heart? 

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It is because the kingdom of God begins within Jesus in us. It is not imposed from without but emerges from within the depths of our being. As Jesus proclaims, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Here lies the transformative power of God’s reign – it starts with a change of heart. A conscious decision to follow Jesus by faith.  To accept the grace of God and live in subjection to the King of God’s Kingdom.

When we allow God to reign in our lives, when we submit our will to His, we become vessels of His kingdom. Our thoughts, words, and actions are infused with His love and grace, bringing healing and restoration to a broken world. In this way, we participate in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. We become agents of His plan for peace and reconciliation.

So, let us not be like the Pharisees, seeking signs and wonders in the external realm. Instead, let us turn inward, cultivating hearts that are receptive to the presence of God’s kingdom among us and inside us. May we embody its values and principles, living as citizens of a kingdom not of this world but eternally present among us.

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Revelation 11:15 

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

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In conclusion, let us embrace the truth revealed in Luke 17:20-21 – that the kingdom of God is indeed among us, in our midst.  As believers, His Kingdom is within us, calling us to participate in its unfolding glory. May we heed the call to live as bearers of His kingdom, shining forth His light in a world hungering for hope and redemption. May we fully expect the unexpected.  Will that be you?