Luke 17:20-21: The Kingdom of God is in your midst

In his book called Mere Christianity, in the chapter called hope, C.S. Lewis writes

‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hungry: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. … If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.’

We all long for a world of no pain, a world with no evil, a place where we can live in peace, this is because God has made us to live in His New Creation. God has made us to live in holy happiness in a place of peace where we are free to find the fulfilment of every holy desire in His perfect ways and world. Tolkien, a friend to Lewis and instrumental in his conversion, speaks about our hearts being made for God’s story. He talks about how our hearts resonate with all the major fairytales, where we live happily ever after. Those stories that talk about the prince coming to fight and lay down his life and rescue his bride, those stories that talk about the conflict of the ages resulting in the overcoming of evil. God made our hearts to resonate with His work of salvation and we find ourselves drawn to these great epics as our hearts look for the satisfaction we are made to find in His story.

The Bible is the primary place where God made promises and paints a picture of the New Creation that He has made us for. Just after sin enters the world we see God promising a Son who would undo the works of the devil and defeat him in combat, crushing his head. As the story of the Bible unfolds we hear stories of a child born to Abraham who will cause blessing to come to the whole world, a Son born to David who will create world peace. The prophets paint provocative pictures of lions lying down with lambs, a time of no war, no foreign occupation, of a pure and holy people. The Jews at the time of Christ were filled with all sorts of expectations of this kingdom of God. They too were looking for that perfect future all of our hearts long for, and their hopes were built up and informed or more correctly misinformed by the prophecies of the OT. They had certain hard and fast interpretations of the OT prophecies that were working as a litmus test for what they would accept as fulfilment.

As we come to our next section in Luke 17:20-37 we are coming to a section discussing God fulfilling His promises regarding the kingdom of God. This section divides into two parts, in v20-21 we see the Pharisees asking a question and Jesus addressing the Pharisees, then in v22-37 we see Jesus addressing His disciples. As we have highlighted in past messages the Jewish expectation around the kingdom was too simple, they did not realise that Jesus would fulfil part of those promises with His first coming, and then other parts with His second coming, they thought the whole thing would come at once. However, there are things that are fulfilled in the first coming of Christ and things to be fulfilled in the future. This section follows that division, v20-21 deal with how Christ presently manifests the kingdom and the rest of the portion points to the future. We will be limiting ourselves to v20-21 and dividing into two parts, identifying the kingdom and entering the kingdom.