When Will the Kingdom of God Come?
You can just hear the tone of voices in these Pharisees asking this question. They would be dripping with cynicism and barely disguised ridicule. They believe this Jesus to be a charlatan, not just your run-of-the-mill one, but a dangerous one. They think they are going to show him up by asking this apocalyptic question that only God could answer. They hope he is going to give a day and a time, which when it passed without happening, would give them the evidence they so desired to be rid of him.
But Jesus knows their hearts. He replies, ʺThe Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce,’Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.ʺ The Pharisees must have been disappointed and angered with that answer. There was nothing in it that would give them the evidence that they so desired. Yet, the truth of the statement is so evident. No human being could ever know the answer to that question. It is beyond the competence of a mere human being. Only God could know. And it was the Son of God that was answering them, though their hearts were too proud to see that. But Jesus reveals here too that there will be those who will try to tell us that they know the answer, who will try to tell us, ʺIt is here,ʺ or, ʺIt is over there.ʺ They will be minions of the Jealous One trying to draw our attention away from the truth that is already with us. Jesus, the King, was standing before their very eyes, and they could not see that. The Kingdom of God was among them then and remains among us now. Though it cannot be seen, it is already among us.
Then Jesus turned to his disciples and gives them the same message, but with a more intimate twist. ʺThe days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or, ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be (in his day).ʺ His disciples, those who walked with him and ate with him, desired the coming of the Kingdom of God too. But even though they had faith in Jesus and who he said he was, even they would not be given the day or the hour of the coming of the Kingdom. That was not what Jesus wanted them to be concentrated on. He wanted them to live as if the Kingdom was already here. He wanted them to live out of the love that is the one and only law of the Kingdom of God. He wanted them to live in and out of that love in the here and now. That is what he wants us to do too. We are not to worry about when the Kingdom of God is to come, for we know it will. We are not to hope for it in our own time, or in our own way. We are to leave that to God. And there is more:
Jesus said to his disciples, ʺBut first (The Son of Man) must suffer and be rejected by this generation.ʺ And so he was. And we must be willing to suffer the rejection of this generation. We know that the Kingdom of God is still among us. We know that it is still not given to us to know the day and the hour when it will be made manifest to all men and all of creation, like a flash of lightning brightening the whole sky. But we are to live as citizens of that Kingdom with our daily lives and not to worry ourselves over things that are beyond us. We are simply to love one another as Jesus loved us. In this there is the hint of the Kingdom of God among us. Amen.