121-122 Luke Chapter 21
The Widows Commitment 1-4
The widow who came to the Temple showed the true picture of religion. Jesus praise her profusely as he had condemned the scribes and Pharisees. The scene was where the offerings were made in the Temple. The rich would pass by with their gifts and proudly place them in the treasury box. Jesus called the attention of the disciples to the poor widow. Jesus said of her, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them.” This may have shocked the disciples, as Jesus went on to explain. The amount of her gift was much less than that of the rich but the difference was what was left after she gave her gift. The rich had made large gifts, but they were still rich after they had left the Temple. They had given out of their abundance, and, as a result they did not even miss it. The widow had given all that she had.
The Impact of the Future
No passage is more difficult than Luke 21:5-36 and is paralleled in Mark 13 and Matthew 24. Part of the problem is that these passages use apocalyptic language – highly symbolic kind of language found in such books as Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. The difficulty is the intertwining of two events. Although Jesus focused on the destruction of the Temple, He projected this as a sign of His future coming. The two events are woven in and out of the fabric of the passage. As a result, it is difficult always to distinguish which verses refer exclusively to one or the other event.
Both of these events were in the future. From our perspective, the Temples destruction is long past. Jesus was describing to the disciples what appeared to them to be like a distant mountain range. From our perspective, however, we know that He was describing two mountain ranges with considerable distance between them.
We know what happened to Jerusalem and the Temple in the Jewish-Roman war of AD 66-70. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus left a vivid account. By contrast, none of us has experienced what will take place at the Lord’s future coming. Considerable agreement exists among Christians about the fact of the Lord’s coming, but much disagreement exists about the particulars. These differences of opinion are reflected in what teachers say and commentators write about this passage.
A Startling Prediction 5-6
Jeremiah had prophesied the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, (Jeremiah 7) so Jesus foretold the destruction of Herod’s Temple. Many of the people of Jeremiah’s day and of Jesus’ day assumed that God would never allow His Temple to be destroyed or His people judged.
The Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC. The Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 515 BC. Herod the great began a third Temple in 20-19 BC, and work on this Temple was continuing in Jesus’ day. (John 2:20) In 70 AD when the Romans had laid siege to Jerusalem the last defenders took refuge in the Temple. There they expected God to come to their rescue but the Romans overwhelmed them. The Romans then leveled the Temple just as Jesus had predicted.
Signs and Speculations 7-11
The disciples questioned Jesus as to how they would know when these events were to take place. In their minds this was to be at the time when the new order of God’s Kingdom would be established. Jesus had tried to teach them that there would be a time of waiting and serving. (Luke 12:35-40’ Luke 19:11-27) But they were still expecting Jesus to establish His Kingdom immediately. (Luke 19:11) The disciples even after the resurrection of Jesus speculated that God was about to restore the kingdom of Israel. (Acts 1:6) Jesus warned them about speculating the times and season. (Acts 1:7) Instead Jesus called them to their real task of telling the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The key to these verses is in verse 9, “but the end does not follow immediately.” Jesus warned that every event was a sign of the coming end and to be aware of those who came in His name to announce “The time is at hand.“ Wars and rumors of wars are not a sign that the end is near. Neither are natural disasters as a sign of the end. Many of these events took place before 70 AD and many have happened since then.
A Time for Faithfull Witnessing 12-19
Jesus told them that there would be a time of great persecution before the Temple fell. Jesus challenged His followers to use this time of hostility not as a threat but as a time for bearing testimony. They were not to be anxious ahead of this time for what to say as they stood before their accusers. Jesus promised that they would be enabled to bear a powerful testimony.
Jesus encouraged them by stating that even as some would lose their lives for their testimony that not even a hair in their heads would perish. That they would be safe in the hand of their Lord.
The use of the word endurance in verse 19 is another way to describe faithfulness. There are those who survive and manage to come through all kinds of trouble. But Jesus is not talking about survival but endurance. Endurance is facing life with faith, courage, and love. This may involve taking risks, even the risk of losing life. Jesus never promised survival but He does promise life. Those who set out to save themselves and survive without losing their life will lose their life. But those who lose their life for the sake of Jesus will find their life. Death is not able to destroy this kind of life.
The Judgment of Jerusalem 20-24
These verses refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and not the second coming of Jesus. Seeing the references to Jerusalem and Judea is a clear reference to what happened in 70 AD.
This is the answer to the disciples who asked about the destruction of the Temple. When the Roman armies encircle Jerusalem the destruction is near. Jesus gives a strong warning to His followers to flee. Jesus refused to associate with the nationalistic groups whose goal was to fight for independence from Rome. Neither did Jesus want His followers to become involved in such a revolution. Jesus was telling them to flee and not stay and fight. Eusebius writes that when the Romans came the Christians moved to Pella across the Jordan River.
The fall of Jerusalem was seen by Jesus as a judgment against Theos who had rejected God’s purpose. The Old Covenant was over and the day of the New Covenant was about to be established. This would be accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus died the veil of the Temple was torn in two. This was the sign of the end for the Old and the beginning of the New. The destruction of the Temple ended the institution the Old Covenant.
Under the Old Covenant Israel was commissioned as God’s people in the world. It has always been God’s plan to broaden His commission. The fall of Jerusalem was one sign that the New Covenant had begun, “the times of the Gentiles.” One of the themes of Luke-Acts is that the tragedy of the Jews rejection of their Messiah did not end God’s work. Their rejection open the door for the Gentiles to have their opportunity to be involved in God’s work in the world.
Coming of the Son of Man 25-28
The old order of creation is not giving away to the new order of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom. Jesus did not place as much emphasis on the signs as to their effect upon humanity. A humanity that is unprepared for his coming.
Jesus makes reference to Scripture in the Book of Daniel 7:13-14, 27. Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of man.” Daniel describes how God will give the Son of man sovereignty over all things. This happened by the life, death, and resurrection. (Luke 22:69) In one sense the Kingdom is already a reality. (Luke 11:20; Luke 17:21) In another sense the present reality of the Kingdom is only seen through the eyes of faith. When Jesus returns the domination of godless nations will come to an end and all people will know the sovereignty of the Son of man. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Jesus does offer His follower’s encouragement in these words, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In the Old Testament the “day of the Lord” was a day for judgment on persistently sinful people and a day of redemption for the faithful people of God. The New Testament presents the same theme. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can look forward to the future with a confident hope in God and His gracious purpose.
Readiness for the Temple’s Ruin 29-33
This passage creates a controversy. The words “this generation” is the heart of the problem. The natural way to understand “this generation” is its obvious meaning of the people who were alive then. This controversy disappears if the meaning is the Temples destruction and not the Lord’s coming. It has been the main theme of this chapter that Jesus is explaining His prediction of the Temple’s ruin. Verses 25-28 look beyond to Christ’s coming, the final judgment and redemption, which the fall of Jerusalem must happen first. It would not be surprising then if Jesus came back to His main theme.
The parable of the fig tree then can be understood as the budding of the fig tree is as the sign of the gathering Roman armies around Jerusalem was a sign of the Temples ruin.
Verse 31 reminds of the expectancy of Jesus’ return. Many verses in the New Testament are used to heighten the sense of expectancy. (1 Corinthians 16:22; Philippians 4:5; James 5:8-9; Revelation 22:20) When Jerusalem fell it signified the new age had come in Christ. As a result, it increased the expectancy of His return in the near future.
In times of uncertainty Jesus is teaching where are true security is found. Jesus knew that when Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed that many of His followers would become distressed. But Jesus is teaching them to not be consumed by the temporal things and look to the eternal things. As someday heaven and earth will pass away, but our security is not rooted in our present existence.
Watch and Pray 34-36
The theme of these verses is the preparedness we are to have for His coming. The people involved are not the people who dwell in Jerusalem but “all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.”
Jesus had predicted and explained the Temples ruin. Then He looked ahead to His coming. Then Jesus taught them for their preparedness for the former event and now for the readiness of the later.
The day of the Lord will be a day of judgment for the sinners and it will be a day of judgment for the believer, a day to be held accountable for their stewardship. (Luke 12:41-48; Luke 19:11-27; Romans 14:12) Christians are children of the light and not children of this world. Christians should not live as children of the world. Jesus warns His followers about being weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life.
Teaching in the Temple 37-38
All of these verses from 19:45 to 21:38 took place in the Temple.