This a three-month long study of just one week in the life of Jesus. The power of this week lies in all that happened. And it deserves both retelling and a careful scrutiny. Bracketed by Palm Sunday on one end and Easter Sunday on the other, this is the most important week in history. On Friday, Jesus will die. On Thursday, Judas will betray Him. Today’s focus is again, on Tuesday.
Jesus visits a worship service on Tuesday, where He sees a widow give everything she has. And then Jesus begins teaching on the destruction of the Temple and His Second Coming. Matthew includes three unique parables that we will not have time for: Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins, His parable on the talents, and His teaching on the sheep and the goats. In the last few hours of Jesus’ life, He devotes Himself to teaching about the upheaval of Jerusalem and His Second Coming. This is known as the Olivet Discourse. This is the longest section in the gospels devoted to Jesus’ one-day return, which is commonly called the Second Coming. Jesus Himself said that even He did not know when He was coming. Again, Jesus said the time of His coming is a sealed mystery known to the Father alone. Even the angels of heaven do not know. And any man who says he knows when Jesus Christ is coming is lying. So we are not to speculate on dates. We are not speculate on the day. The hallway of history is littered with corpses of false prophets who had claimed to have figured out the exact date of the Second Coming. Beware of anyone who enters into empty speculation about the exact date of Jesus’ Second Coming.
The Second Coming is not to be topic for argumentation but accept His coming. It’s not to be a source for division or debate. Instead, Jesus Second Coming is to be a source of inspiration. It should be something we think about to lift one another up – to encourage one another in our work for the Lord. The Second Coming should be a source of motivation. Jesus’ coming again should keep us on alert at our post. We need to be looking for the Second Coming. We need to be longing for the Second Coming. We need to be living for the Second Coming. And we need to be learning about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We should be ready when He comes again.
1. The Temple’s Future
In Mark 13 and Matthew 24, it is the inner circle of disciples that mention the beautiful temple as they all sat on the Mount of Olives viewing Jerusalem and the temple across the Kidron Valley. The Temple was still under construction at the time and would be so for another thirty years. It was a seemingly innocent question about the Temple. And most anyone would have commented on the Temple for it was beautiful.
In fact, some of the stones being used were up to sixty-seven feet in length and eighteen feet wide. White marble in its appearance, the Temple was decorated by gold and silver everywhere. “And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down’ (Luke 21:5-6). The disciples knew that the Messiah was going to come to Jerusalem and establish his kingdom. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah and they were wondering when he was going to go back to Jerusalem and set up his reign over this earth. Even though they were reading from the same book as Jesus was, they were not quite on the same page. You see, the disciples were thinking about a successful coming. They thought that Jesus was going to march right into Jerusalem immediately, conquer the Romans, and exalt the Jewish nation in order to set up his kingdom. But Jesus began to speak of His second coming. The reason was this: they could see the crown, but they could not see the cross. They could see Jesus sitting on a throne, but they could not see Jesus hanging on a tree.
Again, the magnificence of the temple and its contents constantly aroused wonder among spectators and visitors alike. The Temple was destroyed just as Jesus predicted some forty years after He made this prediction.
2. Jerusalem’s Future
Their first question is followed by a second question. And it’s here that Jesus expands from the destruction of the Temple to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place” (Luke 21:8)? Jesus grants their request and gives them some signs of what is coming next. Now signs are for seeing. Signs are to let us know that the end is near.
2.1 False Christs
“See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them” (Luke 21:8). Fraudsters appeared as early as twenty years after Jesus’ ascension claiming to be the returning Messiah. So Jesus warns them not to be misled. In the last fifty years 1,100 separate individuals have claimed to be the Messiah, th Savior of the world. One of the most recent ones being Sun Yung Moon. Amazingly, many people have chosen to take the Moon over the Son.
“And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once. Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Luke 21:9-10).
Now we all know this is nothing new. There have always been wars and rumors of wars. According to the Society of International Law at London there have only been 268 years of peace in the last 4,000 years of human history, despite the signing of more than 8,000 separate peace treaties. It has been calculated by a former president of the Norwegian Academy of Science that since 3600 B.C. over 14,531 wars have been waged in which 3,640,000,000 people have been killed. Over forty wars have been fought since World War II, and today one out of every four nations on earth is engaged in some type of military conflict.
2.3 Natural Disasters
“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).
“But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake” (Luke 21:12).
Christians will be hunted down like dogs. You will be betrayed by your dearest friends and your closest relatives: “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death” (Luke 21:16). Furthermore, the world won’t care. There will be no one to defend you. But always remember God has a purpose even in persecution. One of the purposes is for you to witness: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:13-15). And one of his purposes is to reveal true believers. Someone has observed that every church has three kinds of members - effective, ineffective, and defective. In the fires of persecution the cream will rise to the top. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). It will be in the fires of persecution that the dross of the church will be melted away and the golden saints of God will be revealed.
2.5 Jerusalem Falls
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24). Not a single Jew was left alive in Jerusalem, and those who survived were, in fact, taken captive and sent all over the world. The entire city fell is AD 70 – some forty years after Jesus’ predicted this.
3. The Future of the World
Jesus makes a transition. Instead of speaking about the immediate future of the Temple and Jerusalem, He now expands His teaching. Jesus is talking about two clearly different events separated by many centuries. Think of the eye doctor and her machines for a minute. You sit in the chair and she says, “One or two? Which is better: one or two?” Just as your eye doctor switches between lens, Jesus will switch from ancient history to the immediate future.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).
Again, Jesus switches from events now in our history to events in our future. The clue for us is verse 27: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). The Bible is One Big Story The Bible is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Indeed, the Bible tells a story that makes sense of the smaller stories of each of our individual lives. The Bible is a single story. Even though there are two testaments, there is but one story. Here’s the Bible’s big story in four sentences…
1. God made the world.
2. The world itself was devastated because we turned away from Him.
3. God reentered the world to rescue us from sin and death.
4. And one day, God will remake the world – he’ll completely restore the world at the end.
Again, the Bible tells one story. It begins with an innocent garden and it ends in a glorious garden city. And we are living between the first and second coming of Jesus. We are living between God’s reentry where He rescued us from sin and death and His complete restoration of the world in the coming days.
As I think about the life of Jesus, there are so many things I wish I could have seen. I wish I could have been there to see Him turn water into wine. I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of those hosting the wedding part or even His mother Mary when He performed this marvelous miracle. And I would have loved to see Jesus feed the 5,000. Wouldn’t it have been something to see Jesus take a few loaves and some fished and feed 5,000 people? Wouldn’t you have just loved to walk alongside just one of the disciples as they served the multitudes with the portion the Lord have him and to see the food just continue to multiply? I would have loved to have been present for Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead. I would have loved to watch as Lazarus came out of the tomb as a mummy. Oh, to see him wrapped up in burial clothes as if he was wrapped in a bed sheet. And I would have loved to see the faces of the people, especially Lazarus’ family. And who wouldn’t have loved to watch as Jesus walked on water? How the molecules would have formed to solid under His feet. I would have loved to have seen this. But of all the things, I wish I could have seen, there’s one thing I will be able to see – Jesus’ Second Coming. That same Lord who came up from the clouds, is going to come back with the clouds. When Jesus comes again, all of heaven is going to come with him. The angels will be his attendants, the saints will be his soldiers, and the clouds will be his chariots. With the sound of a trumpet that will wake the dead, and the voice of the archangel that will shake the living, Jesus will come again.
4. Your Future
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-37).
Jesus is coming again. I’m more sure of this that water being wet and dirt being dry. Jesus is coming again. Stay alert. Stay awake. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Every eye will see him. I don’t care if there are 1 trillion people on earth when He returns. For when Jesus comes back everyone will see Him and everyone is going to know about it. The man who is sleep will wake up. The child who is sitting will stand up. The woman who is working will look up. Those who are talking will shut up. And every sinner and saint will have their eyes glued to the heavens where Jesus Christ will appear. And you will see Him just as every President and every politician and every dictator and every diplomat. You will see Him with every soldier and statesmen for all will have their eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. The astronauts in outer space will see him. The sailors on the submarine will see him. The blind will have their eyes opened to see him. The sea will give up their dead. The cemeteries will be opened. Westminster Abbey will give forth its dead. The catacombs of Rome will be opened. And even the mummies of Egypt will be unwrapped and all of the dead of all of the ages will see his coming.