Luke 21


‘As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.’ Luke 21:1

Jesus sat down, looked up and observed people contributing to the temple treasury. He saw many rich people deposit large offerings into the temple treasury, Mark 12:41.

The Temple Treasury

In the New Testament, there seems to be a lot of things happening in and around the temple treasury which is also known as the Court of Women.

It was called the Court of the Women, as that is as far as women were allowed to enter the temple courts. It was in this court where Jesus was presented for purification as a child, the place where they met Simeon and Anna, Luke 2.25-38.

We know that Jesus taught in the treasury, Matthew 21.23 / John 7:14 / John 7:28 / John 8:2 / John 8:20, but one thing we should bear in mind is that He never actually entered the sanctuary itself because it was only the priests who were allowed to enter.

The treasury was a court that was located to the east of the temple itself, just below the Nicanor Gate. The Sanhedrin often met there, and it was here where they brought the woman who was supposedly caught in the act of adultery, John 8:1-20.

In the treasury, there were thirteen boxes on the wall, into which people could drop their offering money into. They are made of bronze and called trumpets because of their shape.

The Widow’s Offering

‘He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.’ Luke 21:2

Not only did Jesus see many rich people deposit large offerings into the temple treasury, but He also saw an impoverished widow give two small coins which were nearly worthless, Mark 12:42.

The Copper Coins

The KJV uses the word ‘mite’ which was a very small Jewish coin called a ‘lepton’, meaning ‘the thin one’, it’s sometimes called a farthing or a penny, Luke 12:59, it was made of bronze or copper and was the smallest in terms of the value of all the Roman Coins, Mark 12:42.

Some commentators suggest that the Jewish law at the time, wouldn’t allow anyone to give less than two gifts, if this is true then it’s clear she gave the smallest amount legally possible.

How Did Jesus Know What She Gave?

I’ve personally held one of these coins in my hand and I must say it’s tiny, I would say around the size of our old British ½ pennies. How did Jesus know that this widow had given in two little coins?

It’s possible that He saw them, we certainly know that He knows all things and all people but it’s also possible that the sound these coins made against the metal would have indicated how much people offered to the temple.

“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:3-4

The Lord explained that the widow had contributed more than the rich, more than all of them put together is being suggested here, she put in everything she had, while the rich had simply given their left-over change, Mark 12:43-44.

This is the difference between a collection and an offering, when we stand outside a supermarket we usually find someone rattling a collection box and if we like the cause, well do our shopping and give them any spare change we have leftover.

An offering isn’t about giving the left-over change, it’s purposely given, the amount is purposively given, we give first then do whatever we need to do with the rest.

Why Did Jesus Commend The Widow’s Gift?

If she literally gave everything she had and only had two coins to her name, this speaks volumes about her faith in God to take care of her daily needs. Her offering was a reflection of her heart.

What she gave was in accordance with God’s law, hence two coins and if that’s all she had, then it was truly a sacrificial gift because this meant she had nothing left.

She is the example of sacrificial living which is in contrast with those who spend their wealth on everything else but reluctantly give God the leftovers, Matthew 6:19-21.

Her giving was easy because she knew her giving wouldn’t affect her lifestyle, she trusted in God and not in wealth. She gave because she truly loved God and expressed her love for Him through her giving, 2 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Jesus Contradicts Modern Views Of Giving

Many modern churches seem to regard large donations more highly than small ones. Some honour wealthy donors in special ways and allow them more influence in church policy, occasionally they even ridicule small contributions as unworthy of the Lord. It’s clear that the Lord Himself viewed giving in a very different way.

Jesus wasn’t impressed by the size of the offering, whether large or small, but He was very concerned with the attitude of the giver. To Jesus, the gift of the widow, while having almost no monetary value, was worth much more than the large and impressive donations of the rich. We need to think of riches as Jesus did.

Jesus teaches us that giving has little to do with the amount we give but the attitude in which we give. He sees what we give, He knows the amount we give but He also knows how much we have kept back for ourselves.

The poor among us should take great comfort from the widow’s example, and they should know that their ‘small’ offering is just as accepted by God as someone who is rich and making a ‘large’ offering.

Even today in our churches we have those who give a ‘large’ amount because they have to, God says, we must give! But then you get those others, who, out of a heart of thanksgiving for what God has done in their lives, may give ‘less’ because that’s all these have, but their hearts are right.

When we look at the Christian faith as a whole, we know that our faith isn’t just about receiving but it’s also about giving, Acts 20:35 / 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 / Philippians 4:8-18.

To be a Christian means we need to be willing to sacrifice, even in our finances. If we will first give ourselves to the Lord, 2 Corinthians 8:5 we will have no problem being liberal in our giving. Remember Jesus saw what the widow put into the temple treasury, so He still sees today, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

The Destruction Of Jerusalem And The Temple

‘Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” Luke 21:5-7

In the previous chapter, Jesus declared judgment on the city of Jerusalem, Matthew 23:38. He also said that this would happen in the generation of those He was speaking to, Matthew 23:36.

The apostles here, are obviously impressed with the physical structure, that is, the temple that Herod the Great had built and probably wondered why God was going to destroy the temple.

Jesus tells them that not one stone here will be left on another and everyone will be thrown down, which I’m sure would have shocked the disciples.

Jesus was preparing the disciples for the final pronounced judgment on Israel, Jerusalem and the temple, Matthew 13:3-9 / Matthew 13:36-43 / Matthew 21:33-46 / Matthew 22:1-14 / Matthew 23:29-39. The destruction would be great and final, Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

It’s at this point that Peter, James, John and Andrew later came to Jesus privately while He was on the Mount of Olives, Mark 13:3.

In Matthew 24:3, we see that His disciples raised the matters of His Return and the end of the Age. They asked three questions.

1. There was a question concerning the destruction of the Temple and the City.

2. A question concerning ‘the sign of His coming’.

3. A question concerning ‘the end of the world’.

But here in Luke’s account, Luke only records Jesus’ response to the first two questions. He doesn’t record Jesus’ response concerning the end of the world.

1. There was a question concerning the destruction of the Temple and the City.

2. A question concerning ‘the sign of His coming’.

Notice that the disciples are not asking Jesus when the end of the world would come, and what would be the sign it was about to take place.  They wanted to know when the temple would be torn down, and what the sign would be that its destruction was imminent.

Jesus Answers Their Questions

‘He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.’ Luke 21:8-11

Before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, there would be, been false messiahs, rebellions, persecution, betrayals and false prophets.

Mark 13:22 says that false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. Sadly, we know this happened, Acts 13:9 / 2 Timothy 3:12 / 1 John 2:18.

Before the siege of Jerusalem, there would be many disturbing events, false messiahs, false prophets, battles in various countries, widespread anarchy, earthquakes, Acts 16:26, famine, Acts 11:28, and plagues.

These would be only the beginning of the many troubles that would all happen before the destruction of the temple, Matthew 24:8 / Mark 13:8.

The disciples to whom he was speaking would be persecuted by the Jewish religious leaders, be betrayed even by their close relatives and killed. They would be hated everywhere, Matthew 24:9.

All this had to happen before the temple was destroyed, Mark 13:5-13 / Luke 21:8-17. They were required to remain faithful throughout all those traumatic experiences, Matthew 24:13 / Mark 13:13.

In Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10, we learn that only when the Gospel had been preached to all nations would the temple economy be finally terminated.

The word ‘end’ in Matthew 24:14 refers to the destruction of the Temple. Even by the apostles, Acts 1:2 / Acts 1:4 / Acts 1:8 ‘in all the world’, ‘all nations’. Colossians 1:23 ‘every creature’.

The destruction of the temple and the cessation of the sacrifices brought to an end all vestiges of the Mosaic era. Writing to Hebrew Christians, a few years before the destruction of the temple, the writer wrote, ‘In that he said, A new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and grows old is ready to vanish away.’ Hebrews 8:13.

The Roman Historian Tacitus, says the following.

‘The history on which I am entering is that of a period rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, horrible even in peace. Four emperors fell by the sword, there were three civil wars, more foreign wars, and often both at the same time.’

Josephus documents several great signs from heaven preceding 70 A.D.  He wrote of a star in the shape of a sword that hung over the city of Jerusalem for a whole year.

He wrote of a number of people who looked up and saw soldiers in armour running about in the clouds. Josephus was completely ignorant of what Jesus taught on the subject but did write about signs in the heavens.

Whatever was the cause of these things, and whatever was their nature, real or imaginary, they were certainly ‘terrors’ to those who experienced them, thus vindicating Jesus’ prophecy.

‘But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.’ Luke 21:12-19

Jesus’ words concerning their persecution were literally fulfilled in the Book of Acts. The Jews delivered the apostles up to the Sanhedrin. They were flogged and imprisoned. It did lead to an opportunity for testimony before kings and governors. Paul testified before Agrippa, Felix and Festus.

He begins to inform His disciples of the upcoming persecution they are likely to receive. They need to be on their guard because they will be handed over to local councils and flogged in the synagogues, Matthew 23:34 / Acts 5:18 / Acts 5:40 / Acts 9:16 / Acts 12:1 / Acts 22:19 / Acts 26:11.

They will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and the Gentiles, Acts 5:18 / Acts 12:1. This will happen because they follow Christ and when they get arrested, they aren’t to worry about what to say or how to speak because the Holy Spirit Himself will speak through them, Mark 13:11 / Luke 12:11-12 / Luke 21:14-15 / John 14:26 / John 16:13-14 / Acts 4:8 / Acts 13:9.

Wesley, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Not a hair of your head shall perish is a proverbial expression, meaning that ye shall not perish, that is, without the special providence of God, and not before the time, nor without full reward.’

In other words, they can kill the apostle’s bodies but not their souls, Matthew 10:28. If the apostles stand firm they will win life, that is, they will be saved, Matthew 24:13.

‘When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. ‘Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ Luke 21:20-24

Then there would be the sign that it was time to flee. In Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, this sign is referred to as ‘the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.’ Daniel mentions three different desolations.

1. That was previously caused by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 9:17.

3. That was eventually caused by Antiochus Epiphanes, Daniel 8:13 / Daniel 12:11.

3. The series of desolations that would occur at the time of the Roman siege, from AD 68 to AD 70, Daniel 9:26-27.

Note that Hebrew years were grouped into sevens by Sabbatical years, Leviticus 25:1-4.

The Lord Jesus was talking about the third one. Daniel predicted how, after the execution of the Messiah, war and desolations would be poured upon ‘the desolate’.

The city and the temple would be destroyed by the prince’s people. This was done in AD 70, by Titus’ army, even though he had commanded them to spare the temple.

The words ‘desolations are determined’ indicate that it would be a period of several desolations. These culminated in the destruction of the temple and devastation of Jerusalem and Judaea.

The Lord spoke of a specific desolation taking place where it had no right to be, Mark 13:14, even in ‘the Holy Place’, Matthew 24:15.

The Holy Place was the first of the two sacred rooms of the temple proper. Josephus records how, to the dismay of many priests, Jewish Zealots took over the temple during the siege and turned it into a fortress. The Zealots set up the command headquarters in the Holy place, ‘where it ought not’ to be, Mark 13:14.

This desolation of the Holy Place was the ‘sign’ to flee to the mountains. Matthew and Mark made it clear to the readers that they were to flee and not return to the city when.

1. The Temple Holy Place was desecrated and

2. The city was surrounded by Roman troops, Luke 21:20-21 / Matthew 24:15-18 / Mark 13:14-16.

Troops encircling the city would indicate that its devastation was imminent.

The desolation mentioned in Matthew and Mark is the desecration of the Holy Place by the Jewish Zealots, in setting up their command headquarters there. Whereas the desolation referred to in Luke 21:20 is the subsequent devastation of the city.

And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation of it is near. Then let those who are in Judaea flee to the mountains and let those who are in the midst of it depart out and don’t let those who are in the countries enter into it, Luke 21:20-21.

During the siege of AD 70, there was a short break in hostilities. That day, Christians, heeding this advice, took that opportunity to flee Jerusalem. According to the historian Eusebius, there was no record of any Christian perishing in the siege.

Notice they were ‘to flee Judea and go into the mountains.’ Luke tells us, ‘for it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.’ Luke 21:35. The mountains on the east of Jordan have many interconnecting caves where numerous folk could hide in safety.

For obvious reasons, it would be very difficult for pregnant women to get out of Jerusalem, especially if they are a few months pregnant. In Matthew 24:20 they are to pray that they would not have to flee on the Sabbath. This confirms that these predictions are to do with the Jews living then. They have nothing to do with the end of the world.

 The horrors that would ensue would exceed anything else in history, either in the past or in the future, Matthew 24:19-22 / Mark 13:17-19.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem Titus’ soldiers desolated the whole country. But, God stopped them from pursuing those who had fled into the mountains, Matthew 24:22 / Mark 13:20.

Josephus who was a Jewish historian and Eusebius a Christian historian tell us that’s exactly what happened. What did most of the Jews do when the Roman army under Titus came? They did the exact opposite of what Jesus said.

When the Roman army showed up, they all gathered their belongings and ran into Jerusalem for safety. And what followed was, one of the most horrific accounts of suffering and desolation ever recorded.

Josephus writes about things that happened when that city was surrounded, that are so abominable, it’s hard to put it in writing, it’s hard to describe how gruesome the suffering was, as one million Jews eventually lost their lives.

The Romans came in and literally like Jesus said, the gold in the temple was burned and melted into the cracks. They took stone by stone of that temple and that city apart and then they totally blazed the place. Josephus said, ‘When they were through, you couldn’t believe that anybody had ever lived there.’

But the Christians according to Eusebius, when they saw that army, they remembered Jesus’ words and they ran quickly out of town. Remember Jesus said, ‘run to the mountains’? Matthew 24:16.

They ran through the city up to the Transjordan Mountains called ‘Pella’, and the Christians were saved. We can’t imagine how the fall of Jerusalem was to Jews and Christians all over the world, it made all the headlines. I mean to a Jew the fall of Jerusalem, that’s like the end of an age, if Jerusalem falls, God must be dead.

Now there are about 40 years between the death of Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem. And I believe this was because Jesus was going to give the Gospel a chance to be preached all over the world to prepare Jews and Gentiles for what was coming, Matthew 24:14.

Such a proclamation was going to let the world know of God’s justification for the destruction of Jerusalem. The Gospel is going to go into all the world, the story of how the Jews rejected and killed their own Messiah was going to go into all the world.

Now did that happen? Well I believe it did Acts 2:5 / Romans 1:8 / Colossian 1:6 / Colossians 1:23. And so in one generation’s time, everywhere, especially in the cities where Jews live, the Gospel was preached and people were prepared for what God was about to do.

I believe that Jerusalem’s destruction signalled that the fuller dispensation was over and would never return. God was going to raise up a new Israel, consisting of the elect of every nation on earth.

‘There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ Luke 21:25-33

Here, Jesus is actually using Old Testament judgement language, Matthew 24:29. Jesus is using a language that some call apocalyptic and it was very familiar to students of the Old Testament.

We’re not familiar with it because we’re Gentiles and so sometimes we think they’re talking about the second coming when they aren’t necessarily doing so.

For example, in apocalyptical language, you often announced judgement by saying the whole cosmic structure, sun, moon, stars, were going to be shaken. In fact, that was just an Old Testament way of saying God was about to judge a nation.

Let me give you three examples. In Isaiah 12 we read about a judgement against Babylon, “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.”

Isaiah 13:10. That’s not to be interpreted literally, that’s a figure of that particular style of writing saying that God is going to judge Babylon.

In Isaiah 34 we read about a judgement against Edom. “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shrivelled figs from the fig tree.” Isaiah 34:4

In Ezekiel 32 we read about a judgement against Egypt. “When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 32:7-8

What I’m saying is, when a Jew heard language like, the stars are going to be darkened, the moon is going turn to dark, the sun is going to fall.

When they heard talk like that, they didn’t think, that the ‘end of the world,’ they thought, what nation is God judging now? And when Jesus uses that kind of language in His sermon, He’s saying that God is sending judgement on Israel. Just like He did on Egypt, just like He did on Edom and Babylon.

People say, ‘well what about verse 27?’ “They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30. The meaning could be that they will see the Romans coming to destroy the Jews, and in that see Christ ruling and reigning from heaven bringing to pass God’s purposes.

I’m going to say that’s judgement language. Let me give you an example from Isaiah 19:1 “An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.”

Remember Jesus said, Matthew 23:36 “All these things will happen in this generation.”  He also said in Matthew 24:34 ‘Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’

What I believe He did was, He used the judgement language that the Jews understood to say this, ‘all those things that have happened to Babylon, all those things that have happened to Egypt and Edom, now its Israel’s turn.’

Look at Matthew 26:64, I used to think this referred to the second coming of Christ but I’m not too sure now. Remember when Jesus was before Caiaphas the high priest in trial and Caiaphas says, ‘You tell me if you are the Son of God?’

And Jesus says this, Matthew 26:64 “Yes, it is as you say,” “But I say to all of you: In the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Now is that a reference to the second coming? Notice it says, ‘He’s sitting at the right hand.’

It doesn’t say He’s standing or riding a horse, He’s sitting. I think what Jesus is saying there is, “Caiaphas, this day you are my judge, you and your people are judging me, but the day is coming and you’re going to see it when I’m sitting at the right hand of God and I’m sending my judgement to you.” And Caiaphas’ generation saw that prophecy come true.

In this text, Jesus is bringing the news of the passing of one era and the establishment of another in which the glory of God isn’t going to be in the temple made by hands anymore.

We’re so far removed from this text at this time, we don’t understand why this text is so important. In the 1st century world, before you could ever preach the Gospel of Jesus, you had to explain what happened to Israel.

Why is it the dispensation of Israel, the way that God is working?

What is all this, Gentiles are included in the kingdom? What is all this, Messiah has come and they crucified Him but He rose again?

You had to explain that God had ended an era and judged Israel and now the kingdom is going to be made up of the elect of every nation. Because most Jews saw the end of the temple, as the end of the world.

Jesus is using the language that they understood and He was trying to explain to them, ‘listen the destruction of Jerusalem, is really the work of God.’

What Jesus was trying to prepare the church for was this, ‘something is about to happen in about 40 years that going to shake your world, the holy city is going to be wiped out, the temple is going to be gone but God is behind it, God is doing it and God is in control.’

Many of the signs that people use to predict His return aren’t signs at all. In troubled times people are very eagerly looking to the signs of the last days. I believe we have been in the last days ever since the coming of Jesus.

In Acts 2:17 Peter said what happened with the outpouring of the Spirit happened, “In these last days.” In Hebrews 1:1-2 it says, “In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”

We’re in the last days, but people talk about all the wars that are going on, but these wars haven’t been any worse than they have before. Famines aren’t new, a famine was recorded in Acts 11, and there were famines before the destruction of Jerusalem, earthquakes aren’t new things.

We need to be very careful that you aren’t convinced by all these signs that people are talking about that proves the very end is near. ‘These things’ verse 28, Matthew 24:6, have been going on since the days of creation and they will continue to go on until Jesus returns.

Jesus says, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.” Matthew 24:32.

I don’t think the mention of the fig tree is talking about a re-established state of Israel. Sometimes the fig tree in the Bible refers to Israel, but he said in Luke, “Look at all the trees,” Luke 21:29.

And the point I think He’s making is, ‘you know when trees begin to bud, you know summer is near.’ Summer is on its way when the trees start to bud.

So the thing that Jesus is predicting is, ‘when you see those signs, you know it’s near.’ Remember when Jesus after the triumphant entry went to the temple and He cleansed the temple, and He came out of the temple and He saw a fig tree.

And it had lots of leaves and He went to get some fruit but it didn’t have any, and He cursed it, and said, ‘May you never bear fruit again,’ Matthew 21:19.

Now almost all scholars see that as an allusion to Israel. He said in Matthew 21:19 of the fig tree, “May you never bear fruit again.” I don’t think that three chapters later He’s talking about Israel.

If you look at the word ‘generation’ in Matthew, every single time it’s used, it’s talking about the current hearer. I don’t see a reason to make it mean something different in Matthew 24.

Jesus is saying, “everything that I have just told you, is going to happen, is going to happen in this generation’s lifetime.” What Jesus was saying, was going to happen in the lifetime of that generation.

I think the key to understanding this is in verse 32, ‘Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’ Matthew 24:34.

‘These things’ is an interesting phrase. We will never understand sign language unless we ask someone what it means.

And that’s what Mark and Luke did in their Gospels, where we have the parallel passages with this particular sermon, the disciples ask Jesus, ‘Tell us what are the signs of these things?’ Matthew 24:3 / Mark 13:4.

At the end of all three Gospels, He says, “This generation will not pass away until these things happen,” Matthew 24:34 / Luke 21:32 / Mark 13:30.

The real question is, what does Jesus mean by the word ‘generation’? So there are different views and one view says, “well that’s talking about Israel, “Israel the nation will not pass away until this happens.”

Or it’s talking about the race of the Hebrews. Or it means the generation that’s alive when the tribulation starts, they won’t pass away until this happens.

I’m going to challenge that view, even though it’s very popular. It became very popular among the dispensationalists when Israel in 1948 became a state.

They said, ‘well, that’s a sign,’ the fig tree is budding and in this generation, Jesus has to come back. And so when this didn’t happen, they changed their mind and said that Jesus will definitely come back before 2048. And that’s a common view among a lot of people, let me challenge that view.

After hearing Jesus’ harsh sermon, this chapter comes right after Matthew 23. A long chapter where He just criticises and gives woe one after the other to the Jewish people. And right after that and He’s just walked out of the temple, the last time He’ll be there, He was leaving the temple forever.

The disciples may be concerned that He has been so harsh to the Jewish people lately and they’re trying to find some kind of a positive response.

They say in Mark 13:1 “Look at how impressive these buildings are.” But we need to understand there has been all the way through the Gospel of Matthew a theme that a coming judgment against Israel is near.

Let me show you some examples. John the baptiser is preaching, the Pharisees and Sadducees come out to see him Matthew 3:7 / Matthew 7:10.

So we have wrath that’s coming. In Matthew 8 Jesus meets a Gentile soldier that wants Him to heal his servant, Matthew 8:7-10. And look what he said next, He spoke about judgment, Matthew 8:11-12.

Another example is where He tells this parable of tenants in Matthew 21. And the father sends servants to the vineyard but the tenants kill him, then he sends his own son and they kill him too. And so the father says, “I am going to punish those wicked tenants.” And look what he says, He speaks about judgment. Matthew 21:43.

We begin to understand why the Jews were so angry with Jesus, they couldn’t have missed the point of His sermon. One more example, Matthew 23, this whole chapter is just one woe after the other to the Jews and again He speaks about judgment, Matthew 23:32-36.

However, the immediate concern for them was to be ready to flee. In the parable of the fig tree, Matthew 24:32-33 and Mark 13:28-29, the Lord reverts to talking about the events preceding the devastation of the temple, Matthew 24:4-15 / Matthew 24:21-26 / Mark 13:5-14 / Mark 13:19-23.

All the predictions leading up to and including the destruction of the temple would be fulfilled within the lifetime of people listening to the Lord Jesus, Matthew 24:34 / Mark 13:30. They have nothing to do with ‘end times’.

The phrase ‘this generation’ occurs 15 times in the New Testament. Everyone is where the Lord is referring to the generation of people to whom he was talking. Whereas the phrase ‘that generation’ is used when referring to folk of a different time, Hebrews 3:10.

Dreadful and devastating as the events would be, they wouldn’t stop the Lord’s words from continuing to reach out to all mankind, Mark 13:31.

‘Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

Jesus tells His disciples not to allow their hearts to be weighed down with drunkenness and worries, because if they do, 70 A.D. Will come on them suddenly like a trap.

Notice the words, ‘for it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth’. Those words appear to be speaking about the end of the world, however, we need to note that the word, ‘earth’ here, is the Greek word ‘ge’, which can mean earth or land. I believe it must mean ‘land’ here, referring to the land of Israel because that is the meaning in Luke 21:23.

Instead, they must keep on the alert at all times, praying that they might have the strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.

In other words, rather than fall in the judgment, they are to pray that they will stand before Jesus as you do now and escape this judgement.

Be careful that you don’t fall back into sinful patterns, or carousing with the unbelieving Jews, because if you do, you will not escape this horrific judgment that is about to come upon Jerusalem.

‘Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.’ Luke 21:37-38

Jesus taught in the temple each day and in the evening he spend the night on the hill called Mount of Olives.

Some commentators suggest that Jesus stayed with Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany, whose house was on the slopes of the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem, Luke 22:39 / John 8:1-2.

Notice the people came to Jesus early in the morning to hear Him teach.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Jesus, teaching at the temple.

‘This has reference to the daily schedule of teachings followed by Jesus. This mention of the early hour shows that the days were very long working periods, filled to the utmost with teaching by the Master.’

Go To Luke 22