The Coming of the Kingdom
20 Once Jesus* was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed;21nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among* you.’
22 Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.23They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit.24For 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.*25But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man.27They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,29but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them30—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.31On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back.32Remember Lot’s wife.33Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.34I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.35There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.’*37Then they asked him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.’
I can be a pretty obsessive and precise type of person. I guess it is the teacher in me working in higher education. We are very specific, precise people. I want to know a calendar date or an indication of what is going to happen. Our administrators want status updates. So I definitely understand the Disciples wanting a date or a sign—some indication of the coming of the Son of Man and the Kingdom of God. I would have been right there with my notepad asking for that date or sign myself. And Christ’s response, I think, is applicable at all times. We cannot know. We can only go about our business of serving God until the moment happens. And when that time comes, there will be no time for second guessing or looking back. There will be no rescheduled appointments. I think the point is not to bring out a sense of fear and panic that leads to chaos, but a sense of ongoing preparation.
The flip side—or balancing act—of that not knowing and always being prepared is the warning that those who try to make their life secure will lose it while those who lose their life will keep it. Yikes. That is scary for people like me who always try to think ahead and be prepared for anything. You can’t. You must lose your life to keep it. For me, that means losing your life in terms of your own sense of control. That doesn’t mean you are excused from taking responsibility and planning and setting goals and such. But it does mean being prepared to give those plans over to Christ. Sometimes there is tweaking in that plans, and sometimes there is a serious restructure of the plan. In the end though, we gain our life. And it is far better than we could have managed on our own.