As the Season After Pentecost and Year C come to a close we are reading this Sunday from Luke 21:5-19 which takes place on Holy Tuesday and is found in Sections 139a and 139b in phase 5d the Harmony of the Gospels. This is what scholars call the “Olivet Discourse”, in which Jesus aims to prepare his disciples for some of the most troubling questions which can torment the most courageous among us. Pragmatists and partial-preterists alike will appreciate today’s lesson which should help us focus on the things that matter most.
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Parsing the Collect – by The Rev. Rob Eaton, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Hemet, CA (used by permission)
Section 139a | Setting of the Discourse
1 Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them,“You see all of these things, don’t you? Most certainly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
1 As he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, see what kind of stones and what kind of buildings!” 2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone on another, which will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 As some were talking about the temple1and how it was decorated with beautiful stones and gifts, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come, in which there will not be left here one stone on another2 that will not be thrown3 down.”4
7 They asked him, “Teacher, so when will these things be?5 What is the sign that these things are about to happen?”
Section 139b | Beginning of Birth Pains
4 Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.
9 Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. 10 Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another.
11 Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. 12 Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 6 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and will lead many astray. 7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains.
9 But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.
10 The Good News must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake,
but he who endures to the end will be saved.
8 He said, “Watch out that you don’t get led astray,6 for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is at hand.’ Therefore don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars7 and disturbances, don’t be terrified, for these things must happen first, but the end won’t come immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines, and plagues in various places. There will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute8 you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 It will turn out as a testimony for you.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to withstand or to contradict. 16 You will be handed over even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will cause some of you to be put to death. 17 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake. 18 And not a hair of your head will perish. 19 “By your endurance you will win your lives.
- Contrast the marvel of the temple’s splendor with the preceding section 138.
- What are the three questions which are asked of Jesus, and how does he respond?
- Jesus taught that Christians will face Tribulation and persecution. In living the life of a Christian, how have you been tempted to lose heart, faith, and ignore your calling to share the Good News?
- What leads people (and you) away these days? What undermines your faith and readiness to share the Good News?
- Given the state of the world, what tenants of your faith has prepared you best for this life and the next?
- How do trials (won or lost) turn out to be a testimony for us? What does this tell you about grace and the nature of eternal life?
- Jesus had just told them about the significance of the widow who gave just two mites as her offering in the temple. In contrast, the temple itself was beautifully adorned. Herod had increased the second temple from 17 to 34 acres, its retaining walls rose 450 ft from the Kidron Valley, it had marvelous Corinthian columns of bronze, gleaming courts and gates, and spacious cloisters. Cicero wrote about Jerusalem’s vast influxes of gold during his lifetime. The total sum of gold and silver contributed annually at the time of Jesus has been estimated to have been approximately $500,000 per year. (Source)
- An easy thought for them to imagine, as in the days in which the vision was given to Haggai, Haggai 1:15b-2:9 (Proper 27 last week). Ponder also the plight of the Jews, who upon returning from Babylon, were looking at a completely demolished temple. They were not doing anything to rebuild it – until Nehemiah takes up the mantle of a leader.
- The words “thrown down” translate the Greek verb καταλύω katalyō can mean literally “to detach in a demolition process.
- Jesus speaks prophetically here just days before his crucifixion about destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke was written in the late Fifties or early Sixties, Acts in the early Sixties. Most certainly some portion of this prophesy was fulfilled in 70AD at the hands of the Roman Army. Given the wealth of the temple treasury, the Roman plunder could well have been worth tens of millions of dollars.
- Prior to this in Luke, Jesus has taught three times on end-time events: 12:35-53, 17:20-37, and 19:41-44.
- CR: 2 Ths 2:3,9-11; 2Cor 11:13-15; 2Tim 3:13; 2Jn 1:7
- By one account America has had only “21 years of peace” and in August of 2014 the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released a study that reported just 11 of 162 countries who were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.
- Persecution of the Early Christians, the Apostles themselves, and Christians today.