Luke 21: 5 – 38
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “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.” “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 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. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
The first part of this prophesy happened a few decades after Jesus’ death when the blood of all the prophets, including Jesus, was required of that generation. But the end of the world clearly has not yet come and Jesus said “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Most likely, there was an editing mistake in how these sayings of Jesus were sewn together. The first followers of Jesus had tremendous problems with the “failure” of this prophesy as they watched the last of the disciples age and die. Then they doubted their faith which to that point had been based in “being always on watch” rather than getting “weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life.” We have made the adjustment as we can see that Jerusalem was destroyed but that the times of the gentiles are not yet fulfilled.
And so we still wait watchfully, being interested in the many different things that Jesus said to watch for. In this case the roaring and tossing of the sea could easily have to do with climate change and rising sea levels swallowing more and more cities and causing more and more violent weather events. Other prophesies talked about increasing wars and rumours of war, increasing earthquakes. Certainly that has also been on the increase in our generation so who knows? As Jesus said, it is not for us to know when or where but to wait and be watchful.
When we take these words of Jesus seriously, despite the millennia that have passed since he spoke them, we are freed from being caught up in the cares of the world, in the normal anxieties of life and the need to party hard to deal with that fear and misery. We are challenged to walk with Abba, in the power of the Spirit. So as followers of Jesus, while inevitably we will make mistakes, inevitably say and do things we come to regret, the path we return to simply by turning to our prodigal father once more is one of calmness, peace and a pure heart as we increasingly love Abba, each other and our own selves.
Noon Day Prayers Question
Are you closer to “being always on watch” or being “weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life”? Rest in Abba’s presence, in the presence of your big brother Jesus and consider this question. Let the Spirit guide you from here…
Luke 22: 1 – 6
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
Pray that you never again in your life have the experience of Satan entering you. Pray that you may not be “led into temptation but delivered from evil.” For once one has made a fateful decision in what might feel like the right direction, there is no turning back from the consequences of these actions but simply going through and hopefully repenting and being forgiven later.
Fortunately we have a prodigal father. But if in following our wrong-headedness we do harm to a young soul, so that one or more vulnerable children of Abba are offended and knocked off course, then we are in a serious situation.
The problem with being given responsibility as Judas Iscariot was given, is that you have the power to do great harm. With the way some of us are wired with such intense inner critics, it is easy for someone who feels cut off from God’s love to fall victim to the Deceiver and the Father of Lies whose sole purpose is to destroy as many of us as he can.
Pray that you never again have the experience of Satan entering you. Pray fervently that you are not “led into temptation but delivered from evil.” Our Abba hears your prayers and knows your weaknesses and will protect you from yourself.