Summary: This is a message focusing on the lordship of Christ. The emphasis was on helping our people understand the invitation to live and participate in the kingdom, or reign, of God today.
Jesus is Lord
“And milk.” Every morning for the first six years of my education, those two words signaled the end of the day’s announcements and the impending opportunity for each student in the school to rise for the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Every day was the same. As the button to the microphone was pressed in the office, a rather abrupt crackling noise would echo through each of the school’s intercom speakers to be followed by the nasal voice of Principle Mills. Reminders of upcoming events, our weekly spirit day, and the menu items for the toxic school lunch were recited, always finishing with “…and milk.”
We knew the drill, and we’d step out from behind our desks, place our right hands over our hearts, and recite those 31 words that profess a loyalty and devotion to not only a flag, but to a way of life…the American ideal.
Today, there is much controversy about that pledge. Some people passionately debate the addition of the words “under God” by President Eisenhower in 1954 to the pledge. On one side, people argue that the words are unconstitutional and violate the separation of church and state. Other equally passionate, well-meaning Christians fear that removing those two words will bring God’s wrath on our nation.
At the risk of sounding offensive, I wonder if it even matters any more. The words, “under God,” infer a desire for our nation to submit itself under the reign of God as a republic. However, I’m not even sure if the church can honestly boast such a pure motive, let alone our nation.
I hope you will allow me to leave this issue for the sake of moving forward. For the remainder of our time together, I don’t wish to persuade you one way or the other concerning our nation’s struggle with this issue. Rather, I would like us to consider the church’s plight as a pilgrim people under the reign of God.
“When Jesus closed his carpenter’s shop and went off to preach, His first message, which He kept repeating, was ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matt. 4:17)” (Denny, 56).
Over and over again, we hear Jesus talking about the kingdom of heaven. On one occasion, some religious leaders were bold enough to ask about the kingdom of God, and that is where I would like us to turn today. Please turn with me to Luke 17:20-37:
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures gather.”
It is clear early in this passage that there are two different understandings of the “Kingdom of God.” We find the Pharisees asking when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus tells them that it “doesn’t come with careful observation.” He is saying that it won’t come with signs to watch for. “The word he used is the word used for a doctor watching a patient for symptoms of some disease which he suspects” (Barclay, 220).