God’s Present Kingdom
Jesus shares a parable about a manager who shrewdly relaxes the outstanding balances of his master’s debtors so that they’ll help him after he gets fired. Surprisingly, the master commends him. He’s using his resources to plan for the future.
He tells another parable about a rich man who is cruel to a poor man named Lazarus. Lazarus goes to heaven, while the rich man goes to hell and begs Lazarus for help. Sadly, not even a spectacular sign, like a person returning from the dead, can change those whose hearts are set against God’s word.
Jesus sends ten men with leprosy to be examined by the priests. On the way they all get healed, but only one—a Samaritan—humbly returns to thank Jesus.
Some Pharisees ask Jesus when his kingdom will come. He says it won’t be observable because it’s in their midst—it’s already here for them to take part in.
Jesus tells two parables—about a persistent widow bugging a corrupt judge and about a Pharisee who is self-righteous before God versus a humble tax collector who’s not. In both parables, Jesus is teaching that his fair Father will see to it that justice is done.
The King’s Heart
“The kingdom of God is in your midst,” Jesus tells the Pharisees (Luke 17:21). Rather than a hidden secret that needs to be unveiled, God’s kingdom is there with the Pharisees, ready for them to enter as active participants.
God’s heart-desire is for his people to live in his kingdom—where he reigns, and where love, joy, justice, peace and goodness are the laws of the land. Jesus wants to clarify that his kingdom isn’t just coming at some point in the future, like the Pharisees were thinking. It is already here, in the present, in their everyday lives. God’s kingdom is where justice is done, where love is lived out—where this world that we live in here and now is a glimpse of heaven. God wants the Pharisees and everyone to join in his kingdom and become actively involved in spreading it. And then, one day, he will usher in the kingdom completely.
Jesus explains that “the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John” (see Luke 16:16-17). The Law and the Prophets served their roles through the time of John the Baptist, but Jesus is doing something new. At the same time, not one word of the Law and the Prophets is to be dropped—the Law and the Prophets approve of the new thing Jesus is doing. They’ve been pointing to him, but they can’t accomplish what he is out to do.