Jesus healed ten lepers and only the one Samaritan returned to worship and give thanks. Jesus confirmed how it was his faith that healed him. As the writer of Hebrews notes, faith is the assurance of things we cannot perceive with our senses. That is important to the teaching that follows.
The Pharisees asked Jesus when He would establish His Messianic Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was that it was the wrong question. That is, it’s the wrong approach to understanding Jesus and His teachings, and it was the based on a lot of false expectations about the Messiah. For the Pharisees, the whole subject of the Messiah was closed in their minds, so anything that didn’t match their catalog of assumptions was treated as false teaching.
Jesus sets them straight: The Messianic Kingdom would be a kingdom of hearts, not of men and political structures. They were asking for a concrete statement of time, and their next question would have been the place. But that was the wrong approach. The kingdom was going to be in the hearts of those who followed His teaching.
Then He turned to His disciples. Luke’s narrative skips over an issue that was obvious to him, but not to most Western readers. If this Kingdom of Heaven was going to be solely in the hearts of the Messiah’s followers, that means there will be no crushing conquest to destroy the current political mess in which they lived. Instead, they were supposed to live with a foot in each realm, one on earth and one in Heaven. The Kingdom was rooted in Heaven, not on this world. It was supposed to be invisible to human perception, but discernible to devoted hearts.
Thus, Jesus notes that there would be times when His subjects would long for a visitation from the Messiah to wash away the moral filth of this world, but such was not coming. There would be no “Day of the Lord” in that sense. Days of wrath, for sure, but nothing that would establish a Messianic kingdom in this world. There will be only one Day of the Lord, and that’s the Return of Christ.
It will not be a surprise or a secret from His followers. Nobody will come around and announce where and when to meet with Him somewhere in the midst of everyday life. No, when Christ returns, it will be as earth-shaking as lightening and thunder arcing across the whole sky, from one horizon to the other. You’ll know; you won’t miss it.
It won’t be soon, of course. There is still a lot of hard trials for Jesus, and the final rejection of Him by His own nation. This will set them up for the wrath of that Last Day. It will be like all those people who ignored Noah’s preaching, and suddenly the flood came and washed them away. It will be like it was for Sodom and Gomorrah, snickering at Lot’s warnings. But as soon as Lot was barely a safe distance away, fire and brimstone fell from the sky on those cities. The final, ultimate revelation of Christ to all humanity will come just like that.
Nobody will have time to pack up their stuff. Even if you could run, it wouldn’t do you any good. Don’t forget what happened to Lot’s wife. People who cling to this world will be destroyed with it. If you try to save this life, you will surely lose it, primarily because you tried to save it. If you live with a readiness to abandon this life, you’ll save something far more precious — eternal life.
Imagine how it will look. Two people sleeping in a bed and one is taken away for judgment, while the other is left to see the new day dawning. Or perhaps two will be grinding flour at the mill, and one is snatched away to face God’s wrath, while the other will be left alone. Two shall be out toiling in the field, and one is hauled off to face their sins. The other is left to see the end of sweaty labor.
The disciples ask where all the wretches will be taken. Jesus gives a very pungent answer: To find a rotting carcass, look for vultures. This is not meant in any literal sense. If they live to see that Day of the Lord, and are curious about what happened to those who rejected Christ as the ultimate revelation of God, it won’t be too hard to find out. Meanwhile, don’t worry about it. It’s the wrong kind of question.