And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said…
Jesus was on journey to Jerusalem when the ingratitude of the nine lepers, just noticed, took place, and this gave rise to speculation as to the near approach of his kingdom. His enemies, the Pharisees, put the sarcastic question when the kingdom of God should come, as much as to say, "We have heard of it long; we should like to see it." This leads our Lord to unfold the nature of his kingdom's advent and of his own.
I. HIS KINGDOM COMES IN THE HEARTS OF MEN. (Vers. 20, 21.) The characteristic of worldly kingdoms has always been ostentation. They try to impress the senses by noisy advents, brag, advertisement, the blare of bugle and roll of drum. And some think that there is nothing worth talking about which can come in any milder way. The Jews expected a kingdom of God to supersede the Roman, and that its advent would be seen in the defeat and expulsion of the conquerors of Canaan. But, no; the kingdom was coming in men's hearts; it was there it had its sphere and home.
1. How superficial is the sovereignty which is not founded in the heart I This is the world's experience daily. The outward sovereignty is a name and based on fear.
2. How noble is the sovereignty which is based upon people's hearts! It is here Jesus reigns. We love him. We would die for him. Thus his kingdom progresses wherever a heart is touched by Christ's love. His triumph is over the selfishness of mankind. He conquers them by self-sacrificing love.
II. THE KING HIMSELF IS TO COME AS SUDDENLY AS THE LIGHTNING-FLASH. (Vers. 22-24.) He is not to give warning of his approach. There will be no need to go here or there under the impression that he has come quietly and privately, to prepare for his public manifestation; but suddenly like the lightning-flash, and publicly like its heaven-enlightening beam, is he to come for judgment. Hence the awful suddenness of his advent is distinctly implied. He will give no premonitory warnings, but overwhelmingly sudden and awful will be his approach. No wonder in such circumstances that many shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, one of those seasons of quiet philanthropy such as the Saviour was now leading among men. The Pharisees were mistaking altogether the significance of his present mission.
III. THE RESULTS OF THE PRESENT MISAPPREHENSIONS. (Vers. 25-30.)
1. The first sad result will be the rejection and martyrdom of Jesus (ver. 25). Misapprehending the significance of his meek and lowly philanthropic life, his generation united in rejecting him, and secured his crucifixion on the tree. They would not have the King when actually among them in flesh and blood.
2. Men will act like the antediluvians and Sodomites up to the very time of our Lord's advent. A sense of carnal security characterized these sinners. They thought in Noah's day that no harm would overtake them. There was no sign of the Deluge except Noah's precautions against it, and they would not act upon such signs. In Sodom it was the same. The inhabitants thought no change would come over their selfish, sensual dream. But the Deluge came, and the fire and brimstone descended, notwithstanding. So will it be with the advent of Christ - it will come as a sudden, unexpected judgment upon many. And this carnal security is a present danger with many. They fancy they are safe, that nothing will interfere with their security; but the Saviour makes his advent suddenly, and they are overwhelmed.
IV. THE REALITIES OF THE ADVENT. (Vers. 31-37.) Now, the truth is clearly brought out that some shall be saved and others lost at the advent.
1. Let us look at the lost. They are brought under our notice here in several ways. Thus Lot's wife is taken as a type of the lost. Now, we know that she was lost through looking longingly back to her worldly things. God, by his angels, had set the family's faces towards the mountains and himself. Were they prepared to take him and his favour as their portion, and give up all their property in Sodom? If they looked longingly behind them, it would show that the world was still more to them than God. The poor wife could not resist the temptation, and so she was changed into a pillar of salt. She is, then, the type of those who are almost saved, but worldliness gets the better of them, and they are lost. Again, the lost ones are represented as food for eagles (ver. 37) This brings out the corruption characterizing them. They have become moral carrion which only the eagles can consume. There is, doubtless, a reference to the Roman invasion under Titus, and to the destruction of corrupt Jerusalem. The Roman armies were God's scavengers to destroy a corrupt people. This was one way in which Christ made an advent to judgment. Lastly, we have the lost described as those who are continually seeking to save themselves (ver. 33). Those whose one aim in life is self-preservation, the saving of themselves at every turn, who think of self as the supreme concern, are only losing themselves. The curious paradox is that those who save themselves at every turn lose themselves; while those who do not count their lives dear, but Christ's concern as supreme, find themselves safe at last. Let us see to it, therefore, that we are neither worldly minded, nor corrupt, nor given up to selfishness, else we are among the lost.
2. But let us look at the saved ones. These are those who have kept Christ before them as their Lord and Master, whose interests should be supreme (ver. 33). They value him more than life, and so he saves them. The nature of salvation is thus plainly unfolded. The saved ones are those with whom Christ is all in all. They prefer him to everything else. The instinct of self-preservation has in them given place to an instinct to preserve the honour and promote the kingdom of the Master. And those who have trusted him and honoured him so thoroughly shall find that he will not disappoint them. Let us wait for his appearing, then, and love it; and when it flashes across the world, we shall be allowed to escape the judgments that come upon the earth, and to stand before the Son of man. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: