Luke 21:5-6 (NIV)
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,
6 “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.”
On verses 5-6: As his disciples fawn over how beautiful and expensive the temple in Jerusalem is, once again Jesus predicts the coming destruction of the temple, which would happen a few decades later in 70 A.D.
Luke 21:7-12a (NIV)
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 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.
9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you…
On verses 7-12a: The disciples ask Jesus when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and what signs would hint that this event was coming soon (v7). In reply, Jesus warns his disciples not to follow other individuals who come claiming that they are the Messiah (“claiming, ‘I am he’”) and that the time has almost come (v8). He also warns them not to assume when wars and revolutions take place, that the end will come right after that (v9). He warns them that in addition to international wars (v10) there will also be earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful events and signs from heaven (v11), but that before all this Jesus’ disciples would first be persecuted.
Jesus’ reply is challenging because it is not 100% clear whether Jesus is answering their question directly about when the temple would be destroyed or instead Jesus is talking about the end of the world. According to some scholars, he may be doing both!
Luke 21:12-19 (NIV)
12 …They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
13 This will result in your being witnesses to them.
14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.
15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
17 All men will hate you because of me.
18 But not a hair of your head will perish.
19 By standing firm you will gain life.
On verses 12b-19: Jesus says that his disciples will be persecuted, imprisoned (v12), and brought before political leaders because of their faith (“all on account of my name”) (v12). As a result they will be His witnesses (v13). Jesus promises to give his disciples the words and the wisdom to speak when they are persecuted (v14-15). Jesus also says that his disciples will be betrayed (v16), killed (v16), and hated (v17), but that in the end, “not a hair of your head will perish” (v18).
How can we apply these verses to our lives? Realize that in this lifetime, if we are serious about following Jesus, we will sometimes face opposition and persecution for our faith. However, we don’t need to be afraid because:
1. God will give you sufficient grace under pressure (v14-15).
2. In the end, no one in this world can take away from us what is most precious: the life that God has stored up for us in heaven (v19).
3. Whenever God allows you to go through persecution, He always has a purpose: that “This will result in your being witnesses to them” (v13). In other words, God’s plan is that as you go through that painful trial, you would personally experience God’s power, presence and hope and be a living testimony of that power and hope to others.
For these reasons we can keep “standing firm” whenever we face hardship and persecution because of our faith (v19).
Heavenly Father, thank You that the world can’t take away the eternal life You have given to me. So whenever I face scary situations or persecution, may I always stand firm in the faith and hang onto You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!