BUT FIRST HE MUST SUFFER
Key Verse: 17:25
"But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by
1. Read verse 20. What kind of kingdom was probably in the minds of
the Pharisees? What was their human and spiritual situation?
2. How did Jesus answer them? (20,21) What did Jesus mean by "careful
observation"? What does he mean by, "The kingdom of God is within
you"? (Jn 4:24) Why did the Pharisees need to hear this message?
3. What does Jesus teach his disciples about God's time and the
kingdom's coming? How will the world know when Jesus comes again?
What warning does Jesus give about false messiahs? (22-24)
4. What must Jesus do before coming in glory? How does he reveal God's
will for world salvation? (Mk 13:10) What was wrong with the people
of Noah's and Lot's times? (25-37) Why must we live as the holy
People are extremely distressed and suffering and staring at one
another with dreadful premonitions. Today Jesus tells us what kind of
mission we must accomplish in this world as the children of God.
First, the kingdom of God is within you (20-21).
Once, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.
When the noble Pharisees asked about the kingdom of God to Jesus,
obviously they had an ulterior motive. For example, even during the
time from Abraham to Jesus, there had been an Arab world. Now, there
are 19 Arabic countries. Among them, we sent missionaries to eight
Arabic countries. Geographically speaking, Israel is part of the Arab
world. Strangely, it is where Abraham bought a piece of land from
Ephron the Hittite, one of the hundreds of petty kings of the Arab
world at that time. In view of history, all the civilizations and
people of the Arab world, even the civilizations of Egypt and
Mesopotamia and Greece, were buried in the earth and they are now being
excavated little by little. Because of this, classical scholars, who
had believed the Bible was a kind of myth or episode, began to believe
that the Bible is the written word of God. The most striking fact is
that Abraham bought the land and Abraham's descendants preserved it. It
has been preserved for the last 4,000 years. As we know well, the
Arabic world is aggressive and belligerent. In the ancient world,
Israel could not racially flourish because of enemies' constant attack.
The modern time is the same. Arab nations in 1929 attacked Israel
ferociously. They again attacked in 1936 and virtually wiped it out.
When Israeli soldiers entered Hebron during the Six-Day War in 1967,
not one Jew had lived there during one generation. But a modest
settlement was reestablished in 1970. God was with his people Israel.
Because of unbearable hardships, within and without, the majority of
Israelites emmigrated and lived outside the country. But there were
always remnants who kept God's covenant with Abraham and lived in
When Jesus was on the earth to do the Messianic ministry, the people
of Israel were under the Roman rule. Most religious leaders could not
but compromise with Roman authority so as to maintain their own faith.
At that time it was good, but their children were corrupt. They were
like modern Christians in China. But because of their unbearable
suffering, they fell into hallucination. Most Pharisees who wanted to
keep their national identity and their faith heritage had to have a
realistic hope. It was the earthly messianic kingdom; and it was their
sheer hallucination. They were like drowning people who want to grab a
piece of ice on the surface. Anyway, they formulated the messianic
kingdom by quoting many Old Testament Bible verses. Their hope in the
earthly messianic kingdom was the power source to overcome their hard
lives. We know how Romans oppressed Israelites. But they never curbed
their pride and belief, because they had an idea that the messianic
kingdom would come.
How did Jesus answer them? Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does
not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it
is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you"
(20-21). Of course, in Bible terms the kingdom of God comes after death
as well as after the judgment of God. Therefore, the kingdom of God is
spiritual and it is forever. The kingdom of God is invisible. Yet the
kingdom of God is perceived by those who believe in God who is spirit
(Jn 4:24). There are two kinds of people.
The first kind says that the earthly kingdom of God is coming. The
second kind is those who claim that the kingdom of God came and that
"he" or "she" is the Messiah. They mainly deceive naive and fearful
Christians. Three years ago, there was a noisy commotion. Many sincere
Christians were deceived by psychological witches. They insisted that
Jesus would come on October 28, 1992, at 9:00 p.m. Then they could
enjoy rapture. But it did not happen. They cried because they again had
to go back to the realities of the world. Historically this has been
repeated from the first century to the twentieth century, repeatedly
The Pharisees wished that the messianic kingdom would come and
Jerusalem would be the political power center and rule the whole world.
Of course, we understand that their hallucination painfully stemmed
from endless suffering. What was Jesus' answer to them? Jesus answered
them very clearly, "the kingdom of God is within you." Jesus' answer
was not what they had expected. They wanted political power. But Jesus
answered that one man's spiritual growth is the beginning of
experiencing the kingdom of God. Of course Jesus could tell them many
things about the coming of the kingdom of God. But to the Pharisees it
was a proper answer. Jesus is saying that they should receive the
spirit of repentance, repent and grow spiritually until they can see
and enter the kingdom of God.
We can see many examples of those who saw the kingdom of God and
obtained the qualification of entering the kingdom of God. There was a
Roman centurion under whom 100 soldiers were allotted. It is easy for
us to understand a centurion when we think about Massala in the movie,
"Ben Hur." He could have been very arrogant and he could have treated
his servant like spoiled food when he became useless. But this
centurion was different. His joy was to see his slave boy polish his
boots and hear him say, "Good morning Captain, sir!" But one day, the
slave boy buried his head between his legs; he was having breathing
difficulties due to a high fever. The centurion saw that the slave boy
was dying. Suddenly, his tears flew down, streaming on his cheeks. He
was inspired to visit the elders of the synagogue to ask their favor to
go to Jesus and ask him to heal the boy. The elders were happy to grant
the centurion's request, because they knew that he was a good man.
Usually, the Pharisees would fully dress up when they went out
somewhere. But this time, they ran to Jesus in their pajamas and
explained the situation of the centurion. Jesus was happy to see the
kindness of the centurion toward the sick slave boy and healed the boy.
To this centurion, his Roman citizenship or his position of centurion
or himself was less than nothing. In other words, he was a humble man.
He loved and valued one slave boy's life because he loved God in his
heart. Maybe he heard the gospel of Jesus by the mouth of others.
There was another centurion who was dispatched to Judah. According
to gospel narratives, he was possibly the captain of the soldiers who
were appointed to execute Jesus on the cross. In the world of soldiers,
"order is order" and "duty is duty," that's all. As a centurion, he had
to execute the order for the crucifixion of Jesus. Humanly speaking, he
was the one who nailed Jesus on the cross and shed his blood. But
through dying Jesus, he saw the Son of God. And through Jesus' prayers
on the cross, he could hear the divine voice from heaven. Luke 23:47
says, "The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said,
'Surely this was a righteous man.'" In other words, he meant he is God,
for no one is righteous in the world. The centurion saw righteousness
in Jesus. He saw the kingdom of God in Jesus. His occupation was
killing and destroying and nothing else. But he had spiritual eyes to
see the Son of God in Jesus, because God made him one of his precious
sons. In this part, we are greatly moved by the fact that Jesus really
wanted his chosen people to repent and take care of God's flock with
all their hearts. So he said, "The kingdom of God is within you."
Second, but first he must suffer many things (22-25).
Then Jesus said, "The time is coming when you will long to see one
of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it" (22). This
tells us that the kingdom of God comes at God's appointed time. But the
disciples of Jesus were not privileged to see the coming of the kingdom
of God. The disciples were startled because they had the same idea as
the Pharisees that the earthly messianic kingdom would come through
Jesus, because it had been long awaited. After saying this, Jesus
warned them, "Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not
go running off after them." When the world is extremely evil, most
people despair. After they come back to their senses, they hope for
messiahs to come. Then clever people disguise themselves and claim to
be messiahs. Jesus told his disciples not to be deceived by these
people. We must know that there was a danger even for Jesus' disciples
to be deceived by the false messiahs.
Jesus said in verse 25, "But first he must suffer many things and be
rejected by this generation." This indicates that before the coming of
the kingdom of God, God's will for world salvation must be fulfilled as
was promised. For this, Jesus must suffer many things and be rejected
by this generation. Most people think that when they believe in Jesus,
they would be abundantly blessed and their lives would be like
paradise. But Jesus said, "But first he must suffer many things and be
rejected by this generation." When he saw the world, Jesus could have
despaired and abandoned the world as it was. But Jesus said in Mark
13:10, "And the gospel must first be preached to all nations." Jesus
did not see the vicious world situation. But Jesus had on his mind
God's will for world salvation. The gospel must be preached to the
whole world. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the
kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all
nations, and then the end will come."
When we think about Jesus' words, "he must suffer many things," we
learn that the children of God also suffer much to proclaim the gospel
of salvation to the whole world. When we do so, instead of paychecks,
we receive much persecutions. The children of God, however, must be
willing to participate in the remaining suffering of Jesus to save the
world. This was quite contrary to the wishes of the disciples. Jesus
clearly told them that they must participate in the suffering of Jesus.
They must be despised and rejected by men in order to proclaim the
gospel of salvation to the whole world. What a ridiculous idea compared
with the earthly messianic kingdom.
Jesus taught them that the proclamation of the gospel of salvation
is not easy because the world is evil. He gave two examples. First is
the time of Noah. The characteristic of Noah's time was that people
were slaves of the social consensus. They did not listen to the gospel
of salvation through Noah. They enjoyed physical pleasures until the
water of judgment came up to their necks and soon to their breathing
noses. Jesus explained to his disciples the hard world in which the
proclamation of the gospel of salvation is difficult. But Jesus
encouraged his disciples to participate in the remaining suffering of
Jesus and fulfill God's world salvation purpose. Now we pray that God
may make America a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and raise
10,000 Bible teachers in our generation. Jesus knows that it is not
easy for us to carry out this mission. But we did not choose God, God
chose us and appointed us to bear much fruit (Jn 15:16). For this, we
must suffer and give our hearts.
Third, one will be glorified, the other will be condemned (30-37).
Why did Jesus order this impossible task to his disciples as well as
to us? Because of the living hope of the kingdom of God. Verse 24
says, "For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which
flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other." Again, verse
30 says, "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is
revealed." These verses tell us that Jesus comes again to take us back
to his kingdom. These verses also give us clear direction how to live
in this generation. We should not live like Lot's wife. We should not
despair. We should suffer to proclaim the gospel of Jesus as Jesus
There are many people who say, "I am a born-again Christian." These
kinds of people are countless like the stars in the sky. But Jesus
warns in verse 34, "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one
bed; one will be taken and the other left." May God take up everyone to
heaven together with your coworker. Verse 35 is the same example. Jesus
said this so that we may have a personal faith and a living hope of the
kingdom of God and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus said this
so that we may be right with God as pilgrims on earth. The disciples
were surprised to hear this. But Jesus replied, "Where there is a dead
body, there the vultures will gather" (37). It means that holy
pilgrims finally enter the kingdom of God. But ungodly people will be
under the power of death.
In this passage, we learn that the world is very hard. But we must
believe that the kingdom of God comes at God's right time. We must
proclaim the gospel of salvation and rejoice to live as the holy
pilgrims until the glorious day comes.