Then He said to His disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won't see it.
People will tell you, 'Look, there is the Son of Man,' or 'Here he is,' but don't go out and follow them.
For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes.
But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation. (Luke 17:22-25)
Some of you may have wondered why I divided this short section from the verses yesterday. Simple really, because these comments are directed toward the disciples. The Pharisees open the issue with their question on when the Kingdom of God will come. Then it appears that the Pharisees either fade out of the picture and Jesus turns to the disciples to continue the explanation with them or perhaps Jesus and the disciples continue their journey on the way to Jerusalem again and Jesus continues the explanation.
Jesus takes up the issue of when the Kingdom will come but He doesn’t answer "the when" at all. Rather He picks up on another angle on the Coming Kingdom. You will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns – BUT YOU WON'T SEE IT. There is a lot to comment on in this one verse alone. So I will just work my way through it all piece by piece. Firstly note the use of the Son of Man four times in four verses. To save space here I won't go into detail on the explanation of the saying the Son of Man. Rather I will point you to Gem 15. Suffice to say here the terms Son of Man and Son of God are terms for the Messiah. Some even see them as paralleling the Messiah Son of Joseph and Messiah son of David. If that is the case then this is a strong link to the Suffering Servant. I will leave you to ponder that one and connect the dots – it's deep and will take you a while. But for the moment I will move on to the other interesting things this verse and this passage contains.
Literally the wording of verse 22 reads: And He said to the disciples, Days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and will not see. (LITV)
The term one of the days of the Son of Man is pregnant with meaning. The word [heis] means "one" but it can also mean "even just one" or it can also be a synonym for "first" meaning longing for the first day of the series of the period begun by coming of the Son of Man. This may allude to the Rabbinic saying "the days of the Messiah" which referred to the period of the Messiah's reign. I.e. The beginning of the millennial reign of the Messiah. But this reference is different again. It appears to refer to the beginning of the period of time initiated by the parousia – the Appearing. Indeed that is the setting described in verse 24.
Before the onset of the Kingdom coming in its fullness, there will be the time of the coming of the Son of Man. This is a time of tribulation on the earth. It is for this reason you will long for the return of the Messiah. It will be so bad that you will want to see even just one of the days of the Son of Man or the first day on which the Son of Man returns to reign and ends all tribulation. The coming of the Son of Man is not the coming of the Kingdom. Rather it refers to when the Son of Man will come to take His children / followers away from the Tribulation. The coming of the Kingdom refers to the time following His appearing and His triumphant return for the Judgment Day following which the glorious rule of God on earth will begin.
It is curious that Jesus said you will not see it; the "you" referring to the disciples. That time would not come during their life time. I don't imagine Jesus told the disciples that this referred to a time a long time into the future. Jesus Himself didn’t know the day. But He seems to be saying they would experience times of great tribulation (but not The Great Tribulation) and would wish to experience even just one of the glory days of the Kingdom but it won't happen. Rather in the last verse of this group of four (verse 25) Jesus reminds them again of the suffering the Son of Man will endure. He will be rejected by this generation; by His contemporaries now (in the time this statement was made).
What is interesting about Biblical prophecy or statements related to End Times is the fact that Hebrew prophetic statements are not necessarily linear by nature. In other words they don't apply to just one time period when the prophetic statement might apply at a moment in time. Rather they are cyclic. They apply once and then apply again and then apply again. There are numbers of applications or fulfillments of a prophetic statement. The time of suffering applied to Jesus, it applied to the disciples at a later time, it applied to the Jewish people after the time of Jesus and then has applied to His disciples at various times subsequently. It will apply again and again until it applies for the last and final time at the end of the age, which will be the most severe. But Jesus tells them, they would not be around at that time.
Be warned: people will tell you the Son of Man has come. Does this apply to Jesus coming at the time of the disciples? Yes most likely. It seems there have been those in every time period who have claimed the Messiah has come. Such deceivers were there the first time He came and they will certainly be there the second time. Most Jews of the day were not aware that there were two Comings. They figured that when He came the first time that would be the time when the Kingdom would be ushered in. No, they had it wrong even way back then. Don't be duped. The kingdom is not going to be geographically based and neither is the final coming of the Son of Man. Don't be sucked in by people who tell you it is "here" or "there". Don't follow people who tell you that. You can know that it is a deception. If people try to tell you the timing of the Coming of the Son of Man – the hour, the day, the date – then you can know with surety it is wrong. Jesus makes that much clear. No one will know the timing of the coming of the Son of Man (Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32). If someone tells you otherwise you will know what they are telling you is false. "The when" is unknown. It is a secret only God knows. Likewise don't let anyone tell you "the where". If they tell you the Son of Man has come and He is over "here" you can know that too is false.
The Son of Man will not sneak back on to this earth! When He came the first time He came as a vulnerable babe to be the Messiah, the Son of Joseph. His birth place was predicted but it was kept under wraps. When the Son of Man comes as Messiah, the Son of David, you won't need anyone to tell you where He is or when He will appear. Every eye will see Him. He will split the skies and appear in all His radiant glory. But before that He will come back for His own, those who faithfully believe in Him. When He comes at that time He will come like a thief in the night. There are two events mixed up in these verses. Two different appearings of the Messiah are being describe here. When He comes in His glory, when He comes as Messiah the Reigning King, it will be like the lightening that lights up the sky only on a more global basis. Currently lightening only lights the sky where the electrical storm is. It is localized. But let me tell you, when the Son of Man comes at the end of the Age to rule no one will miss seeing Him. You will know something cataclysmic is happening. Even if you wanted to miss it you won't be able to. Every eye will see the event.
There are many who think that is because we have global TV channels these days and so with the kinds of news links we have, an event like that will be broadcast around the world instantly. Therefore we are living in the Media Age where it is indeed possible for every eye to see Him. But I don't believe it will happen like that. I believe that when Christ comes back as King to reign He won't need Global Media coverage. It will be something that the world will see happen without TV gimmicks. No one will need to point it out to you. Everyone on earth at the time will know it instantly and furthermore they will know the significance of the event and what the implications are. God placed eternity the hearts of every man and every woman who has ever or will ever walk this earth. They will not need it to be explained. Neither will they need anyone else to tell them it is happening. It will be crystal clear from horizon to horizon all over the world. Every eye will see Him simply because the Creator will have returned to His creation to rule it as was originally intended.
One secular view: Don't count on any second coming, God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here. (I've got news for you)
If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, a considerable number of stations would decline it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable. Edward R Murrow (Got news for you too, Edward Murrow)
Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news . . . John Updike
The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears!
There are 100 billion galaxies. Why so much space for so few earth dwellers? The heavens are telling the glory of God not man. John Piper
And they will once more in a new and different way; you just wait. Ian
Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in New Zealand
God has prepared a 'GOOD END' for you,..if your NOW ain't Good,..then It is not THE END Jonny Herjawan