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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 19: October 1, 2009, Luke 21.1-38

Day 19: October 1, 2009, Luke 21.1-38

My commentary is found below the text:
Luke 21.1-38

21He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. 9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

20“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; 22for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. 23Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; 24they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

Commentary:   In contrast to the failings of the powerful, this poor widow's attitude is lifted up.  Why?  Certainly we hear that she has given all she has, but more than that, this behavior shows what others have not been able to achieve--trust. Luther in the small catechism reminds us that we are to: "Fear, love, trust and obey God above all else."  I find it slightly ironic that the words: "In God We Trust" is on our money!  Many of us struggle mightily with the desire to trust in cash over and above all things.  Just for fun, give some money away today that you hadn't planned on giving.

Looking at the beauty of the temple, one of the disciples is obviously impressed.  Jesus speaks about an historic reality that will happen in 70 AD (almost 40 years after Jesus died).  The Romans will come and destroy the temple.  The 'gentiles' and their 'armies' will surround Jerusalem.  This reality has already happened it is not a road map outlining future events--as many end of the worlders like to make it.   Luke is reminding his original readers that Jesus had not promised them the proverbial rose garden, but indeed had predicted what was beginning to happen--the persecution of 1st century Christians.  Nevertheless, these followers of Jesus who will be hated because of him can rejoice that their salvation is secure! (vs. 18 - 19).

Now to that most troubling statement that Jesus makes: "32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place."  Three possibilities:  1) Jesus was wrong 2) Luke was wrong--someone Luke interviewed misquoted Jesus or misunderstood him 3) Jesus words reflect the fact that each and every generation has to deal with "wars and rumors of wars."  That each generation has to struggle with what it means to be faithful, and it is their faithfulness which is one more indication of the presense of the kingdom of God--none other than Jesus in our midst.   Regardless, there are some good warnings about not being duped by those who say:  "The time is near!" or "I am he."    (vs 8) What a great reminder Jesus gives us: "Don't go after them!"  I take this to mean, stay true to what Jesus has already told and shown us---the end will take care of itself without any help from me!  If you knew the world was going to end tomorrow--what would you do?   The answer should be:  "I'd do just as I am now, living faithfully as Christ instructed."

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