Jesus came proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:14-15). That means God’s Kingdom is breaking in upon us and can be experienced now. If that is true, where do we find it?
An Eager Question
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 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
The Pharisees had an expectation that the Kingdom of God was coming. They were well versed in the writings of the prophets that foretold of a day when God Himself would be their King. John the Baptist and Jesus had both recently been proclaiming that the Reign of God was breaking in upon them. Now that Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem (Luke 17:11), they were probably eager to know if the Kingdom was about to suddenly show up once He arrived there.
It’s Not Coming Like You Think
In response to their inquiry, Jesus tells them the Kingdom would not come like they might have expected it too. There would be no King riding in on a white stallion. There would be no army suddenly showing up out of the desert led by a conquering military leader. It was not going to be something they could point to and identify. Then Jesus said something that must have set them back a step.
In the Midst of You?
Several versions of the New Testament translate this as “The Kingdom of God is within you.” This is a most unfortunate rendering of Jesus words, especially when you think of who He was addressing. It could not be said that the Kingdom was within the Pharisees. Their outward show of piety was but a thin veil covering their inward corruption. It would not be too much later when Jesus would tell them the Kingdom would be taken away from them and be given to a people producing its fruits (Matthew 21:43). He might have been able to say the Kingdom was within the Church if the Church had been in existence, which it wasn’t. So we need to set this rendering aside and consider what He really said.
The best way of translating this passage is as we see it in the English Standard Version above. He was telling them that the Kingdom was already present, and that it was right in their midst. How sad that they missed it! But what, exactly, did Jesus mean?
That is the subject of the next post in this series. Finding out where the Kingdom of God is located will be a great help to living in the Reign.