Luke 17 v 33. “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
We all know how easily we can be taken up with material things, to the exclusion of the spiritual and the eternal. Here we have the amazing scenario of Christ warning people that on the very day that He appears in glory – the visible Kingdom now coming to earth – on that very day, while God’s wrath is falling on evil centres of human power and all are faced with the coming judgement, there will be those who will be tempted to go back to the house or the city to get their favourite things, because they cannot imagine life without them. And so for the sake of these things they will lose their lives also (17 verses 31-33).
When the flood came upon the earth it swept all possessions away (Matthew 24 v 39). The believing and righteous people, few in number, were in the ark and were kept safe. This is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
Our Lord uses the picture of two people lying in bed or two people grinding corn, and one of the two is taken while the other is left. Here is a picture that illustrates that in the middle of the Kingdom arriving visibly and seen by all, the reality of the unseen Kingdom is not negated. In other words even in the closest family relationships the Lord himself draws a line between those who have the Kingdom in their hearts, and those who do not. The surprise of the coming visible Kingdom lies not only in its suddenness, but also in discovering who are saved and who are not saved.
The disciples once again are unable to picture what our Lord is saying to them and thus inquire “Where Lord?” (v 37).
It seems they have not grasped the finality of this event. Where are the people taken to? They ask. Our Lord’s reply in v 37 is puzzling to say the least. What does this mean?
It is a difficult proverbial saying. It probably refers back to the visible coming of the Kingdom and means simply that just as people can see vultures from far away, circling in the air, so Christ’s return in judgement will be visible and predictable.
Another view implies that the vultures suggest the widespread Spiritual death that will accompany the second coming – that is, the death of those who have rejected his Kingdom.
In either case it will be impossible for people not to see and recognise the return of Christ.
Remember, that although this portion of scripture is solemn and true and a warning to all, when Jesus comes it will be also the gathering of all those who believed in him to be with him forever in a heaven of relationships such as we have never known on earth.