Luke 17:22
Then He said to the disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
Sermons
The Advent of the Kingdom and the KingR.M. Edgar Luke 17:20-37
And Why NotC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 17:22-24
Days of Holy PrivilegesDean Vaughan.Luke 17:22-24
Mistaken Desires for JesusD. G. Watt, M. A.Luke 17:22-24
The Brief Day of OpportunityW. Clarkson Luke 17:22-25


The thought of our Master in this passage (as I understand it) is this: "I have been asked when the kingdom of God will come: my reply is that it has come already; that you have not to look about in this and that direction; here, in the midst of you, impersonated in him that speaks, is the kingdom. It is present in the Present One. But," he says to his disciples, "he is present in a very strict sense. The time will soon be here when you will greatly long for his fellowship, and you will not be able to possess it. Do not believe those who will tell you that the Son of man is still on earth; it will not be true. His life below will be of the very briefest; it will be but as a lightning-flash which passes through the darkened heavens in a moment, and is gone again; so brief will be his stay, so soon will he be gone. But before he goes he must suffer many things; much must be done, for much must be endured, before his short day is done."

I. THE BRIEF DAY OF OUR LORD'S OPPORTUNITY. When we think of the long centuries that preceded, and of those that have already succeeded, the day of Christ, we may well regard his short visit to our world as a mere flash of light for transitoriness. What were those few months of his short stay among men compared with all those dark ages, and to all those that have been illumined by the light which his truth has shed upon them! But, transient as it was, it sufficed. It does not take long to utter or to illustrate the most Divine and the most vital truths; it did not take long to undergo the most mysterious and the most availing sorrows - it took but a few agonizing hours to die the death of atonement. Into that short day of opportunity our Divine Redeemer compressed:

1. The utterance of all needful truth - all the truth we need for our guidance into the kingdom of God, and for our passage through life and death into the kingdom of glory.

2. The illustration of every human grace; the living of a human life in all its perfect loveliness and grandeur.

3. The endurance of sorrow such as constituted him for ever the Man of sorrows, and the High Priest of human nature, touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).

4. The dying of that death which is the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. A few months of time sufficed to complete his work and make him the Divine Teacher, Leader, Friend, Saviour, of the whole race of man for all time to come.

II. OUR BRIEF DAY.

1. Measured by hours, our day is very brief. Human life is abort at the longest. We are "but of yesterday,' and to-morrow we shall not be. The rocks and even the trees look down on many generations. And in all the bustle and battle, in all the pursuits and pleasures of our lira, the little time we have hastens away and is gone far sooner than we thought it would go. It is not only our poetry that sings, but our experience that testifies of the swiftness of our course beneath the sun.

2. Yet it holds manifold and precious opportunities of regaining our position as the children and heirs of God; of doing "many things" that shall tell even in future years for truth and God; of "suffering many things" after Christ our Lord, and in holy and noble fellowship with him (Philippians 3:10).

3. Its transiency is an urgent reason for

(1) immediate decision, and

(2) constant and earnest action in the cause of righteousness,

Whilst we have the light that shines, let us walk and let us work in the light. - C.







One of the days of the Son of Man.
I. JESUS FORESHADOWS A CHANGE OF FEELING ON THE PART OF HIS DISCIPLES IN REFERENCE TO HIS APPEARING. They will desire to see one day a visible appearance of the Son of Man. If you have the spirit of Jesus, if He has come to you so that you know Him to be your Saviour and Friend, you cannot be free from such changes of feeling in reference to Him. No. There come to you times in which you think, "Surely my life in Christ is not pouring on me so clearly and warmly as it might do." You are inclined to murmur out such plaints as, "I cannot see His face, though I have eagerly looked for it; waiting to catch some beams of the wondrous glory resting on it, and be able to say, 'It is the Lord.' I want to feel His strong hand holding me up; but I do not grasp it, though I stretch out mine before, behind, on each side. My prayer this morning was that I might find to-day to be a day for a personal and new contact with Jesus." So there is a sense in which your feeling in reference to Him is somewhat changed. The day has come "when ye desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man."

II. JESUS FORESHADOWS HERE THE FAILURE OF SUCH DESIRES FOR HIS APPEARING. "Ye shall not see it." He does not want His people to indulge in vain dreamy longings. He does not want to frustrate hopes that at the bottom might express loyalty to Him, but are mistaken as to the way in which their purport is to be achieved. He could not grant that which would not be for the honour of God; that which would be to the hurt of those who desired only one day of the Son of Man.

III. JESUS FORESHADOWS HERE THAT THERE WILL BE FALSE ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE IN REFERENCE TO HIS APPEARING. "They shall say to you, 'See here! or see there!'" From history we find that there has hardly ever been a time of special trouble in the world, hardly ever a time of formality and deadness in the Church, but men have risen up to declare that the Son of Man was just coming, and that plans should be adopted to meet Him. But that is not the kind of expectation I want to warn you against; it is not the one that you are most in danger of succumbing to. But is there not a tendency to gather religious meetings under the idea that because you thus gather together Jesus will manifest Himself? Is there not a tendency to believe that, if you can get up a great organization to carry out a Christian purpose, obtain plenty of money, and seem to succeed outwardly, Jesus is there? Is that not saying, "See here, see there"? Against all that sort of thing His words ate meant to bear. You may gather meetings; you don't necessarily gather with Christ. You may get wealth to support your efforts; that is not a proof that Christ approves them. You may find numbers to sustain certain plans; that is no pledge, on the part of those numbers, that they are moving under the leading of Christ. You must learn that there is no power of life in those things by themselves. I do not despise meetings, wealth, or numbers. There is a certain value to be attached to them; but that value is just equivalent to any number of cyphers, good for something when you put one, two, or other numeral before them. So gather all kinds of people, money, and meetings; but until you put Christ into them they are of no real value. It is the power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that is to be desired, not the power of external agencies. Pray that your heart may be brought more and more into sympathy with His, and that you may more and more clearly know that you are living on the Son of God by faith. Then you will not need anybody to point out the Son of Man to you when He comes. You do not need anybody to tell you that there is light in this place — you know it; and when Christ appears, His servants will know it without going by the reports of others, without following any one. We shall know it by the power He Himself will exert. Meantime we have to walk by faith, and not by sight.

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

While the Lord was yet on earth the days of the Son of Man were but lightly esteemed. The Pharisees spoke of them with a sneer, and demanded when the kingdom of God should come. "Is this the coming of Thy promised kingdom? Are these fishermen and peasants Thy courtiers? Are these the days for which prophets and kings waited so long?" "Yes," Jesus tells them, "these are the very days. The kingdom of God is set up within men's hearts, and is among you even now; and the time will come when you will wish for these days back again, and even those who best appreciate them shall ere long confess that they thought too little of them, and sigh in their hearts for their return."

1. We are bad judges of our present experiences.

2. We seldom value our mercies till we lose them.

I. Consider THE IMMEDIATE INTERPRETATION of the text.

1. Our Lord meant that His disciples would look back regretfully upon the days when He was with them. In a short time His words were true enough, for sorrows came thick and threefold. At first they began to preach with uncommon vigour, and the Spirit of God was upon them. But by and by the love of many waxed cold, and their first zeal declined; persecution increased in its intensity, and the timid shrank away from them; evil doers and evil teachers came into the Church; heresies and schisms began to divide the body of Christ, and dark days of lukewarmness and half-heartedness covered them.

2. These disciples would look forward sometimes with anxious expectation. "If we cannot go back," they would say, "Oh that He would hurry on and quickly bring us the predicted era of triumph and joy. Oh for one of the days of the Son of Man."

II. AN ADAPTED INTERPRETATION SUITABLE TO BELIEVERS AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT.

1. Days of holy fellowship with Jesus may pass away to our deep sorrow. While the Beloved is with you, hold Him, and do not let Him go. He will abide if you are but eager for His company.

2. Days of delightful fellowship with one another. Let us labour in love, zeal, humility; for a continuance of these all our life long.

3. Days of abundant life and power in the Church.

III. A MEANING ADAPTED TO THE UNCONVERTED. When on your death-bed you will be willing to give all you possess to he able once again to hear the voice of God's minister proclaiming pardon through the blood of Jesus. Emotions formerly quenched will not come back; you resisted the Spirit, and He will leave you to yourself; and yet there will be enough, perhaps, of conscience left to make you wish you could again feel as when almost persuaded to be a Christian.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Two kinds and sets of days are here contrasted: coming days and days that are now. The general thought is very natural and very human. It might be said to almost any one at certain periods of life, that he will one day be looking back upon that period wiG, regretful fondness, even though it may not be entirely bright or altogether enjoyable while it is passing. Days of childhood, though many restrictions have fettered, and many faults may have saddened them; days of school life, though often complained of at the time as days of burdensome lessons, arbitrary rules, and irritating punishments; days of early struggle, and hope long deferred, in the practice of a profession; days of uncertain health or variable spirits, while opinion, faith, and habit, are anxiously shaping themselves, and the aspects and prospects of life are in many ways both gloomy and formidable; of all these, and many other examples might be added to them, it might yet be said with great truth by an experienced looker-on to the person passing through them: "Days will come when ye will be desiring to see one of these days over again, and when, alas, you shall not see it! Yes, you may well prize, while you have them, the days that are now, though they may be very far from perfect, either in opportunity or in circumstance; for assuredly you will one day be desiring one of them back — no tears and no prayers of yours will be of any avail to recall it." When our Lord said here to His disciples: "The days will come when ye will desire to see one of these days" — "days of the Son of Man," He calls them — "and ye shall not see it," there was a solemnity and a pathos in the prediction far beyond the universal experience of which we have spoken. There was much to make the days of that time far from enjoyable. They were days of unrest; they were days of toil; they were days of anxiety; they were days also of perplexity and bewilderment in spiritual things. They were very slowly and very intermittently realizing very elementary conceptions. They had no such hold of great hopes or great faiths as might have made their heaven all brightness, whatever their earth might be. They were always disappointing their Master by some expression which betrayed ignorance, or by some proposal which threatened inconsistency, which must have made, we should have thought, the very memory of those days of the Son of Man a bitterness rather than a comfort. Yet it is quite plain that our Lord looked upon those as in some sense happy days for them. "The days will come when ye will desire to see one of them, and sorrow because ye cannot." "Can ye make the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?" And in that last clause He touches the one point, which makes those happy days for them, whatsoever their drawbacks, and whatsoever their discomforts; it was the personal presence of the loved and trusted Lord. In that one respect they would be losers even by the accomplishment of redemption. "A little while," He said, as the end drew on, "a little while, and ye shall not see Me, and verily I say unto you, that then ye shall weep and lament, while the world is rejoicing, then ye shall be sorrowful, though at last your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Yes; when He speaks of a sorrow in separation,and then of a joy growing out of it, He combines in a wonderful and a merciful way the natural and the spiritual, recognizes the difficulty of rising into the higher heaven of faith, and yet points us thither for the one real and one abiding satisfaction. We have had no such personal experiences as these which the text tells of — none of those companyings with Jesus, as He went in and out among the disciples. It is only from afar off that we can contemplate that living companionship. It is only by a remote emulation that we can desire one of those days of the Son of Man. In the hope of catching some distant ray of that glory travellers have sometimes sought the land of Christ's earthly sojourn, if so be they might live themselves back into the days of His ministry and of His humanity. But others, with a truer and a deeper insight, have sought their inspiration in the holy Gospels, have read and pondered those four sacred biographies till they could see and hear Him in them, without those distractions of surrounding imagery and scenery which can but divert the soul from that heavenlier wisdom. "He is risen; He is not here." It is not in hallowed ground, any more than in imaginative dreaming, that we shall find, in this far-off century of the gospel, the best and most life-like conception of what the text calls "the days of the Son of Man." Rather shall we seek to frame our idea of them — first, in the most human and personal contact with such wants and woes as He came to seek out and to minister to; and, secondly, in the diligent study and imitation, so far as we may, of those characteristics and those ministries which, in our own day and generation, make the nearest approach, however distant it must be, to the character and ministry below of the Divine Son Himself. To acquaint ourselves, not as unconcerned hearers, but as sorrowing sympathizers, with the actual condition at our very doors of the toilers and sufferers by whose labour — alas! too often by whose sacrifice — the wealth and luxury, nay, the comforts and conveniences of the higher English life, are made what they are; not to shrink from the contemplation with a sentimental repugnance, but to compel ourselves to take notice of it, and to encourage by word and deed, by giving and feeling, all the serious enterprises by which English manliness, and English philanthropy, and English Christianity, late or early seek and strive to grapple with it. Thus, on the one side, we shall be realizing the days of the Son of Man. For this was the earth which He came to save, and this was the man whom He took upon Him to deliver. True, He did not become Himself the denizen of an overgrown city. He did not take our flesh in the midst of that swarming hive of humanity, imperial Rome. He did not wait for that latest age which should develop into its gigantic proportions such a metropolis as this London. But no monstrous growth and no uttermost corruption was out of the ken and scope of His incarnation. The days of the Son of Man are wherever Christ and misery stand face to face. Whosoever tries to bring Jesus Christ into one lodging-house or one alley of sinning, suffering London, is doing more to realize to himself, and to others, the ministry of the Saviour, than if He tried to track His earthly footsteps through Palestine, or to picture in vivid imagination the very occupations and employments of the days of His flesh.

(Dean Vaughan.)

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