Sunday

2 December 2012

Luke 21:25-36

"So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near." (v. 31)


Background

This apocalyptic vision of the end times has the feel of a sci-fi film where the natural rhythms of creation are violently out of synch. It is as if nature itself is to testify to the coming judgement of the nations.

And who is to be the judge? It will be the Son of Man (verse 36). Surely (although some scholars contest it) it is a reference to Daniel 7:9-14 where "one like a human being" (son of man) is presented to "the Ancient One" who gives him an everlasting "dominion, glory and kingship" over all the "people, nations and languages".

Jesus seems to be identifying his future self with this vision of cataclysmic events that signifies the end of history and the kingdom of God come in all its fullness.

Jesus then goes on to tell a parable which locates the followers of Christ in the story. Their role is to read the signs of the times and be ready for the coming kingdom. Just as a fig tree coming into leaf is a signal that summer is coming, so the events Jesus describes are a recognition that God is going to act decisively in our time.

But surely every generation could identify natural disaster and the suffering plight of humanity through war, disease and famine as a sign that the end times are coming and that Jesus is to return? How are we meant to take these things seriously?

Perhaps the role of the follower isn't simply to see disaster around every corner, but to immerse themselves so fully in the story of God that it becomes easy to identify the kingdom in different and sometimes perplexing contexts. Perhaps the role of the follower is not to be the prophet of doom, but to live with an expectancy and an urgency that God will do something in our time.


To Ponder

  • How do you immerse yourself in the story of God?
  • Where do you see signs of God's kingdom in your local context?
  • What do you think about the idea of Jesus returning as judge?



Bible notes author

The Revd Simon Sutcliffe

Simon Sutcliffe is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church currently working part time as the tutor for evangelism and church growth at Queen's Foundation, Birmingham and part time as a pioneer minister with Venture FX establishing new forms of Christian community in the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District. Simon has four children who help to keep him grounded and in a constant cycle of tidying up(!), and is deeply disappointed that none of them support Bradford City..