Returning As King: Luke 17:20-37

Focus Passage: Luke 17:20-37 (NIrV)

20 Once the Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He replied, “The coming of God’s kingdom is not something you can see. 21 People will not say, ‘Here it is.’ Or, ‘There it is.’ That’s because God’s kingdom is among you.”

22 Then Jesus spoke to his disciples. “The time is coming,” he said, “when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man. But you won’t see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ Or, ‘Here he is!’ Don’t go running off after them. 24 When the Son of Man comes, he will be like the lightning. It flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first the Son of Man must suffer many things. He will not be accepted by the people of today.

26 “Remember how it was in the days of Noah. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes. 27 People were eating and drinking. They were getting married. They were giving their daughters to be married. They did all those things right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking. They were buying and selling. They were planting and building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven. And all the people were destroyed.

30 “It will be just like that on the day the Son of Man is shown to the world. 31 Suppose someone is on the housetop on that day. And suppose what they own is inside the house. They should not go down to get what they own. No one in the field should go back for anything either. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life will keep it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed. One person will be taken and the other left. 35-36 Two women will be grinding grain together. One will be taken and the other left.”

37 “Where, Lord?” his disciples asked.

He replied, “The vultures will gather where there is a dead body.”

Read Luke 17:20-37 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Sometimes, Jesus responds to a question with another question. Usually He does this when being verbally attacked with a trick question.

Other times, Jesus responds to a question with a simple answer. Often, these responses are to questions from those who are hurting or from those who are confused.

However a few times, Jesus responds to a question with a somewhat unclear or cryptic response. It is such a response that we will focus on in this passage.

Jesus has just finished teaching about when He returns to the world, and while the disciples might understand that it will be “unexpected” and/or “business as usual” right up until that point, at least one of them was unsure about the where. The disciples ask Jesus, “Where, Lord?” (v. 37)

The prior passage is the big one people seem to attach to the rapture, and we have discussed that topic before. However, what if this mysterious response is actually a clue into another detail of this event?

What can we learn from the way Jesus responded?

This whole passage is primarily a caution about being caught up looking for His return or for another coming messiah after Him. He then describes His return as being like two other significant events – the flood, which was global and could not be missed by anyone; and the destruction of Sodom, which was visible from miles around. Both these events were destructive, visible, and unexpected. Jesus says His return will also be like this.

While this passage is Jesus describing His return, why bring references in about dead bodies? If rapture theory holds true, perhaps there would be corpses left behind of all those who had spiritually left, but there are enough other details in this response that challenge this thinking – i.e. the very visible nature of what Jesus is describing, specifically His appearance being like lightning.

A different way to understand this passage/response is along the lines of the destructive train of thought. Jesus’ return will be destructive, and if those who are taken to heaven with Him no longer are present, then the destruction that happened or shock from witnessing this event might have caused some, or perhaps everyone, who was left behind to be dead.

If this is the case, than not only is Jesus saying “everywhere” with this response, He is also describing what the post-second coming world would be like: scattered with corpses of those who were left behind – definitely a feast for vultures if these animals survived the event.

When Jesus returns, it will affect everyone. When Jesus returns, there won’t be any confusion about whether He is coming as King of the Universe.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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