Luke 17:21,22.---' The kingdom of God is within you. The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.'

1. We are told that the Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God should come. Strictly speaking, this implies that the kingdom of God was not there. It was purely in the future, and the Pharisees scanned the face of heaven and earth for tokens of its advent. They were literally on the look out for its approach. The answer of Jesus means that this attitude is wrong to begin with. The kingdom of God does not come with observation. It does not come with outward events to which you can point saying: Look here, or Look there. The Kingdom of God is within you.

This is the first thing we have to learn about the Kingdom: it is spiritual, and its seat is in the heart. Its felicities are enjoyed there, its loyalties are displayed there. So far as the world of rational and moral beings is concerned, it is wherever human hearts and wills bow before God as King. It can only come as God wins our souls for Himself and realizes a sovereignty on earth through the hearts and wills of His children---through our faith and love, our gratitude, joy and obedience.

2. All this is plain, but there is something in the very conception of a Kingdom that tends to carry us past this inward and individualistic point of view, and our Lord seems to have foreseen that this something, craving another satisfaction, would assert itself in the minds of the disciples. He said to them, 'The days will come when ye will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man.' Some have thought this meant that in the trying future which awaited them the disciples would wish they could have Jesus with them again for a day---that is, have Him back among them. But that is wrong ! A day of the Son of man does not mean another day of Jesus' company as they used to enjoy it in the days of His flesh; it means a day of the glorious sovereignty predicted for Him in the book of Daniel. They will long to see the time when the sovereignty of God is visibly and unchallengeably established on the earth, when war and all its horrors will have ceased, when there will be no more drunkenness and lust, no more oppression and cruelty, when the will of the Father will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And it is with reference to the desire to see one of these days that our Lord utters the solemn and startling words, 'Ye shall not see it.'

We must not run away with the idea that in the lips of Jesus these are words of despair. Nothing in all the Gospels is more indubitable than Jesus' assurance of victory. He does not say there never will be days of the Son of man, but only that when the disciples, under the stress of trials, long to see one of them, they will not see it. The state in which we live here will always make demands on faith and patience. Even when we have learned that the Kingdom of God is within us we shall still need to say to ourselves, He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

When Jesus lived among men, evil was strong enough to inflict the Cross upon Him; and nothing in His teaching, or in the New Testament anywhere, encourages us to expect in this world a state of things in which the Christian will be exempted from the cross. Let moral progress be as great as we can conceive, yet we will never come in the flesh to a condition in which goodness will be charmingly easy, and the following of Jesus the path of least resistance. The progress of the world is not in good only, or in bad only, but in the antagonism between the two: the Christian's watchword in it to the end is, The combat deepens: onward, ye brave.

3. Part of the trial of life, which makes people long for the great decisive change meant by the coming of the Son of man, is its monotony, or at all events its uniformity. When Jesus looks into the future, He does not see that in this respect it is going to be different from the past. As it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the Christian dispensation. They ate, they drank; they bought, they sold; they planted, they builded; they married wives, they were given in marriage. How could they not help it? All these things were imposed upon them; they were involved in the inevitable structure and working of human society. Yes, but how inevitably temptation comes with them all to the end, as it came with them at the beginning. What possibilities of evil are inseparable from a life so constituted ! If there is eating and drinking, there may be gluttony and drunkenness; if there is buying and selling, there may be over-reaching and covetousness; if there is planting and building, there may be display and pride; if there is marrying and given in marriage, there may be infidelities and sensualities. And over and above this or that, there is the power of the whole order on which we live to benumb our spiritual nature, and to make us drift on from day to day without unity of purpose, without concentration, without effective recognition of the sovereignty of God in our life---perhaps professing to believe in progress, but not having the Kingdom of God within us. 'As it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Lot.' This it is against which we are warned by Jesus.

In spite of all the superficial sameness and monotony, however, there is a deep difference in men's lives within. It was so in the ancient days to which Jesus referred. Life went on as usual in the time of Noah, but the flood came when it was due, and Noah entered into the Ark, and the godless were swept away. Nothing could exceed the solemnity with which our Lord points the application of this for His disciples. It is as if He said to us, You are living in a world in which moral distinctions seem to be obscure or tending to vanish like a vapor; all lives, you say to yourselves, are alike; all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation; there is nothing here but eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage. It is not true, though it is the temptation of our present state and the secret thought of many hearts.

It is said that one of the loveliest of Beethoven's melodies was built up out of a rude rustic rhythm that was wafted one night to the great composer's ears as he lay in bed in a country inn. A passing wayfarer was humming to himself a few notes of an unfinished folk-song as he went on his homeward path. The rhythm struck the composer. He noted it straitway in his note-book. He bent his mind over it with the laborious patience which was so characteristic of his genius. He turned it one way and another. He shot it through with new harmonies and strange discords. He varied it in a hundred different ways, until at last the old country tune became glorified into something altogether wonderful. It was the old and yet infinitely, gloriously new. All had been made new by the intermingling with it of the melodies of the master.

While it is possible to live in this world of spiritual reality, and to have the Kingdom of God and all the blessings within, it is not easy. That is the meaning of the parable of the Importunate Widow. The widow stands for the wronged and oppressed people of Christ, wearying and crying for one of the days of the Son of man---longing for the vindication of God and His cause in a cruel and wicked world. Will the King ever take to Himself His mighty power and reign? We have the word of Jesus for it that He is surely coming to His sovereignty.

But who shall be taken then, and who shall be left?

O God, so fill us with Your grace and enlist us in Your work, so manifest the might of your word to us, that the ideal of Your perfect Kingdom may shine as bright and near to us as to Your prophet of old, and that we may become its inspired preachers and ever labor in its hope.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha