When the Son of Man Is Revealed
WHILE Jesus is still in the north (either in Samaria or in Galilee), Pharisees ask him about the arrival of the Kingdom. They believe that it will come with great pomp and ceremony, but Jesus says: “The kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness, neither will people be saying, ‘See here!’ or, ‘There!’ For, look! the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Jesus’ words “in your midst” have at times been translated “within you.” So some have thought that Jesus meant that the Kingdom of God reigns in the hearts of God’s servants. But, obviously, the Kingdom of God is not within the hearts of these unbelieving Pharisees to whom Jesus is speaking. Yet, it is in their midst, since the designated King of God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ, is right among them.
It is probably after the Pharisees leave that Jesus talks further with his disciples about the coming of the Kingdom. He has particularly in mind his future presence in Kingdom power when he warns: “People will say to you, ‘See there!’ or, ‘See here!’ Do not go out or chase after [these false Messiahs]. For even as the lightning, by its flashing, shines from one part under heaven to another part under heaven, so the Son of man will be.” Hence, Jesus is indicating that just as lightning is seen over a wide area, the evidence of his presence in Kingdom power will be clearly visible to all wishing to observe it.
Jesus then draws comparisons with ancient events to show what the attitudes of people will be during his future presence. He explains: “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man . . . Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.”
Jesus is not saying that people in Noah’s day and in Lot’s day were destroyed simply because they pursued the normal activities of eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building. Even Noah and Lot and their families did these things. But the others went about such daily activities without paying any attention to God’s will, and it was for this reason that they were destroyed. For the same reason, people will be destroyed when Christ is revealed during the great tribulation on this system of things.
Emphasizing the importance of responding quickly to the evidence of his future presence in Kingdom power, Jesus adds: “On that day let the person that is on the housetop but whose movable things are in the house not come down to pick these up, and the person out in the field, let him likewise not return to the things behind. Remember the wife of Lot.”
When the evidence of Christ’s presence appears, people cannot let attachment to their material possessions hinder them from taking prompt action. On her way out of Sodom, Lot’s wife apparently looked back longingly for the things left behind, and she became a pillar of salt.
Continuing his description of the situation that would exist during his future presence, Jesus tells his disciples: “In that night two men will be in one bed; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned. There will be two women grinding at the same mill; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned.”
Being taken along corresponds to Noah’s entering with his family into the ark and the angels’ taking Lot and his family out of Sodom. It means salvation. On the other hand, being abandoned means suffering destruction.
At this point, the disciples ask: “Where, Lord?”
“Where the body is, there also the eagles will be gathered together,” Jesus answers. Those “taken along” for salvation are like farsighted eagles in that they gather together to “the body.” The body has reference to the true Christ at his invisible presence in Kingdom power and to the spiritual feast that Jehovah provides. Luke 17:20-37; Genesis 19:26.
▪ How was the Kingdom in the midst of the Pharisees?
▪ In what way is Christ’s presence like lightning?
▪ Why will people be destroyed for their actions during Christ’s presence?
▪ What does it mean to be taken along, and to be abandoned?