Life of Christ 135
In just a matter of days, Jesus will come to the crisis point of Calvary. At the moment, however, He is avoiding the more settled regions of Israel, and He is traveling through the remote region along the border between Samaria and Galilee.
On His travels He is accosted by a group of Pharisees (Luke 17.20-37). These men were well acquainted with Jesus' claim on the messiahship of Israel, and of His offer of Himself to Israel as her rightful King. They also well knew that by now they had won the struggle for the soul of Israel, and that she had practically turned her back on her Christ. Knowing this, they taunt Him. 'He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come' (Luke 17.20).
His response is two-fold, and justifiably so, for the kingdom of God is two-fold. The phrase 'kingdom of God' is simply but well defined as the rule of God, and there are two different ways this rule is emphasized by Christ. First, as the rule of God in your own heart, and second, as His own direct governmental rule over the entirety of humanity on Earth.
The first one is not something that can be seen to happen. It takes place inside of us, in our heart, and it is not observable by people. 'And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17.20-21).
Jesus will spend the rest of today's story explaining to His Apostles how to recognize the imminent arrival of the second, but it is the first that the Pharisees, and Israel, needed so desperately. Their opposition to Christ was not logical. We have seen this illustrated already (see Life of Christ 54 and 55), and most recently in the Sanhedrin's appalling reaction to the resurrection of Lazarus. No, their opposition to Christ was emotional. It was pure cussedness, to use an old-fashioned term. It was pure hardness of heart. They needed to yield themselves to the claims of Christ, and to the rule of God, and that yielding must needs start in the heart.
If I have said it once in preaching I have said it a thousand times: God is after your heart. Somebody sits on the throne of every man's heart. Sometimes it is an idol. Most of the time it is himself. What he must needs do is step down from that throne, and yield to Christ's claim of occupancy.
Yes, the kingdom of God is coming to this sin sick world no matther how much they scoff and sneer at the thought. But if that Second Coming of Christ is to be met with joy by you, and not by grief, then the kingdom of God must come first within you. You must yield to His rule.
The Pharisees would not. Israel did not. Have you?