Read: Luke 21:5-38
The balance of chapter 21 is titled, The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times. Mostly red letters, the words of Jesus, are meant to motivate us to be courageous as the world falls apart. Mostly. Some quotes make me pause. Entire books have been written on the Olivet Discourse, so many details and much to debate. I’m not trying to add to that discussion here and I’m not about to explain pre-, post-, a-millennialism in this brief post! What I hear from this morning’s reading is that things are going to get much worse before they get much better. If we stick with Jesus, we will ultimately win. If we choose to ignore His words, we will suffer greatly (to put it mildly).
The disciples are in awe of the beauty of the Temple and make some comments about the beautiful stones and gifts. In my imagination, I can see them looking up and smiling as they express the wonder of the place where God is honored. The music swells, then Jesus throws a wet blanket on the whole group.
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” Luke 21:6
And so the story begins. The Temple, the pride of the Jewish people, will be destroyed. For the Pharisees and Sadducees, this was ludicrous talk! Tantamount to blasphemy. Here’s a thought: when we begin to worship buildings, we’re probably not focused on God. Just sayin.
Jesus goes on to provide a lot of details. I hope He laid these out one at a time because each is heavy and take time to process. For example,
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. Luke 21:16-17
If I were there, I’d probably try to get Jesus’ attention and say, “WAIT! What did you say? Put some of us to death? Can you explain how you want us to stand firm and win life?”
He’s on a roll, there is much more to be said. As He spoke these words, I envision a somber atmosphere where each is leaning in to hear as they sincerely try to comprehend what is being said.
Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24
These are not words that Jesus provides out of pride, He is sad about the reality that is about to be imposed on His friends and on the world. Remember His entry to Jerusalem just a few chapters ago:
As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it Luke 19:41
Jesus wept over the vision of what was to become of this most sacred place. So much of the Old Testament was about the Temple. David wanted to build it, but God said no. Solomon built it but got lost in the plethora of wives and concubines. Back and forth we watched as Israel was split and ultimately dispersed. In Jesus’ day, the Jewish community was going through a massive redecorating program where the Temple was once again looking nice. Unfortunately, it appears this was all in vain because those in charge missed the most important event in history: The Messiah was right in front of them. They were so focused on themselves, they missed Jesus. Let that thought sink in for a while.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28
When these things take place, not if. Lift up your heads, not with pride or arrogance, but with the assurance that you have chosen well, you have seen beyond the fog of this present day and to the future that holds eternity.
I leave you with a glimpse of John’s revelation:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17
Be strong and courageous. Seek the lost as one who is found.