As they neared Jerusalem, His disciples thought the kingdom of God was “to appear immediately.” And so, Jesus told them a story about a noblemen who went away to receive a kingdom (Luke 19:11-12). It was so far from what they were anticipating. After three years of walking with Jesus they sensed that something big was about to happen as they drew near to the city of the throne of David. They thought Jesus was coming into His own. Instead, He tried to tell them, He would soon leave.
Jesus had already told them that everything written of Him, the Son of Man, by the prophets would be accomplished. He would be delivered over to the Gentiles and would be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they would kill Him, and on the third day He would rise (Luke 18:31-33). But they didn’t get it. And so, nowhere on their radar was an expectation that, even after rising from the dead, instead of ascending the throne in Jerusalem, He would be lifted up out of their sight into the clouds with the promise that one day He would return (Acts 1:9-11). His disciples thought they were going to Jerusalem to inherit a kingdom. Instead, according to His story, Jesus was going away to receive a kingdom.
And that reading, this morning, set up my reading in Titus.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
The grace of God HAS appeared. The glory of our great God, as manifest in and through the Savior Jesus Christ, WILL appear. And for now, in this present age, He is receiving a kingdom.
Having brought salvation by His first appearing through the finished work of the cross, He is now gathering to Himself His subjects, “purifying for Himself a people.” This period between His first appearing and His promised appearing is all about kingdom work. The kingdom of God is now being established in the hearts of believers. The kingdom of God is now being manifest through those who “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions” and, instead, live godly lives in anticipation of the glory of a future day.
According to Jesus’ story in Luke 19, they are those who take the talents and treasures given them by the departed King and labor faithfully and diligently so that there might be a return on the King’s investment when He returns. Titus calls them the King’s “own possession who are zealous for good works.” I call them sinners saved by grace who have their minds and hearts set on things above. And through them . . . that is, through us . . . Jesus is receiving a kingdom.
In Jesus story, the nobleman returned. In Paul’s letter to Titus, the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will appear. And in this present age, we are to “Engage in business” until He comes (Luke 19:13). And we to wait for the blessed hope of His glorious appearing. Even so, Lord Jesus come.
Waiting in anticipation because of grace . . . engaging in kingdom business for His glory.