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Luke 17 v 25. “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Jesus said that times would come when his disciples “will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man”. In other words, there would be times, when spiritually, there would be such worldwide tumult and the world will be so up-side-down that His disciples would long for just one of his days on earth to be repeated. But before that can happen, before his glorious appearing, a massive event has to take place. “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation”.

This obviously refers to our Lord’s trial, rejection by the authorities and his execution, which at this point in Luke’s narrative still lay in the future. But it serves another purpose as well. As long as He is rejected, not only by Israel, but the community of nations as well, so long would his return be held back. It would constitute the era of the preaching of the Gospel. But the point here is that it explains why there would be such shock, surprise and unpreparedness amongst the people when it happens.

Jesus uses two analogies to drive home this lesson of sudden disaster. The first is “the days of Noah” (v 26). Sometimes we fail to remember that Noah was more than simply the man who built the ark. He was also a “preacher of righteousness “ (2 Peter 2 v 5). Presumably he preached to the people about the coming judgement of God, while he built the ark. But the people simply did not believe him. Then the rain started, the flood came and surprised them all.

How frightening that must have been. Yes, indeed it was. But remember that Noah preached first to these people, giving all an opportunity to repent. If you put Generis 5 v 32 with Genesis 7 v 6 it seems likely that it took a hundred years to build the ark and perhaps a hundred years of preaching with opportunity to repent. But they did not. Life went on as normal for all these years. People were born, married, eating, drinking – doing all the normal things. Then the end came.

This, says Jesus is how it will be when the Kingdom of God comes visibly. It will be sudden and overwhelming.

How good God is to give us His Gospel as both a warning and the hope to which we can cling, so that, when that day comes it will not catch us unawares.