Thanksgiving for the Kingdom of God
Thanksgiving for the Kingdom of God
20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, [Jesus] answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21 ESV)
In general, the Jewish people were hoping and longing for the Messiah, who they envisioned to be a magnificent leader, a bold, forthright, and powerful man who would victoriously claim Jewish land and sovereignty. Jesus didn’t meet their expectations.
God’s kingdom came to earth without fanfare. The kingdom of God came humbly and quietly, and the king of the kingdom was just as Isaiah prophesied—he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2).
For now, the kingdom is not territorial; it is spiritual. To discover it and appreciate it, people would need to hear and see with spiritual eyes given by God’s Spirit. Many people were unwilling to do so.
When people truly understand what Jesus offers his kingdom, they long to enter it. (See Luke 16:16)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus revealed and invited people into the kingdom. Luke 17 reveals one man’s experience of salvation.
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. The phrase, “On the way to Jerusalem,” highlights Jesus’ provision and entrance to the kingdom of God by way of Calvary’s cross.
12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
A leper was among the world’s most miserable people since people believed them to be cursed by God and the community. The Bible uses leprosy to picture the destruction of sin. As we see the disease of leprosy affecting people, so sin does.
Like the lepers who saw Jesus, every sinner should call out to the Lord, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
This passage is about gratitude, but that is secondary to God’s primary work in the life of someone desperate and without hope. Ten people with a terminal condition had only one hope to experience healing. More importantly, they had only one hope to enter the eternal kingdom of God, and Jesus was their hope.
No matter how sinful and desperate your life is or far removed from the kingdom of God, you’re in the right position to receive God’s mercy, salvation, and transformation when you recognize the need for it.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). When you know such conviction, then you can be confident that God is working in your life.
17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19 ESV)
Jesus countered the wrong belief that some people have an inside track into the kingdom of God.
Sadly, the other nine lepers were content with being healed only of their physical condition, disregarding their soul’s eternal state.
Nine out of ten were willing to settle for less than what was glorious, less than God’s greatest miracle, the salvation of their soul. They were more focused on being accepted by their community than God in his kingdom.
Don’t be like the 9 lepers who tragically believed that God’s most generous provision is your “best life now.” Our best life is in God’s kingdom—now available spiritually by faith and, one day, physically throughout eternity.
For those alive in the kingdom of God, we have much to be thankful.
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