Thoughts from reading Luke 21
Here is a record of contrasts.
Jesus and the twelve arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem; and they notice very different things.
Jesus straightaway sees an old widow’s generous gift and points it out to his disciples. The however are transfixed and start talking about the impressive temple architecture. They see what is right before their eyes and are taken in by earthly displays of power, wealth, influence.
Immediately Jesus interjects and throws a spanner into their conversation: this temple? It won’t be standing.
Like the disciples, our immediate response to bad news is: when is it going to happen (tell us so we can avoid, prevent or stay far from it please!).
Jesus’ words at this point?
“watch out that you are not deceived”
If there are candidates for being easily duped; the disciples are already showing signs of qualifying. From the time they step foot onto the temple grounds; their sight and imaginations were already captured by what seems obviously so right: we are a proud people of God; just look at our grand temple even though we are ruled by Romans! Just think how wonderful things will be when we are free from Roman oppression!
Seriously, how many of us day-dream like this all the time? We want God to come and zap our troubles away and prove that following Him was the best decision – right in our enemy’s face. We prosper, peace comes into our homes, our bodies are healed and we fuel up on spiritual highs.
Jesus then helps the disciples with a mindset shift. It’s not a comfortable message at all. In fact, it goes contrary to what they really want to hear. They are sick of being run by Gentiles. What they want is freedom. But Jesus prepares them for persecution. There is a huge difference though. The exile and the Roman oppression are part of God’s discipline of His people. The persecution to come is part of God’s redemption of the world; the destiny of His people (yes, who has ever taught us that?). Listen to what Jesus is saying:
“this will result in your being witnesses to them”
“all men will hate you because of me”
“your redemption is near”
“you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”
Our destiny is to have Christ so pre-eminent that we are willing and thus enabled to stand with Him against the world.
Perhaps, as we witness some of what Jesus described in this passage; Luke 21 can become a discipleship paradigm for us as leaders. We need to teach and prepare our people to be people of destiny; who will have Christ pre-eminent, who know His words to us at such a time:
“do not follow them” v8
“do not be frightened” v9
“make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” v14
“stand up, and lift up your heads…” v28
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life” v34
“be always on the watch and pray” v36
God have mercy on us; and help us raise such a generation.