Scripture: Luke 17:20-25
20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." 22 And he said to the disciples, "The days are coming 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, `Lo, there!' or `Lo, here!' Do not go, do not follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Meditation: What can lightning tell us about the coming of the Lord and his kingdom? The Jews is Jesus' time were watching in great anticipation for some sign which would indicate when the Messiah would appear to establish the kingdom of God. The Pharisees' question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God's kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time. The "Day of the Lord" was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his glory and power and overthrow the enemies of his people, Israel. The prophet Amos declared that the "Day" also meant judgment for Israel as well as the nations (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this "Day" those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).
Why did Jesus associate lightning with the "Day of the Lord"? In the arrid climate of Palestine, storms were infrequent and seasonal. They often appeared suddenly or unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere, covering everthing in thick darkness. With little or no warning lightning filled the sky with its piercing flashes of flaming light. Its power struck terror and awe in those who tried to flee from its presence. Jesus warned the Pharisees that the "Son of man" (a title for the Messiah given in the Book of Daniel 7:13-15) would come in like manner, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, on the clouds of heaven to bring God's judgment on the "Day of the Lord". No special sign will be needed to announce his appearance. Nor will his presence and power be veiled or hidden, but all will recognize him as clearly as the lightning in the sky.
Jesus identified himself with the "Day of the Lord". "Son of man" was understood as a Messianic title for the one who would come not only to establish God's kingdom but who would come as Judge of the living as well as the dead. Jesus points to his second coming when he will return to complete the work of restoration and final judgment. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both believers and non-believers as well. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what sign would indicate the "Day of the Lord", Jesus replied that only one sign would point to that day and that sign was Jesus himself. Jesus surprised the Jews of his time by announcing that God's kingdom was already present among them in his very person – the Son of God sent from the Father to redeem the world from sin and destruction. In Jesus we see the power and the glory of God's kingdom. His divine power overthrew the powers of darkness and sin. Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross. On that cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of our sins. The victory of his cross opens the way for us to become citizens of God's kingdom. Do you seek the coming of God's kingdom with joyful hope?
"Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and my your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Be the Ruler of my heart and the Master of my life that I may always live in the freedom of your love and truth."
89 For ever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed
in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By your appointment they stand this day; for all things are your servants.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
175 Let me live, that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me.