Summary: The Day of the LORD may be fearsome to some people, but not to all people.
AWAITING THE KING
This chapter contains Luke’s version of Jesus’ temple teaching about the future. The teaching consists of Jesus’ answer to a question posed by the disciples (Luke 21:7). The first part of His discourse (Luke 21:8-24) dealt with the fall of Jerusalem which would take place in 70 A.D. In the second part (Luke 21:25-36) we are being fast-forwarded to the end of the age.
The apocalyptic imagery which Jesus employs (Luke 21:25-27) might at first seem uncharacteristic of our loving Lord Jesus: but He stood in the long tradition of the prophets of old (e.g. Joel 2:30-32; Isaiah 24:19). In fact, the return of Jesus as judge will be no less awesome than the manifestation of the presence of the LORD at Sinai at the first giving of the law. On that occasion Moses had been struck with terror at what the LORD might do to His people on account of their sins (Deuteronomy 9:19; Hebrews 12:21).
The culmination of these end-times events is the sudden appearing of “the Son of man” (Jesus’ favourite name for Himself) in the clouds, “with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). This brings to mind the vision of Daniel, when he saw ‘one like unto the son of man’ (the risen Lord Jesus) arriving in heaven on a cloud and being ushered into the presence of God to receive ‘dominion, and glory, and a kingdom’ (Daniel 7:13-14).
The Daniel passage indicates where Jesus has been in the time since His ascension, and until now (Acts 1:9-11). It also serves to identify the nobleman in one of Jesus’ earlier parables, ‘who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return’ (Luke 19:12).
We love to sing songs with words like, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the lamb’ – and rightly so. However, there is more to our redemption than ‘the hour I first believed’ (to quote another song). There remains to be fully fulfilled ‘the redemption of our body’ (Romans 8:23).
Jesus says to His Christian friends, “When you see these things begin to happen, look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). The ‘day of the LORD’ may be fearsome to some people, but not to all people.
However, we must not be caught unawares. Jesus reiterates - using a parable of “a fig tree and all trees” - that “when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31). The signs of the times may already be upon us, with their blood moons, political upheavals and all. Whatever “this generation” (Luke 21:32) may refer to, Jesus assures us that His words certainly will not fail (Luke 21:33).
How should we live in these in-between times as we await the return of Jesus? First of all, we must be aware of the dangers of the age in which we live, so that that day does not catch us unawares (Luke 21:34). Second, recognise the universality of what is going to happen so that we don’t get caught in the snare of complacency (Luke 21:35).
Finally, be alert and aware with watchfulness and prayer, so that we might be able to stand before Him in that great and awesome day (Luke 21:36)!