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This morning the Pharisees question Jesus about the coming kingdom of God. To their credit, unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees actually did believe in something of a coming age, a kingdom promised by God. And to their credit they also believed in a resurrection. But as we’ll see this morning, they were utterly blind to what, or more accurately, they were blind to who that kingdom was.

“Jesus, when will the kingdom of God finally come?” Jesus answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘look, here it is!’ or ‘look over there!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

You see, folks have always had a tendency to look around for strange signs or extraordinary circumstances for the breaking in of God’s kingdom; every bizarre cult is an example of this; but here Jesus lets them in on a profound secret. The kingdom of God is right here, and it’s right now. And, in fact, you’re looking at it!

Remember with what words John the Baptist introduced Christ to the world? Pointing to Christ he exclaimed, “Behold, the kingdom of heaven draws near!” You see, Jesus is the kingdom in human flesh. But sadly, this wonderful mystery, which is the key to joy in this life by the way, was totally missed by those Pharisees!  

They shouldn’t have missed it, and they had no excuse to, because just prior to our Gospel today, Jesus had just healed the ten lepers. Remember that one? All ten marched off to the temple to worship God in thanks for this healing, but only one made it there. Only one turned back and fell at Jesus’ feet and worshipped Him.

That is, only one of those who were healed understood and recognized that Jesus was the true temple made in human flesh – so he had to turn back and worship God where He is to be worshiped and adored, which is Christ our Lord. For in Him and Him alone was the kingdom and the power and glory forever and ever.

Now just think about it. The Pharisees, just after witnessing this healing miracle, and seeing a Samaritan turn and worship the very Lord of Life foolishly start asking when the kingdom of God will come. I hope you see the absurdity of it all? The in-breaking of God’s kingdom was right before their eyes, as they peered at the incarnation of God in human flesh in Jesus. They were literally staring at the kingdom but didn’t realize it.

How patient our Lord is with them. How kind. He uses this as an opportunity and continues to teach. Want to know more about the coming of the kingdom and reign of God? As the lightnings flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will be the Son of Man in His day. That is, when Christ comes again in glory at the consummation of the age, no one will miss it. It will be as evident to all as lightning that fills the whole sky.

And then Jesus speaks about His suffering, His death, and rejection. After all, how could our Lord possibly teach us about his kingdom apart from His holy cross, apart from suffering and rejection? 

He reminds us of faithful Noah, who was mocked and scorned in his own day. Or Lot in his. These days folks are falling into the same trap as those who mocked the Word of God prior to the waters flooding the earth or Sodom going up in sulfur and smoke. They made the mistake of thinking life just always goes on as it has, and they willfully ignore the creaking and tottering of this age as it prepares to collapse, and give way to the new.

But here’s the thing. This old world is still spinning around for only one reason. Heaven and the earth and sun and moon are so governed and held in place for one solitary aim: that more would come to repentance, that more would believe in the Gospel, that more would be saved, so that God’s elect would be gathered from the ends of the earth, God desiring all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The world thinks us foolish for this. Foolish for holding outdated ideas about judgment, and wrath, and forgiveness and grace. The world thinks you foolish and hateful for believing in God’s gift of marriage, morality, the dignity of life in the womb, and the doctrine of Christ: His incarnation,  His death and resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand in heaven. The world mocks us – scorns us – just like the folks in Noah’s day or the folks in Sodom and Gomorrah. Our day is no different. 

But here’s the thing. Someday, the unbelieving world will wake up in horror to discover that everything we’ve been speaking about and confessing is true. But, sadly for them, it will be too late. For the Lord will descend from the heavens with the cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the blast of a trumpet, and all the heavens and earth will shake. And all the dead will be raised. All will stand before God. All will give an account.

Those believing and baptized, those faithful whose sins were all put away will gladly enter into the joy of their master. But the scoffers, the unbelievers, those who stubbornly spurned the love of God and were ashamed of His Word, will be condemned to eternal death.

Dear friends, our Lord’s words to us this morning are pure Gospel. Because God this very day comes to His own not to destroy but to save. The kingdom of God comes to you this morning in ways you would not think to look for, expect, or perhaps even want, but here they are. This morning Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Don’t miss it like those Pharisees. Instead, open your eyes. Open your hearts to the words and promises of God and you’ll see amazing things.

Oh, He’s coming again on the Last Day, no doubt about it and it will be spectacular – but don’t miss the kingdom which is also right here and right now, right under your nose. Just listen to the breaking in of God’ gracious kingdom when He uses a preacher’s humble voice to communicate His love – absolving you from all the sins that trouble you. Open your eyes and see God’s kingdom breaking into this place – as God’s own forgiving blood is held up in the chalice and pressed to your sin-parched lips. Don’t miss God’s kingdom breaking into this world in the forgiveness you share with each other, your kindness, your generosity, your love for each other – all fruits of Christ and His kingdom.    

Dear Christians, you are baptized and you are members of a royal kingdom. In Baptism you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

This means that when Christ comes again, He will be shown before all in all His glory – but so will you, that’s the incredible thing! Finally, at last, you will be completely free from sin, resplendent in glory before all as the son or daughter you were always intended to be, with the glory God gave you in your Baptism, but now revealed.

Dear friends of God, the kingdom of God is in your midst. And the risen and ascended Lord is truly with us. May Christ continue to sustain us by His grace and Holy Spirit until He comes again and tenderly lifts us up from our graves. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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