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Messianic Generation
By Christian Nseka
July 7, 2011

Jesus came with the mission of establishing God’s Kingdom on earth (a.k.a. the Kingdom of Heaven). There will be no Kingdom of Heaven without the Messiah—the Son of Man. When he realized that he could no longer carry out the establishment of God’s Kingdom due to the lack of adequate cooperation from the elites, Jesus began to speak of the Second Coming of the Messiah.

When speaking of the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus said:

"For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." (Luke 17:25)

When interpreted literally, this passage would mean that Jesus was saying that the people or the generation that witnessed the first coming of the Messiah was the same one to witness the coming of the Returning Lord. But is this really what Jesus meant? Did he mean that his contemporaries would be the ones to receive the Returning Lord—the Second Coming of the Son of Man?

It would mean so if and only if we consider the pronoun "this" in Luke 17:25 to mean "the same."

The words "this generation" do not mean the same generation. They rather mean similar generation. There will never be two same generations. But there can be as many similar generations as possible.

By the words "this generation," Jesus did not mean that the generation of his contemporaries would see the advent of the Returning Lord. He rather meant that a generation similar to that of his contemporaries will witness the advent of the Returning Lord.

So what did Jesus mean by "this generation"? Or, what should we make of the interpretation similar generation? What is similar generation? What makes the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries and, say, our generation similar?

Our generation is similar to the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries in that both generations are sinful generations. They are generations made up of fallen individuals.

So when Jesus said, "But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation" (Luke 17:25; emphasis added), he did not mean the generation of his contemporaries, but the like generation of the contemporaries of the Returning Lord.

In other words Jesus was saying, just like him, the Returning Lord will be rejected by a sinful generation contemporary to him, the Returning Lord. Jesus was rejected by a sinful generation, so will be the Returning Lord. Jesus was misunderstood by a sinful generation, so will be the Returning Lord. Jesus was persecuted by a sinful generation, so will be the Returning Lord. Jesus was ostracized by a sinful generation, so will be the Returning Lord. Jesus was believed by some of his sinful contemporaries, so will be the Returning Lord. In short, the mission of the Returning Lord will not be easy because he will face a generation similar to the one Jesus faced, a generation that will not understand him for it will be a generation influenced by Satan.

Some of the contemporaries of the Returning Lord will think that they are doing God’s will by persecuting the Returning Lord. They will think that they are protecting God’s providence by rejecting the Returning Lord. This means that just like the generation that saw the advent of Jesus, the generation that will see the advent of the Returning Lord will erroneously block him from fulfilling his mission. They will do all they can, all in the name of God and religion, to throw him off-track.

But the reality is that just like the generation of the contemporaries of Jesus, the generation of the contemporaries of the Returning Lord will be no different. It will be a similar generation for it will reject, persecute, ostracize, misunderstand, and repeatedly seek the death of the Messiah. Hence the words of Jesus, "But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation" (Luke 17:25; emphasis added).

Interpreting this passage literally is a mistake for it would mean that Jesus was wrong as to when and to whom the Returning Lord was to appear. A literal interpretation would mean that Jesus was promising the advent of the Returning Lord to take place during the lifetime of his contemporaries. This would then mean that the Returning Lord was going to appear before at least the last of the generation contemporary to Jesus left the earth. As history is our witness, the Returning Lord did not appear during the lifetime of the contemporaries of Jesus. The fact that the Returning Lord did not come during the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries suffice to support my statement that the words "this generation" in Luke 17:25 should not be interpreted literally.

Our generation is not the first and only generation to interpret the words of Jesus literally. The generation of the contemporaries of Jesus was. This is demonstrated in the dialogue between Jesus and Peter as recorded in the Gospel of John:

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. … 21When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
   22Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." 23Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" (John 21:20–23)

Unfortunately, the erroneous interpretation of the words of Jesus in particular and the Bible in general continues to our days. Just like in the case of Jesus’ statement about the disciple whom he loved the most, we can clearly state in hindsight that Jesus did not mean that the generation of his contemporaries was the one to witness the coming of the Returning Lord.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you.

 

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