January 09, 2023 | Peter Rowan
Passage: Luke 17:20-37
Epiphany is the revealing of God as the God for the World. The wise men from the East remind us that Jesus hasn't just come for the Jews or that God's grace isn't localized to one place and to one people. Even so, though God's grace may be for the world, few have the eyes, ears and hearts, to see it, hear it and receive it. So, Jesus here in Luke 18 tells us, "The Kingdom of God is coming in ways that cannot be observed." The Kingdom of God was in their midst as Jesus and yet, as he goes on, he explains that he was rejected. The very thing that was longed for in Jesus is rejected when he came among them in ways that they didn't expect.
Today is this first Sunday in Epiphany after epiphany. It starts this season in the church calendar that we sort of focus specifically on God how God has revealed himself shown himself. This is why at least at our church, we always spend this time in the Gospel books. And if you're keeping track, this is actually the eighth epiphany. We've been in Luke. Document the last one actually, as I've mapped it out.
But God has taken on flesh. That's what we celebrate in Christmas. And he's revealed Himself in Jesus. In His incarnation. He's appeared and he's revealing who he is. And of course, the passage is most often used and epiphany is the passage of the Wiseman right God for the world, not just God localized for the Jews, but God for the world. He's revealing that he's for anyone who has ears to hear, or heart that soft to receive, I have to see him. He reveals those who are looking for life and those who are seeking death. I think it's actually really, really appropriate that we're here in the middle of Luke chapter 17 for epiphany. It's not the normal text, but it's a text that seems very fitting, because epiphany is this revealing of God but when God is when God has revealed, it's never just about the revelation of God, it's also about the revelation of humankind. What do we do with him? Do we receive him? Are we like the Wiseman that are searching after him, that we might worship him? Give him our offering ourselves? Are we like Herod seeking death and destruction? When God has revealed it's always not just the revelation of God, but us too. And that's what happens here in this passage.
So okay, that's very simple. I've got kind of two main points are revealing of God and the revealing of humankind, okay, two points. Look with me down at the passage just the first little bit. 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, are there for behold the kingdom of God. It's in the midst of you. Here's the question that they were coming to Jesus with. "When will it come? When will it come?" That's the question. We want to know what time You have to understand that the Jews long ago really like sort of everyone around the world actually they had, they had what's called an eschatology and understanding of the end times the end days, what would happen in those last events. The prophets of the Old Testament like we read about, and Amos and and many others, spoke of the day of the Lord. A day when God revealed himself in grace and in judgment, that's what we heard there in Amos. And for the most part, then just like it is today, everyone thought they would be on the right side of that revealing. So when would it come that they might be revealed to be the ones that are in the right, right, the Pharisees like, "hey, when when's the kingdom of God gonna come? So that everybody can know that we got it?" Right, and they didn't. The Jews had this understanding and, and, of course, the understanding of the End Times was tied to the their idea of the Messiah, right, the promised one that would come the seed of the woman, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the son of David, the promised one. And you might know this, but Jesus wasn't the only sort of Messiah that was around sort of around that time, there were other people that were there claiming to be the Messiah. But of course, Jesus was this one that was proclaiming the kingdom of God. And so people were asking, "Well, is this going to be the time? Is this going to be the time Jesus is saying that he's proclaiming the kingdom of God? When's it gonna come?" Some of you, when you hear this passage, you think of all the time, sort of in our own day, maybe especially in the 20th century, but even now, we're Christians have just been obsessed with the timing of when is God going to come finally come and reveal himself fully in grace and judgment? When is it going to happen? Will we be ready?
The Gospel of Luke is best described by its author in the first four verses of the book: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."