by Bill Spaans:
The world seems to be in turmoil these days, with COVID-19 and political upheavals as everyday highlights in our news cycle. We may well be wondering when Jesus will put an end to this and return to establish His Kingdom. In Jesus’ day the Pharisees wondered the same thing, as we read in Luke 17: 20 – 21:
“Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
This may seem like a surprising answer! Jesus says that the coming of the Kingdom is not some far off event. Because the King stands “in our midst”, the kingdom is in fact already here! So how do we recognize this kingdom in the midst of our current turmoil? In chapter 17 Dr. Luke gives us some important clues.
This chapter starts with a teaching from Jesus about forgiveness. He said that if your brother sins against you and asks for forgiveness, you should forgive, even if that happens seven times in one day! The disciples were understandably challenged by this teaching and consequently asked for more faith (vs. 5). His response to them appears to be that they do not need more faith. Jesus said (vs.6) “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
So even a little faith can have amazing results. What is really needed is more obedience, which Jesus demonstrated as follows (vs. 7-10):
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So, you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
And then Jesus taught that the Kingdom is characterized by gratitude. The text says that one day Jesus crossed paths with ten lepers who He healed in a miraculous way. But then it says (vs.15-19):
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
So, what are the attributes of the Kingdom of God? Jesus says that they include forgiveness, obedience, and gratitude. And, O yes, also at least a little faith. If we do these things God will do the rest – because He is the King! And to King Jesus be the glory!