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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 21:5-38: The Future According to Jesus
Luke 21:5-38: The Future According to Jesus Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 November 2013
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Predicting the future is big business.  Think about it, weather men get paid to try and tell us if it will rain tomorrow.  Vegas gives us predictions about who will win the big game.  Financial planners are supposed to help us get ready for sending our kids to college, going on future vacations, and a comfortable retirement.  We invest in all of these because we want to be able to plan and prepare for the future.  Yet, there is one problem with all of this: no one really knows the future.  How many times has the weather man predicted rain when it was nice and sunny?  How many men gamble away their money on Ďsure thingsí?  And how many people never get to enjoy that comfortable retirement?  For all of the money we invest, we are still not very good at predicting the future.

Jesus, however, knows exactly what is going to happen in the future.  You can take what He says to the bank.  In our passage this morning, we have Lukeís account of Jesusí teaching on the future.  What is difficult about interpreting these passages is the fact that Jesus prophesies like the prophets of old.  He speaks of events that will take place in the near future and which point to the end of days.  In our passage, He talks about the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and how that points to the return of the Son of Man.  It is hard at times, just like with the prophets of old, to know which He is talking about, the immediate future or the final future.  In our time together this morning, we want to look at both prophecies, the destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the Son of Man, and draw some conclusions about how we are to live in light of these prophecies.  We should note that Jesus is continuing to teach in the Temple.  Luke notes that this was His practice during His last days on the earth.  Look at verses 37-38.  So then, as His death approaches, what does Jesus teach us about the future?

The destruction of Jerusalem (v. 5-24)

The conversation begins with some comments about the Temple itself.  Look at verse 5.  The Temple in Jesusí day was beautiful.  It was a large complex with numerous large stones, many covered with gold.  It was ornate and decorated with special carvings and jewels which had been donated by people.  It was impressive, even overwhelming to those who were seeing it for the first time.  Yet, it would not last.  Look how Jesus responds to their comments in verse 6.  The Temple, this beautiful, ornate structure, will be destroyed.  It will not remain.

Of course, the obvious question is when will this happen, which is exactly what the people and His disciples ask Him in verse 7.  Look at that with me.  They wanted to know when the Temple would be destroyed and what sign would warn them.  They probably believed that the destruction of the Temple would be the end of days.  Thus, they wanted to know when these things would happen.

Jesusí answer actually includes many signs that will come before the Temple is destroyed.  What is difficult to determine is whether or not these signs are just for the destruction of Jerusalem or for the end of days as well.  I think the best way to view them is as both.  They directly apply to the destruction of Jerusalem, but they will also be signs for the return of Christ. 

So then, what are the signs?  First, He warns about the false Messiahs that will come.  Look at verse 8.  People will claim to be the Promised One.  They will get others to follow them.  But Jesus tells His disciples to not be led astray by them.  This happened before the destruction of Jerusalem and it continues to happen today.  Second, Jesus speaks of the sign of wars and tumults.  Look at verse 9.  Wars will take place before the destruction of Jerusalem.  In fact, there was a Jewish uprising against Rome in A.D. 66.  Such tumults would simply be a sign of the coming destruction.  Jesus speaks more of political wars in verse 10.  Look at that verse.  Such things took place before the city was destroyed and they will continue to happen until Jesus returns.  They are a sign of the end of days.  Third, Jesus describes signs in the natural order.  Look at verse 11.  Before Jerusalem was destroyed, there were earthquakes and famines and signs from heaven (possibly a comet).  These all pointed to what was about to take place.  They were signs for the coming judgment of Jerusalem.  And they are signs of the coming Judgment.

Jesus mentions one more sign in verses 12-19, the sign of persecution.  Look at verse 12 with me.  The time is coming when Jesusí disciples will face serious persecution from both the Jews and the Gentiles.  We read of this in the book of Acts.  The Apostles were put in prison and brought before Kings.  And what did they do?  Look at verses 13-15.  They will bear witness.  They will stand before Kings with their lives on the line and they will speak of the good news of Jesusí death and resurrection for their sins.  They will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  And the persecution they face will be difficult.  Jesus describes it further in verses 16-17.  Look at those with me.  These are not easy words.  Jesus tells His disciples that some of them will be put to death.  They will be martyred, killed for bearing witness about Jesus.  But He does not leave them without hope.  Look at verses 18-19.  They may lose their physical lives, but they will gain eternal life.  Their enemies will do all they can, but it will not be enough to pluck them from the sovereign hand of God.  They will give their lives on this earth and be given eternal life with the Father in Heaven.  All of this will take place before the city is destroyed.  And it will continue to take place until Jesus returns.

After these signs, the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed.  Jesus describes what will take place in verses 20-24.  Look at those with me.  Jesus tells of terrible events taking place in Jerusalem.  The city will be surrounded by armies.  Great fear will seize the people.  The inhabitants will be killed by the sword or carried off into captivity.  Why will this judgment come?  It will be Godís righteous vengeance against those who rejected Him and His Son.  It will be a temporal judgment against those who would not believe in Jesus.  Jesus gives this prophecy as a warning.  He tells people that when the siege begins, they need to flee the city, which is in fact what the early Church did by fleeing to Pella.  All of these events took place in A.D. 70 when the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem.  It was terrible and tragic.  Only those who listened to Jesus and followed His instructions escaped.

The coming of the Son of Man (v. 25-36)

Jesus gave all these signs to warn the people about the destruction of Jerusalem.  Similar signs are given to warn us of the coming Judgment.  Look at verses 25-26.  Before Christ returns, there will be signs in the created order that will lead to great fear upon the earth.  People will not know what is happening and they will be terrified.  Like the signs that led up to the destruction of Jerusalem, so will these signs prepare us for the end of days.  We see in this the overlap of the immediate prophecy (the destruction of Jerusalem) and the future prophecy (the return of the Son of Man).  One tells us of a temporal judgment that is similar to others we see in the Old Testament (the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Exile, etc.)  These all prepare us and warn us of the coming, final Judgment, which will be far more severe than all of these combined.

Why does Jesus give us these prophecies and tell us these signs?  He does this so that we will know that the Kingdom of God is near.  He teaches us this with the parable of the fig tree.  Look at verses 29-33.  When we go out in Spring and see the leaves on the trees, we know that Summer is coming.  How many of you noticed the changing leaves on your way to Church this morning?  What do they tell us?  Winter is near.  It may take another month or more, but it is coming.  In the same way, when we see these signs that Jesus has given us, we know that the Kingdom of God is near.  Jesus notes that the Kingdom is so close that this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.  Did Jesus get this wrong?  No, there are different ways to define this generation.  It could be that He was using it to refer to the Jews.  He could be speaking of the wicked, who will remain until He returns.  Or to be more positive, He could be referring to the righteous, who will persevere until He returns, which fits well with His comment about the endurance of His words.  He could just be referring to humanity in general.  All of these are possible and it is hard to know exactly which He meant.  Either way, the point that Jesus is making is that the Kingdom of God is near.  How do I know?  Because the leaves are changing.  Do we see false prophets arising?  Do we see nations at war?  Do we see earthquakes and natural disasters?  Do we see the persecution of Godís people?  The answer is Ďyesí to all of these.  Thus, we know that the Kingdom is near.

If this is true, how should we live?  Let me close with three commands of Jesus.

First, we should not be fooled or afraid.  Jesus told His disciples to not be taken in by false teachers.  They will come and they will go.  We need to know the truth found in His words which will not pass away.  And we are not to be afraid.  Look at verses 27-28.  We should not be afraid of the coming of the Son of Man.  Rather, we should straighten up and raise your heads.  We should stand up and stand strong because we know that our full redemption is near.

Second, we should be faithful witnesses.  Jesus told His disciples that they would be arrested and hated and killed.  All of this would give them opportunity after opportunity to bear witness about Christ.  Their suffering would open doors for them to tell the good news of Jesusí death and resurrection.  Look at verse 13.  I can see Peter rejoicing in suffering for Christ reciting these words to himself.  I see Paul and Silas singing in chains reminding each other of Jesusí words.  And I see new believers in Southeast Asia being released from prison to go and be witnesses to their family and friends of the good news of Jesusí forgiveness of their sins.  May we join them.

Third, we should always be prepared for that Day.  Look at verses 34-36.  Donít be distracted with drunkenness and the cares of this life.  Donít let that Day catch you unaware.  Rather, hit your knees in prayer and cry out to Jesus for mercy so that you can be ready to stand before the Son of Man when He comes.  May He find us watching and ready.  Amen. 

~ William Marshall ~


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 January 2014 )

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