By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst. – Luke 17:21
Often we feel like finding God, seeing Him at work, and experiencing His presence takes hard work. Many believers spend our time searching for the next book, service, story, or special prayer that will bring us closer to Him. It can be a frustrating, frantic, and draining quest for that special something that lets us know we are not alone and that we are truly a part of something greater than ourselves.
What if the quest is a distraction? What if God’s presence is closer that we think? What if He is working and moving even when we feel like we can’t see or feel Him?
God’s word helps unlock the mystery of who God is and how we can experience Him in our lives. Jesus tells us that when we repent and believe we have access to his kingdom. One that lives in us and is consequently always available to us!
There is no need for complicated routines or special spiritual qualifications. When we accept Jesus, we become a part of his kingdom or, even more sweetly put, we are of his family. His presence, power, and peace live inside of us! What a gift God gives us when he sends his son to usher onto the earth God’s kingdom. Let’s explore more of what God’s word reveals to us about his glory-filled kingdom.
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What ‘Kingdom of God’ Did Jesus Mean?
The “kingdom of God” is referenced all throughout Scripture. Luke 17:21 tells us the kingdom is in our midst, Matthew 3:2 tells us the kingdom of heaven is near, Matthew 13:41 tell of a “weeding out” of those who cannot enter the kingdom, and Mark 1:14-15 encourages us to repent as God’s kingdom is near. These are just a few of the many scriptures that point to God’s kingdom.
The kingdom of God can be described as God’s reign and his rule over all things. God is in charge of our universe. He is on his throne and governing all things. God’s purpose for our world was that we would be a part of his kingdom. Thankfully God sent Jesus to establish his saving rule here on Earth. Jesus died to triumph over our sin, death, and Satan. When we are in relationship with him, he reigns in our hearts.
God calls us to gather together as people who are citizens of God’s kingdom. Christ also promises to come a second time to complete his reign by creating a new heaven and new earth.
The great mystery about the kingdom of God is that it is both talked about as something we should anticipate and also something that we have current access to in the here and now. For example, Matthew 6:10 invites us to pray that God’s kingdom come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. This text reminds us that things are not the way they ought to be here on Earth. Yet, in Luke 17:21 we learn that God’s kingdom is here in our midst!
How can we both anticipate God’s Kingdom coming but also know that the kingdom is in our midst? This is possible because God’s kingdom is God’s reign. He is sovereign and at work in our world to redeem humanity now. What's also true is that at a future time his work will be finished with Christ’s return and subsequent renewal of all creation.
Who Was Jesus Talking to in Luke 17?
And what did he mean when he says “within you” to the Pharisees?
Jesus was approached by the Pharisees who asked when the kingdom of God would come here on earth. These words were meant to provoke Jesus, prompting him to either prove that he was the Messiah by producing God’s kingdom and if not, then they wanted him to stop claiming that He was the Messiah.
Jews that witnessed this conversation would have been familiar with the kingdom of God. They were knowledgeable about the many prophecies that told of the glory of their coming Savior. They were hungry to see God’s kingdom on earth now! This would have been a conversation that would provoke a reaction from bystanders. They yearned for a Messiah to establish rule on earth.
Jesus replies to these hostile Pharisees letting them know that the kingdom of God would not be found by those with doubting and hard hearts. Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within you but this is better translated as “among you” or “ in your midst.”
Jesus was saying the kingdom of God is here now because the King was among them!
This statement was Jesus pointing the Pharisees to his divine identity. Jesus was making clear that his presence was what was bringing his kingdom to humanity. They were unable to recognize God’s sent Messiah that was right in front of their faces.
Even though these Pharisees said they desired the kingdom of God to come they were not able to accept the King. They had other preconceived notions about what God’s kingdom would and should look like. Their unwillingness to rethink what they thought God should or would do to save his people blinded them from being able to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus says to them I am right here in front of you but you still can’t see me, making the point that God’s kingdom is received by those with open hearts.
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Other Biblical Translations of Luke 17:21
Luke 17: 21 (NIV)
Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.
Luke 17:21 (KJV)
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:21 (ESV)
Nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
Luke 17:21 (NLT)
You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.
Luke 17:21 (MSG)
Nor when someone says, 'Look here!' or, 'There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you.
How Do We Get the Kingdom of God Within Us?
God’s kingdom on earth was established with the arrival of Jesus. The king himself came down to earth so that we as people would not perish but have access to eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus taught that the kingdom had to be received. In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus explains that if we are to receive the kingdom of God we have to come to him with childlike faith.
Reliance on and acceptance of Christ is how we enter God’s kingdom. We show our willingness to rely on Jesus when we repent. Mark 1:15 says, “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”
Furthermore, we read in John 3:3-5 that Jesus talks of a spiritual birth that marks as a part of God’s kingdom. Jesus explains that his kingdom is in us and we are born again as citizens of God’s kingdom when we repent and believe in him. This is how we become part of God’s kingdom.
Matthew 6:10 says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This verse is part of a passage famously called the Lord’s Prayer. It was the model that Jesus gave his disciples on how to pray. Why does Jesus give us these words, asking us to invite his mysterious kingdom to come to earth?
God partners with believers to advance the cause of his kingdom or reign here on earth. When we repent and believe, we become “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This means we are sons and daughters of God, full participants in God’s great work, and God’s kingdom is fully present in us!
Just as Jesus explained to the Pharisees in Luke 17:21 that the kingdom is here because the king is here—the same is true now. God’s kingdom is at work on earth because his heirs or believers are living on earth pointing others to God’s glorious kingdom.
The fullness of God’s kingdom has yet to be established. A battle against evil and for the souls on earth continues to go on until Jesus’ final return in which he will establish a new heaven and earth where his kingdom will be fully known. We pray the words "your kingdom come" because we know that things are not as they should be. They are an acknowledgment that our world needs what God has!
These words are an invitation that God will use his people to be a light in this world while we wait for God’s full plan and timing to unfold. They are also a reminder to us that our final home is not of this world. We press towards the goal of Heaven while still on earth (Philippians 3:14).
May we all seek to see God’s glory displayed through our lives in our earth. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” Our hope is in Jesus and his current work in our lives as well as his soon coming return.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page, Blog or follow her on Instagram.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.