"Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."
I'm reading along, reading along...
I'm saying to myself, "Yes, this passage is familiar; Yes, I've heard this before; Yes, I've heard sermons on this; Yes, I've studied this."
And then I hit a strange verse.
If this verse would have been pulled out of scripture and I had been asked from whence it came, I might have guessed Shakespeare or Tennyson, but never would have guessed its originator to be Jesus!
Yet another good reason to read the Bible multiple times. We miss things if we don't.
So why the talk of dead bodies and vultures in the middle of a discourse about the final days and the coming kingdom of God. Is this saying all the distruction will happen, there will be dead bodies all around and then the vultures will have a banquet? I don't think so.
The disciples are concerned about the Kingdom of God. Where is it? What is it? When will it come?
These are questions still asked by theologians, science fiction writers, politicians and everyday common folk.
Jesus replies by saying, "Sometimes you all are asking the wrong questions." For Jesus, "when" and "where" are not as important as "who." The questions Jesus wants us to ask are "Will we be a part of it?" and "Will we recognize it?"
Jesus' answer to these two questions is a statement. If the statement were broken down into two rhetorical questions, they might be these:
Do vultures eat dead meat?
Does anyone need to tell a vulture where carrion is?
As the Holy Spirit has its way with our lives, Jesus' death and resurrection for our sakes guarantees our part in the kingdom. And just as vultures instinctively come to dead flesh, we, who are created in God's image, will recognize the kingdom.