Mar 26 // Day 33
Jesus’ teaching inspired by the widow’s offering concludes the point He was making at the end of chapter 20 (see yesterday’s blog) – this woman gives from the overflow of her heart, showing that she understands the generosity of the Father. Such an offering is pleasing to God and is in contrast to those who give, not sacrificially, but out of religious duty.
Throughout the rest of this chapter, Jesus then prophesises about the signs that this age is coming to an end.
He tells the disciples that the temple will be destroyed, something He has already spoken of (see Day 30 – Luke 19: 41-46). This, of course was fulfilled when the Romans destroyed the temple in AD70. As a symbol of the nation of Israel and their worship of God, this idea was unthinkable. Here Jesus is intertwining future ‘near’ events (the destruction of the temple) and future ‘distant’ events (his second coming) – the first being symbolic of the latter when Jesus returns to judge the whole earth.
Jesus is keen to stress that these in-between times, from his ascension to heaven and then his return at the end of this age, will be full of difficulties and cataclysmic events (v.9). The disciples (and, by extension, us too) should not be afraid (v.9) and should not be led astray by others claiming to be the Messiah (v. 8).
His detailing of the persecution His followers will encounter (v.12-19) is an accurate portrayal of the experiences of the early church, as detailed by Luke in Acts (for example: Acts 4: 1-22; Acts 5:17-42; Acts 7 and so on) and, of course, is still a reality for the persecuted church around the world. Jesus’ assurance of His presence and provision is deeply precious.
Again, this prophecy probably refers to both distant and near events. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 was complete and brutal. Jesus warns that people should not stay in the city, perhaps staying to defend it out of misplaced national loyalty, but should flee. Jesus shows care and concern for those who are most vulnerable when a nation is at war – pregnant women and those with small children (v.23).
These verses use imagery and language from a prophecy in the Old Testament, found in Daniel 7. This prophecy looked to the coming of the ‘son of man’ and introduced the idea that the one who was coming (namely, Jesus) would be both fully human and fully God. Here in Luke, Jesus borrows from Daniel 7 to look to the time when He will come again, bringing history to its’ end. Just as the first leaf on a fig tree foretells that summer is on its way, these signs that He has described will foretell that Jesus is on His way.
v.32 has been interpreted in many different ways. Clearly the actual generation that Jesus is talking to here has passed away and yet Jesus has not come back again (yet!). Whilst it is hard to be too definitive, it could be that ‘generation’ refers to this age that we are still in (in-between Jesus having come and Jesus coming again). Or, it could be that Jesus is referring to the ‘nearer’ events (the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple) which indeed did come to pass within many of the disciples’ lifetime (some 40 years later).
However we interpret this rather tricky verse, and indeed chapter, one thing is clear – we should not become complacent in the waiting (v.34-36). Jesus is coming back and we must not lose a sense of urgency in spreading His Kingdom message before He does.
Thanks for joining us today! Remember you can use the tools we’ve provided in the Reading Plan to help you engage with each passage of scripture.