We enter back into the tumult of Jerusalem. It’s Passover time and the population has swelled. Jesus is right in the midst of it, teaching in the temple. The religious leaders are circling Him to find a weakness they can exploit. And He starts talking here about the end of the world. Welcome to Luke 21.
It actually opens with Jesus noticing something: two pennies tossed into a pile of gold. Right after condemning those who steal widow’s lives, Jesus commended a widow who gave all she had. It’s not the quantity of what we give, it’s our attitude that matters.
Jesus and His disciples are wandering the temple, amazed at it. Jesus said, “it’s not going to last.” He foretells the end – famines, wars, tumult, strife, jealous anger. These all come before the end, but it doesn’t come right away. This reminds me of the drawn-out fight scenes in the Return of the King: close to the end, but not really close yet. But if that’s not bad enough, what comes before all that stuff is a lot of persecution. Ouch! They would be dragged in front of rulers. Jesus told them to not think about it, though, to ask for wisdom in the moment. And they would bear witness that no one could contradict. Jesus had just shown how effectively God’s wisdom could silence all arguments!
Family would deliver them up: betrayed. Some would die. They would be hated by all. Wow, not very exciting proposition. But, not a hair of their head would perish. Wait, didn’t He just say some of them would die? And by their endurance they would gain their lives.
Jesus is talking on a different wavelength, mixing spiritual with the physical view. I looked this up in a commentary on the original language (googled it, actually…) and found Biblehub.com quite helpful. The idea of “perish” vs “living” may be taken in the sense that they did not die eternally, but their endurance in the faith was their first step into eternally living with God. It may also refer to the literal destruction of Jerusalem or the fact that God numbered all of their hairs and each of their moments is under His care. This is an underlying sense of comfort.
And Jesus moves right on to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the time they would need to run away. The Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD besieged Jerusalem, overthrew the factions of fighters, and destroyed the city and temple (GA Henty’s historical fiction For the Temple is an enjoyable way to understand the full story).
The world will be chaotic, messy, and then Jesus will come on the clouds with glory. Ah, the sweet relief. Jesus would make things right, so stay alert. Don’t hold on to the things of this world, because they won’t last.
I get so caught up in this world, with its lavish distractions. Jesus said, “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap…”
While the disciples did live through the destruction of Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, this reminder is poignant for us. Yes, 2,000 years later, Jesus has still not returned. But He will. Are you ready? Are you living so that you can face Him with pride? I know that my heart wanders far. Am I giving all I have like the widow?
God, please help me pursue You like the widow who valued You more than things of this world. Amen. And remember how awesome it will be for You to return: perspective to see Your glory!