(Use the “Back” button or arrow on your device to return to the Study Index when finished)3. Luke 21: “The Truth Can Sound So Strange”
Salem County Correctional Facility in Woodstown, NJ – Men’s Evening Chapel Service on 1/29/2008
(edited May 2019)
Sometimes Jesus just doesn’t think the way we would think. And that is true here in Luke 21. For one thing, He knows the future in a way we do not. Also, Jesus has the kind of confidence in God to be loving and kind even when in a crisis.
Our first example of the Lord’s “alternative thinking” is found back in Luke 19:42-44:
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
As the crowds gather to celebrate His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus weeps! Think of it: He wept at His own party. Wasn’t it actually His love for them and us that so moves Him as He spoke there of the pathetic future of Jerusalem and its people? Now let’s move on to chapter 21:
Verses 1-4: “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
This passage presents the immediate context of the famous “Olivet Discourse” that is to follow. This is the Savior Who will think to bring true JUSTICE not just to one poor widow, but to the entire world.
Verses 5-6: “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
In effect Jesus is saying it ain’t the building, it’s the people I came to save. Oh, how they wanted Him to save the buildings and their wealth and earthly status.
Verse 7: “And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?”
Instead of offering them what they seek materially (and I should add that I often get preoccupied with material blessing when I approach the Lord also!), or launching a diatribe about Himself (that’s what I probably would have done if I were Him), the Lord takes up the subject of times and the future judgement of this world.
And here’s what THAT FUTURE HOLDS (unfortunately):
Verse 8: “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.”
Verse 9: “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”
Verse 10: “Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:”
Verse 11: “ And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”
Persecution of Believers
Verses 12-19: “ But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.”
By 70 AD, the Glory of the Lord was gone from physical Jerusalem when the Roman General Titus conquered the city, and it has never actually returned. The Jewish people were subsequently scattered and distressed.
Verses 20-24: “ And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Christ continues His narrative, delving into a more distant future, and the judgement of Jews and Gentiles alike:
Astronomy and oceanography take a bizarre turn:
Verse 25: “ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;”
And human wisdom, all at once, will melt into panic:
Verse 26: “ Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Verse 27: “ And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Physical Jerusalem could not be saved in 70 AD and this earth as we know it cannot be saved. Only individual people who place their full trust in Christ can He save in the end. All men and women will be judged by the same One Who understood and judged the poor widow who gave her small gift to God.
How about you? What about the individuals that you know? Do you, do they trust in this Savior? It’s hard to understand Christ sometimes, if we are to be honest. It can be hard to think His way. He wept at his first triumphal entry into Jerusalem, maybe we who believe in Him will be the ones weeping at His second. Weeping for the lost, being more conformed to His image and only then truly understanding how He thinks. Fully feeling the pain of the lost. But shouldn’t we feel it now while there is still time to change the eternal destiny of any who will receive Him into their hearts?
Verses 28-38: “ And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.”
Look to your own soul, yes of course, to your own salvation. But that isn’t enough. We have been told of a Day that WILL come. A Day you would not want to see anyone you care about (perhaps not even your worst enemy) enter into unprepared.
The Apostle Paul started thinking in these terms, I believe, in Romans 9:1-3:
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”
What about the Apostle John? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he got to thinking a time when believers will no longer be able to cry. Look at it with me in Revelation 7:17:
“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Jesus, in His day, wept over His city. Are we ready to weep over ours? Or would that ruin our “triumphal entry?” Think about it. Can we, motivated by real tears of compassion, call those who will listen today to a life of true peace with God in Christ? And to Eternal Life in a place where tears aren’t needed? That kind of thinking doesn’t come naturally to me. How about you? Let’s pray.