September 19, 2022
In spite of what we see happening in our world today (wars, sickness, death), we have an everlasting hope for Jesus' return to make all things right. This isn't a comeback as if He had been knocked down and needed to recover. Jesus has been sitting on His Father's throne at the Father's right hand since the Ascension.
"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
1 Jesus 1 21:1 Greek He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 2 21:2 Greek two lepta; a lepton was a Jewish bronze or copper coin worth about 1/128 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer) 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers 3 21:16 Or parents and brothers and sisters and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
The opening scene has Jesus and His disciples observing donations in the temple. The religious system of the time was one in which people would marvel at the gifts wealthy people would give (some of which, like art and statues, were apparently used to adorn the temple complex), while often overlooking the sacrifice of poorer people who were literally giving all they had of value. I am thankful that our Lord weighs and sees the heart.
We then see Jesus after He hears a conversation discussing the opulence of the temple. It seems almost as if the temple itself—what people had devoted their donations to—has become something to be adored. Jesus then tells His listeners that the temple was going to be destroyed and begins to explain what the future holds: wars; pestilence; earthquakes; divisions/disunity; trials in abundance, and the destruction of Jerusalem. It gives me comfort to read in Luke 21:13-15 how the Holy Spirit is with us and will help us when we are in such trials. Trials are a time for us as believers to bear witness to others the saving grace of Christ and the salvation available to all.
Next comes what I call the "Don't-call-it-a-comeback" section of the chapter. In the key verses (Luke 21:27-28), we see that the Lord is in control; nothing escapes His purview; and no matter how bleak and dark life on earth can seem, God's plan will be accomplished. God is not "on the ropes." He is in control and will return in power and glory. I love how Luke 21:28 describes Christ's return: "Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." We have this present hope and confidence that Christ will return and make all things right.
Finally, we're encouraged to watch and not get ensnared by the cares of this life. This reminds me that, as a believer, I am set apart, not to be weighed down by the activities of the world.
1. What is your heart motivation in giving to the Lord? Are you giving from your heart sacrifically in gratitude and thanksgiving or for others to see? Are you more interested in adorning your own temple with expensive clothes, jewelry, and accessories, or in being obedient and pleasing to God with your giving—sacrificially and joyfully. "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)
2. Are you struggling to see God's promises in light of the present struggles in the world? Do current news events keep you from walking with your head up high, knowing that our redemption is near? "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
3. Are you being watchful? Are you being set apart, or are you carousing and participating in the activities of the world? "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)