Revelations from the Word

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When will the Kingdom come?

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests'. And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus answered and said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well. Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation [parateresis]; nor will they say, See here! or See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:11-21).

Coming from Judea, Jesus began to make His way towards Jerusalem. As He entered a village, He met ten lepers who begged Him to heal them. So Jesus sent them to show themselves to the priest, and the ten received their healing while they were walking towards Jerusalem. Only the Samaritan leper turned around and give glory to Jesus. The nine others went to see the priest according to the demands of the Levitical law. Jesus had already sent His 70 disciples on mission, "Heal the sick there, and tell them: The Kingdom of God has come near to you" (Luke 10:9). That is why the Pharisees who were coming simply to be present at a miraculous healing, asked Jesus, "When will the Kingdom of God come?".

The Greek word parateresis means 'attentive and scrupulous observation'; and in this context it is a question of the observation of the Levitical law. In fact, Jesus asked the ten lepers to go and show themselves to the priest in order that he might declare them clean again (Leviticus 13). The nine Jewish lepers therefore observed the law scrupulously, but only the Samaritan leper returned to Jesus, fell face down and gave Him thanks. Nine lepers chose the Law and one chose Grace.

Replying to the Pharisees' question, Jesus made evident a fundamental principle concerning the establishment of the Kingdom of God: one does not enter the Kingdom of God through the scrupulous observation of the law (Torah), as the nine lepers did. But by accepting the worship of the Samaritan leper, Jesus showed that He was the way of grace, which leads to the Kingdom. If the scrupulous observation of the Torah allowed entry to the Kingdom of God, that would have been easily identifiable. We cannot therefore give a location to the Kingdom for it has no visible exterior sign, but we can see its fruits where it is present, "The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised…" (Luke 7:22), for the Kingdom of God is in the heart of the one who has accepted Jesus the Messiah.