Luke's Messiah (01) - Promised Judgment (Luke 21)
Luke’s Messiah (1): Promised Judgment
Luke 21:25–36 - There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations . . .“So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. . . But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The First Advent and the Second Advent - The Church in historical liturgy and in our lectionary rehearses the life of our Lord Jesus in the seasons, Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide and Ascension. In this cycle we follow the Gospels and the main events of Christ’s birth, calling, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. In future weeks we will see the Preparation for Christ’s ministry in the work of John the Baptist, but the first Sunday of Advent always looks ahead to the Second Advent. We mark the First Advent first by remembering the promised time of final judgment and consummation.
The Second Advent and the Destruction of Jerusalem - Our text (Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary) is part of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus speaks of the fall of Jerusalem and his coming in judgment. The time-frame is stated, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.” So there is a clear indication this was to be fulfilled in the first century in a complex of events which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We have an historical account of this in Josephus’s Jewish Wars in which he gives seven cosmic signs (of sun, moon and stars) which happened as this destruction approached.
The Destruction of Jerusalem and Imminent Judgment - If this passage was about 70 A.D. does it apply to us? Yes, for two reasons: 1) The destruction of Jerusalem is a “type” of the end of the world (Matthew Henry, Wesley, Jamison Faucett Brown, et al). Wesley says “the great day, which was typified by the destruction of Jerusalem.” 2) The emphasis here is on the calamity and judgment that will befall those not “on guard” or who do not “stay alert.” So, “Be on guard” and don’t let “that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap” . . . Be alert at all times.” The result is that we must be able “to stand before the Son of Man.” While we may not now face an historical judgment: the fall of USA - yet being ready and alert spiritually always applies. We need to confess our sins and walk in love. We need to put away bitterness and love others. We always need to get our house in order spiritually and relationally so that we could joyfully meet our Lord Jesus at any time. Jesus may not be coming soon but you may soon go to him.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more