Passage: Luke 21
This chapter, called the Olivet Discourse, in which Jesus predicts what will happen in the end times is found in all three synoptic gospels (synoptic = synopsis. Matthew, Mark & Luke present a synopsis of events in Jesus' life, while John records fewer events, but more of Jesus' teaching and thinking).
v1-4 - A good argument could be made that this opening passage, demonstrating Jesus' admiration of the humble, should be part of chapter 20.
v5-7 - While taking in the magnificent temple, the disciples set up Jesus response in the remainder of the chapter by asking two questions that have been on the mind of nearly every generation:
When will the end come?
How will we know it's arrived?
v8-31- Jesus tackles the second of their two questions first by describing the signs that will accompany the end times. He begins by describing what it will be like at this time in general for Christians experiencing persecution, wars and immense natural disasters. Yet over and over He repeats phrases like "do not be frightened (v9)," "stand firm (v19)," and "stand up and lift up your head (v28)" because you realize that it's not the end that's coming, but rather it's that "your day of redemption is drawing near (v28)."
v32-38 - Jesus next answers the disciples' first question regarding when these things will take place, and it's much trickier to interpret what He means here, especially when He says "this generation will not pass away until all of these things have taken place (v32)," yet here we are two thousand years later and we're still waiting. In one sense, the very people listening to Jesus speak these words experienced their fulfilment when Jerusalem was sacked by Rome in AD 70 (v20-24). Jewish historians tell of immense suffering that corresponds to what Jesus prophesies here. In another sense, because we're very familiar with how Jesus uses hyperbole in so many of His teachings, we can interpret what He says here to mean that "generation" refers not to a specific time frame of people, but rather to all of Adam's children, including you and me and those who come after us.
There are two big takeaways from this chapter, and other eschatological (end times) chapters like it:
Trying to derive specific details from passages where the Holy Spirit purposely speaks in general terms is a fool's errand that will never work out well. Think of how many people have come to ridiculous conclusions about exactly how this or that prophecy is or is about to be fulfilled.
Don't miss the massively comforting statements that the Holy Spirit wants you to grab onto and focus on:
v8 - don't be deceived
v9 - don't be frightened
v14 - don't worry
v19 - stand firm
v28 - stand up and lift your head
v33 - God's Word will never pass away
v34 - Be careful
v36 - Always be on the watch and pray
v36 - Pray that you will be able to stand before the Son of Man
Old Testament Reference -
2 Chronicles 15:1-7 tells of a time long before Jesus where Israel wandered away from God's Word and experienced results that Jesus speaks of in this chapter. See if you can identify:
1) What God's people must do when they find themselves (and their society, as we do now) in this situation;
2) The verse that is almost exactly the same as what Jesus is commanding you to do in Luke 21.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions.
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Where does this chapter say that Jesus was spending each night during this time (v37)?
From what Jesus tells His disciples in this chapter, does He want them to think it will be a long time or a short time before the end of the present age?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Lord & King, whose kingdom is drawing near (v31)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will give you strength to not worry and stand firm as you see His kingdom always drawing closer
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: