Tuesday, April 15, 2014

God's Kingdom Near You

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Tuesday, April 15, 2014:  Luke 17:11-37

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.”  Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)

Jesus was constantly shocking those who listened to Him.  He still shocks us today.  Men come asking life-questions, and His answers turn us on our heads.  

Here's a quick example:  a Jewish rabbi once came to Jesus investigating His miracles.  Jesus insinuated that this good man needed to back up and start his life all over again -- to be "born again" (John 3:3-8).  It shocked Nicodemus, and took the conversation in an entirely new direction.

In Luke 17, the Pharisees came to Jesus asking about the great climactic arrival of the Kingdom of God. Jesus' answer confused them.  It still causes people to scratch their heads even today.  He told the Pharisees that they were looking in the wrong place. They were looking for a dramatic revolutionary invasion by God that would throw out the Romans and re-establish Jerusalem as political capital of Israel.  

That's the human dilemma -- the problem we all face.  We're usually looking for answers in the wrong place! It's like the old Johnny Lee song "Looking for Love" -- (in all the wrong places). It may be the right question, but we need to wake up and be ready to hear the right answers.

Jesus told them that the Kingdom of God had already arrived and they did not have eyes to see it. They were looking for a whole set of observable signs when, all along, God was showing up in a totally different way.  He told them, "the Kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU."  What does that mean?

There are two answers often given by biblical scholars.  First, Jesus was saying the Kingdom of God is INSIDE YOU.  It is internal -- a matter of the heart.  Second, Jesus was referring to Himself.  He was saying, "the Kingdom of God is AMONG YOU, walking around in your midst."

I believe both interpretations have validity.  The real point, however, is that THEY COULDN'T SEE IT. They did not recognize the way God was working in their lives and in their world.

We ought to pray as Paul did in Ephesians 1:18:  that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know ..."  In all likelihood, the answer to your deepest prayer is not far from you right now. You just need the ability to see it.  Jesus said it this way:  "The Kingdom of God is at hand..." (Mark 1:15).  The Kingdom is within you and all around you.

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