What is The World Going to Be Like When Jesus Returns + What Command of Jesus Made the Disciples Realize They Need More Faith? #342
Hello friends and happy Thursday! Today’s title is the longest title in the history of this or any other podcast, so my apologies for making you sit through such a verbose title! Today we are reading 2nd Chronicles 2, Nahum 1, Luke 17 and 1 John 2, and our focus passage, for both of our questions, is in Luke 17.
In this passage, Jesus gives the disciples a challenging teaching. In fact, it appears that this teaching is so challenging and daunting, that their response is a very simple plea for more faith, because they realize they can’t do it! That will be our first question, and our second happens a little further in the passage, where Jesus gives a pretty expansive description of what the world will be like when Jesus returns. Let’s read Luke 17 now and pay attention for the challenging command of Jesus and His description of the world when He returns.
Notice “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” This sounds like a desperate cry, right? What provoked such a request from them? We see it in vss. 3-4
3 Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Put yourself in this position: Somebody does something AGAINST you SEVEN times in ONE day. You and I, unless we have the patience of Job, are going to be pretty upset – that is a LOT of times to sin against somebody in one day. What does Jesus say? If someone sins against you and comes back and says, I repent – which means to turn away from the sin – and then keeps repeating that sin…we still must forgive them! Now, I can’t help but notice the oxymoron in this passage, and I guarantee you that it is in there intentionally. To repent means to turn away from something and do something else. If you are sinning and repenting seven times in a day, then you are NOT genuinely repenting – it is flippant, shallow, unmeant and careless, to say the least. And what does Jesus say for us to do when confronted by such meaningless and false repentance? We MUST forgive! How challenging – and the disciples immediately understood and knew how challenging it was, because they quickly cried out for more faith, because they knew that this was going to be very, very hard.
Why would Jesus command His disciples to do this? Because we have done this same sort of thing to God many times. We have asked forgiveness and turned around and did the same sin again, and again, and again, and asked for forgiveness…and God is faithful to forgive. Forgiving others is absolutely crucial, according to Jesus, because He teaches us this challenging truth in the Sermon on the Mount:
14 “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.
Forgiveness of others is crucial. If we don’t, then it is as if we aren’t recognizing that we ourselves are sinners and in great need of grace. Jesus tells us a wonderful parable about this dynamic:
21 Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?”22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven. 23 “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle accounts, one who owed ten thousand talents was brought before him. 25 Since he did not have the money to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. 26 “At this, the servant fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 Then the master of that servant had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. 28 “That servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’29 “At this, his fellow servant fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he wasn’t willing. Instead, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. 31 When the other servants saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. 32 Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And because he was angry, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18
This is one of those parables that is crystal clear to understand, and barely needs any commentary – Jesus is very, very clear that the Father forgiving the massive volumes of our sin debt is a much, much bigger deal than us forgiving a very small sin debt of somebody else towards us. Is forgiveness hard? It absolutely is…and thus the cry of the disciples for more faith! One book I can recommend for you if you are struggling with forgiving a particularly painful wound: Total Forgiveness by Dr. R.T. Kendall. It is a fantastic book, and I have had the privilege of spending some time with Dr. Kendall before, and found him to be an amazing, Godly,humble and delightful man.
Second topic: What will the world be like during the time immediately prior to the return of Jesus? Well, the Bible answers that question in various ways. Paul notes that there will be terrible times in the last days, because people will be selfish and godless. Jesus here gives us a different perspective on His return:
24 For as the lightning flashes from horizon to horizon and lights up the sky, so the Son of Man will be in his day.25 But first it is necessary that he suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man:27 People went on eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building.29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all.30 It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
We learn that the return of Jesus won’t be secret or a surprise. Over the centuries SO many people have claimed to be the second coming of Jesus, but Jesus immediately helps rule out ALL of those spurious claims by teaching that His return will be obvious, not hidden and unmistakable. Then He tells us that people will be going about their business on the earth, just as unaware of the pending return of Jesus as Sodom was on the day of its destruction or the people of Noah were unaware the day the flooding rains began. In other words, life will be going on all around the world and SUDDENLY, like a flash of lightning – the return of Jesus will happen, surprising people like the visit of a thief in the night. It will be a largely routine day all around the earth. People will be eating at McDonald’s, there will be weddings happening, maybe football games, people will be on their couch watching tv, out in the woods for a stroll, and BOOM, Jesus is returning. Should this return absolutely 100% take the church by surprise? Well, I believe the Bible is clear that we will NOT know the day or the hour, so yes – the day it happens WILL be surprising, but Paul does say this somewhat mysterious thing in 1 Thessalonians:
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the dark, for this day to surprise you like a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:4
And that tells me that this day will NOT be a total surprise to the people of God who are reading the Word, being led by the Spirit and eagerly awaiting the Master’s return. We won’t know exact timing, but – according to this passage…perhaps we will know the season – or at least know the time is drawing near?
So, I’ll close with the command of Jesus as to His return:
34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth.