The Gospel of Luke:a commentary & meditation

"For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky, so will the Son of man be in his day"

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, both Jew and Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).

Why did Jesus associate lightning with the "Day of the Lord"? When lightning appears in the darkened sky, its powerful surge of  flashing energy and dazzling light and its piercing noise strike awe and terror. You don't need a special sign to announce its presence or to show where it is striking. It manifests itself quite clearly. In like manner, when "the son of Man comes" it will be as clear as the lightning in the heavens. No special sign will be needed to announce his imminent appearance. 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. Jesus promises to bring the kingdom of God to all who recognize in him the power and glory of the Father in heaven.

How does the Lord Jesus make his presence and his kingdom known to us today? Like a seed planted in fertile soil, Jesus, the sower of the soul, plants God's kingdom first in our hearts. The kingdom begins from within and transforms our hearts to be like God's heart a people who know the power of his love, mercy, and forgiveness. The Lord Jesus is present in his word, in the 'breaking of the bread' when we come to the table of the Lord in the eucharist, and in his church the body of Christ,.  Jesus reveals himself in many countless ways to those who seek him with eyes of faith. When we read the word of God in the bible Jesus speaks to us and reveals to us the mind and heart of the Father. When we approach the table of the Lord, Jesus offers himself as spiritual food which produces the very life of God within us (I am the bread of life, John 6:35). He promises unbroken fellowship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God (John 6:37). And he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection. Is your hope and desire to see God face to face?

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. In Jesus we see the power and the glory of God's kingdom. His 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 sin for us. 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."

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 (c) 2000-2007 Don Schwager