About Jesus Steve Sweetman
The This - Chapter 21
all know this story of the poor widow who donated the last coins that she
had to live on. Luke tells us
that “Jesus looked up” and saw all the rich people giving gifts at the
think that we should recognize that Jesus is going through an extremely
emotional time during this past week. He knows what is lying ahead of Him.
You can see that these emotions are heightened from the throwing
over of the money changers tables. I
believe He was very reflective during this last week as well.
Maybe He was thinking much of the last three years of ministry.
could have been simply sitting down, gazing at the ground in one of these
reflective moments when He “looked up” and saw this woman.
This struck a chord in His heart and told those around Him that
this woman, although she gave very little, actually gave more than
“all” the others in the eyes of God because she gave all she had.
should note that Jesus didn’t stop her from giving.
He didn’t suggest that the next time she shouldn’t give.
He just let her give. You
can see two things here. You
see Jesus’ heart for the poor. You
can also see how Jesus feels about giving, and that is, even the poor
should give. Poverty does not restrict a person from giving.
chapter is basically divided into five parts after Jesus warns His
disciples in verse 8. These
parts are; 1 – signs that
run through the course of time (verses 9 - 11), 2 - near future of the
disciples (verses12 - 19 ), 3
– destruction of the
learn from Matthew and Mark that Jesus was now leaving the temple. It was most likely on
Tuesday. Mark actually tells
us that the following took
place at the
verse 6 Jesus responded by saying, “as for what you see here, the time
will come when not one stone will be left upon another; everyone of them
will be thrown down”. You
just know that the disciples must have been perplexed by Jesus’ words,
thus the reason for their questions.
need to note that the disciples did not ask one question but two.
They were, “when will these things happen”, and “what will
the sign when they are about to take place”?
We need to look at Matt. 24:3 and note what questions the disciples
asked according to Matthew. They asked, “when will this happen, and what
will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age”.
should also note Mark 13:4 where Mark records these questions.
The disciples asked according to Mark, “when will these things
happen? And what will be the
sign that they are all about to be fulfilled.”
all three accounts there are two questions asked, yet Matthew’s account
is a little different. Luke
and Mark are similar. Both
Luke and Mark ask “when will these things take place, and what will be
the signs”. Matthew ask,
“when will these things take place and what will be the sign of your
coming again”. Do you see
you combine all three versions of these questions you can easily say that
the disciples asked these two questions.
Question one would be,
“when will these things happen, as in when will none of these stones
remain in place in the
questions are important to the rest of the chapter because it is these
questions that Jesus is answering. It will help us to understand the rest
of this chapter when we know what verses apply to what question is asked.
Some have confused the issue by thinking that this whole chapter
refers to the end of the age when Jesus returns, but that is clearly not
the case. Some of what Jesus
speaks about refers to the destruction of
verse 8 Jesus begins to respond to the first question as to “when will
these things take place”, meaning when will the
is interesting to note that Jesus told the disciples not to think that the
time of the end was near, for indeed it was not near for them.
Certain things had to take place. One thing that had to happen
first was that the disciples would hear of wars and revolutions.
Jesus told the disciples “not to be afraid, these things must
happen first, but the end will not come right away”.
Once again, Jesus said that the end “would not come right
away”. The disciples were
told very clearly that the end of the age would not come soon. Some might
say that the word “soon” is a relative word, but I think that Jesus
meant that the end would not come in their life time.
teachers began to appear very early in church history and have been around
ever since. Yet in this
context, Jesus is speaking of false teachers that will come in the days of
the disciples, not in our day, even though there are false teachers today
goes on to say that “nations will rise against nation, and kingdom
against kingdom”. Then He
goes on to say that there will “be great earthquakes, famines and
pestilences in various
places”. This verse is often
misquoted. Many say that there
will be more earthquakes and other such things the closer we get to the
end. Jesus does not say that.
He merely says that there will be earthquakes, famines and
pestilences in a variety of places, meaning, all over the place. He
doesn’t say there will be more of them.
these things Jesus says that “fearful events and great signs from
Heaven” will take place. What
fearful things, and what signs He is talking about, we can only speculate.
But they will cause men to be very afraid.
earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful events and signs from Heaven
will not merely take place in the days of the disciples.
When Jesus said these words He is speaking of the time of the whole
age, right up until the end. The
reason why I say this is because of the next verse, verse 12.
In verse 12 Jesus said, “but before all this, they will lay hands
on you…” Before
these major events happened, the disciples would be arrested, (have hands
laid on them) for their faith.
far we have the following sequence – false Christs come in the life time
of disciples – wars in their
life time - great earthquakes,
famines, pestilences, fearful events, and signs from Heaven in their life
time and beyond – the arrest of the disciples for their faith.
told the disciples that “they will lay hands on you …
will persecute you … they will deliver you to synagogues and prison …
you will be delivered to kings and governors”.
Who are “they”? They
are the Jewish leaders. The
Jewish leaders (the Sanhedrin) will try to persuade the disciples to stop
preaching in the name of Jesus. When this won’t work, they deliver them
to “kings and governors”, meaning Gentile kings and governors, as we
also see in the book of Acts. The
Sanhedrin could not have these men tried and hung.
Only the Romans had such authority.
these things will happen to the disciples for “the sake of Jesus”.
Their association with Jesus will cause these things to happen to
them. Verse 13 says that
“this will result in you being a witness to them”.
Who is “them”. “Them”
are the Jewish leaders, and the Gentile kings and governors.
result of their being arrested is that their arrests will “be a
witness” to those who arrest them. Jesus,
in Acts 1:8 told His disciples that they’d receive power to be
witnesses. Our English word
“martyr” comes from the
Greek word that is translated as “witness”.
Literally speaking, Jesus is telling His followers that their
arrest and subsequent death will be a witness, a testimony of Jesus to the
world. You would think that
preaching of the gospel would be a good way to witness to the world, but
Jesus told these men that their arrest and death would be the real
witness. And so it has been
the case over the centuries. Persecution
of the church has done much to spread the gospel of Jesus around the
then told His disciples not to worry about these things.
Of course as soon as Jesus mentioned this to His followers, the
tendency would be to worry. He
told them that when the time comes, He (Holy Spirit) would help them to
defend themselves. You don’t
have to rehearse what you will say when they bring you before the courts
of the land.
told His disciples that “their adversaries would not be able to resist
or contradict” them. They
would have all the wisdom of God when standing before their
enemies. Yet even with
this wisdom, Jesus does not promise they won’t go through hard times.
We know well that most of these disciples were killed for their
faith, even with all of the wisdom of God on their side.
16 says this very clearly. Jesus
came right out and said that “some of them will be put to death”.
The sad part is that those who oppose them are their brothers,
parents and friends. This must
have been a hard thing for the disciples to understand.
family and friends betraying us because of our faith, we need to
understand that we stand on the side of truth, and not on the side of
relationships, as important as they are.
When a brother, or a parent opposes you because of your faith, it
is a real test, especially if the opposition leads to your death.
But this is what being a Christian is all about.
It is about putting Jesus first in all things and not caving into
the pressures that may come your way, even from your family.
verse 17 Jesus said that “all men would hate” the disciples because of
their association with Him This
is a warning to the followers of Jesus to expect hardship.
Jesus also told them that “not a hair of their head would
perish”. This is an
interesting statement in light of the fact that some of these disciples
would be put to death for their faith.
Yet in the killing process, their hair would stay in tact.
is interesting to note that even with Jesus helping the disciples with
their defense, such good defense did not save them from death.
The power of the Holy Spirit would be present as these men spoke.
The words would be a testimony.
They would pierce the heart’s of their accusers, and as the
disciples would die, the Holy Spirit would convict those who killed them.
Thus in this way, the gospel message would be preached in a most
powerful way. The strength of
the disciples in the last moments of their lives, along with the spoken
gospel would be a great testimony.
not loosing one hair at the point of death.
I think that Jesus meant these words to be a word of comfort.
Even though they’d be killed, Jesus would be with them by His
Spirit looking after them. Jesus
can look after us in great detail, even caring for one individual hair of
your head. Jesus cares for us when we are on our death bed, especially if
our death is a result of persecution.
are a few things I need to point out before I go further.
Concerning the wars, the earthquakes, the pestilences, and the
signs in the heavens, Luke says that before these things take place the
disciples will be persecuted. If
you read Matthew's account in Matthew 24, he seems to say these things
will take place and then the
disciples will be persecuted and the end will come.
There seems to be an apparent difference in the time line between
these two accounts. I believe
both aspects of end time thinking is correct.
The first generation Christians did go through the persecution that
Jesus predicted. I also see
Matthews point coming true as well concerning Christians being persecuted
at the end of this age.
is interesting to note that Matthew says there will be rumors of wars.
The Greek word translated as "rumors" can also be
translated as "reports", which is a better word for our day.
We hear and see of reports of war on TV, radio and on the internet.
These reports aren't rumors, as in things we can't trust.
We see them with our very eyes.
should also note that Matthews says "such things" must happen.
The words "such things" refers to the "reports
of war". He adds a
couple more things to his list, and they are, famines and earthquakes.
Note that Luke adds a couple more things to the list.
They are revolutions, pestilences, and signs in the heavens.
I think we could add even more to this list.
like to point out that the Greek word translated as
"revolutions" can easily be translated as civil unrest and
instability, or, confusion. If
you look at the nations surrounding
verse 20 Jesus begins to predict once again the destruction of
is interesting to note that history tells us that the Jews did just the
opposite to what Jesus said. When
the Roman armies began to surround
tradition also tells us that Christians did follow Jesus’ words and left
the city. It is also
understood from historical writings (Eusebius 3, 5) that certain men (or
man) had a revelation from God at the time to depart from the city, which
22 says that this event “is a time of punishment” and is completely
fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.
God was punishing
a secondary note, I would suggest that if God judged
verse 23 Jesus said, “how dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant
women and nursing mothers”.
Jesus’ heart goes out to the women who will need to flee.
How hard this will be on them if they are pregnant and if they are
carrying babies in their arms.
goes on to say that “there will be great anguish”.
It is a fact of history that the sacking of
continued by saying that this great destruction is God’s “wrath
against this people”. For
those who believe that God is a loving God and would not harm a flee, this
Scripture is definite proof that this is not the case.
God is just and He will judge, and His judgement can be very severe
as demonstrated in this time of terror.
24 says, “they will fall by the sward and be taken as prisoners to all
the nations”. Josephus, a
Jewish historian who lived in the first century states that there were
1,100,000 Jews killed during this attack and 97,000 Jews taken as
attack ironically took place at Passover when Jews would be coming into
the city to participate in Passover. There
could have been upward to 3,000,000 Jews in
next statement Jesus made is very interesting and has been commented on by
many over the years. He said,
of all, the verb “trampled” in the Greek tense means, “continually
trampled”. It is not just
trampled on once, but over the centuries would be trampled on again and
again by the Gentiles. This
would take place “until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled”.
Note the word “times”, as in more than one time.
This is an accurate prophetic statement.
I have just said is but one way of thinking concerning the phrase “times
of the Gentiles”. Others
suggest that this phrase is speaking about the times of the Gentiles as in
when the Gentiles were given the gospel.
The Jews rejected the gospel. It
was given to the Gentiles. Paul
was the great apostle to the Gentiles.
God’s people became more Gentile orientated
than Jew orientated, that is to say, the church looks more Gentile
like than Jewish. But this
period of time would someday come to an end and the Jews would come back
into the fold. Paul seems to
suggest this in his discourse on the subject in Romans 9 through 11.
there are two main ways of looking at this statement, one physical, and
one spiritual. Some, like
Derek Prince have actually combined the two together.
He has said that when something important takes place in Jewish
history, something important takes place in the church – that the two
run side by side. So both
aspects of thinking will take place at the same time.
on how you view these few words, “time of the Gentiles” will determine
much of your eschatology (study of end times).
25 begins with events that happen at the end of this age, when the ”
times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. However you interpret those words
it makes little difference. When these times are up “there will be signs
in the sun moon and stars”. Matthew
speaks of the sun and moon darkening. How and why this happens we don’t
know. Could it be a natural
phenomena or could it be the result of some man made disaster like an
atomic bomb shading the light of the sun.
It is hard to say. We
will know when it happens.
goes on to say that “nations will be in perplexity at the roaring and
tossing of the sea”. For one
reason or another, nature will be going through a major upheaval.
Men and nations will not know how to handle the situation.
These words suggest natural disaster that increase in frequency at
said that men will “faint with terror” because of all this upheaval,
both in the skies and on earth. Then the end is now almost at hand when
these things take place.
these things happen, when the whole universe is in upheaval, possibly
re-assembling itself to the way it was before the fall of man, the whole
world will see the return of Christ. Some
have suggested that because of modern technology the whole round world
will see His return on TV. I
don’t think so. Jesus said
He will return in the clouds, and like lightening flashing from one end of
the sky to the other. He will
encircle the whole earth many times in a matter of moments.
There will be no TV satellite signal for a TV to receive.
My guess is that the universal upheaval will have knocked out all
electricity, all radio and satellite transmissions.
Besides, Jesus told the disciples to “straighten up and lift
their heads”, to look up in the sky, “for their redemption is near”.
There is no hint of seeing these things on TV.
verse 29 and 30 Jesus told a little parable.
He said that when you see a fig tree (usually symbolic of
said that “when you see these thing happen, you know the
32 is another one of those heavily debated verses.
If you understand the “times of the Gentiles” to be the
physical occupation of Jerusalem by Gentile nations, then you are likely
to interpret this verse by saying that when the times of Gentile rule are
up in Jerusalem, and when the Jews regain their city, then that generation
of people will not pass away until Jesus returns as ruler of an earthly
Kingdom. Thus many view the 1967 war where
At this point I'd like to
insert an article I wrote to further explain my position concerning verse
32 and the term "this generation".
Generation That Ends This Age
I was 15 years old when
Happy Together by the Turtles was a hit song in what pop culture called
the "Summer Of Love". One
of my favourite songs in the summer of 1967 was "Windy" by the
Association. I liked the
"59th Street Bridge Song", otherwise known as
"Feeling Groovy". It
was recorded by Harpers Bizarre, but it sure sounded like Simon and
Garfunkel who originally wrote and recorded the song.
Every July our family
attended the Free Methodist Camp just north of
The reason for all the
end time talk was because of the Six Day War in June of 1967 and how it
might relate to Matthew 24. Jesus
told His disciples that when the branches of the fig tree get tender,
summer is near. He then said
that in like fashion when you see the things He predicted being fulfilled;
know that the end is near. "This
generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have
happened". (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32)
There has been much
controversy and confusion over the words "this generation" in
Matthew 24:34. Some say the
word "this" in "this generation" refers specifically
to an Israeli generation. Others
say it refers to all ethnic generations.
Many understand "this generation" to be a generation
lasting a certain length of time, anywhere from 20 to 120 years.
Then there's the debate over when "this generation"
begins. If you can figure out
when this generation begins and how long it lasts, you'd have a good idea
when the end will come.
Most Prophetic Futurists
understand the fig tree in this passage to be
After getting serious
about Jesus in 1970 my heart's desire was to know the Bible.
That's why I ended up at Elim Bible Institute, in
My dad often talked to me
The Greek word
"genea" is translated as "generation" in Matthew
24:34. "Genea" means
"to become", as in "to become a human", or, "to
become a race of people". For
example, Abraham became a human being and his descendents became a race of
people known as Israelis. Because
"genea" can legitimately be translated a "race of
people" many credible Bible translators translate Matthew 24:34 this
way. "This race of people
will not pass away until all these things have happened".
Note that the NIV Bible has a footnote for Matthew 24:34 that
states this translation to be an acceptable alternate rendering.
Matthew 24:34 means
something quite different when you think in terms of a generation as a
race of people instead of a generation lasting a certain number of years.
No longer do you have to smash your head against the wall to figure
out how long a Biblical generation lasts.
With this in mind, I
refer you to Amos 9:14 – 15. "I
will bring back my exiled people
The important part of
Amos' prophecy for my present purpose is the prediction that once Israelis
return to their land, they would never be uprooted from it again.
Despite present pressures on
Back in the Summer Of
Love my dad's generation thought they might be the last generation because
they understood "this generation" to be a 20 to 40 year period
of time. Well, most of that
generation has since departed. If
I had have known back then what I think I know now, maybe I could have
suggested another way to think, but why would they have listened to a kid
blasting out "Judy In The Sky With Diamonds" by the Beatles on
his 6 transistor radio.
I now return to my
commentary on Luke 21.
if you interpreted the “times of the Gentiles’ as being the time when
the gospel was given to the Gentiles then you’d think differently about
this verse. When the last Gentile becomes a Christian and when the Jews
return to their God in Jesus’ name, then that generation will not pass
until the end comes.
Jesus added, since He was speaking about things passing away, that heaven
and earth would pass away, but His words would never pass away.
What He had told His followers over the last three years would
never pass away. They were
truth for eternity and everyone should pay serious attention to His words.
did Jesus mean when He said that heaven and earth would pass away?
Did He mean complete annihilation, leaving nothing at all?
No. There are
sufficient Scriptures that tell us that there will be a new heaven and a
new earth. The universe and
all there is in it will return to its pre-fall condition.
Nothing will be out of whack as it presently is.
What this will look like is beyond our ability to really
know since we are so depraved and fallen.
But the change will be so different, so drastic, so new, because
the heaven and earth will pass away and a new one take its place.
verse 34 on is Jesus’ admonishes His disciples.
This is the last section of this chapter as I mentioned earlier.
said, “be careful or your heart’s will be weighed down with
basically means a life of wastefulness, often associated with excess of
drinking. Jesus does continue
by using the word “drunkenness”. You’d
wonder why Jesus would have to say such things to His disciples.
You’d think that they’d come far enough not to be involved in
such a lifestyle. But Jesus
most likely understood the fallen nature of man, and that man’s tendency
is constantly towards decline unless one is actively involved in allowing
Jesus to help him out of His depravity.
I’m also sure that Jesus understood that people like you and I
would be reading these words some day.
also mentioned the “anxieties of life” of which there are a number.
“Anxieties of life” are one thing that really keeps us from growing as
a Christian. We tend to let
these anxieties dictate our life and our faith, instead of our faith
dictating our anxieties.
reason why Jesus spoke these words to His disciples was so the day of His
return would not spring on them “like a trap”.
If we are ready and watching, the day of Jesus' return may well be
surprising, but it will not be as a trap that devastates us.
We mentioned before that it is Jesus was telling His disciples that
His return would not be in their life time.
These particular words then, although spoken to the disciples were
meant for those in a future generation.
35 is interesting. Jesus told
the disciples first of all to watch and pray.
There is nothing wrong
with anticipating the return of the Lord.
Some suggest that people who watch are no earthly good because they
have their hearts and minds constantly on Christ’s return.
The truth of the matter is that one can watch for His return and
still do the work of the Lord that is needed at the same time.
We should not neglect one at the expense of the other.
specifically said what we should pray for.
He told us to pray that we can “escape” all the things that are
happening on the earth prior to His return.
Those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture point to this verse
as one of their proof text. They
say that Jesus taught a pre-trib rapture, or else He would not have told
us to pray that we could escape. I
can understand how these people could interpret that verse to mean what
they believe, yet on the other hand, Jesus is not clear on just what He
means by “escape”. It
could possibly mean “escape from harm”, not “escape from the
reason why I say that Jesus might have meant “escape the harm caused by
the things happening on earth” is because of the last phrase of this
verse. It says, “that you
may be able to stand before the Son of Man”.
One possible interpretation of this is that we must go through
trials, and be tested, in order to be able to stand before the Son of Man.
If we fail, we will not be able to stand.
put this another way is to say that we will not be overtaken by these
terrible things that are happening on the earth, but that we could escape
the tendency to drown ourselves in alcohol, drugs and other things the
world uses to escape from these problems.
We have Jesus to give us the strength to escape the negative
responses that the world would use to try to calm their spirits.
who cave in, give themselves to drunkenness will be snared and trapped,
and will not be able to stand on that day.
They will be caught in a trap as an animal is caught in a trap that
has been set by a trapper.
last verse of this chapter tells us that “each day” Jesus spent
teaching in the
chapter closes with the point that all the people came to the
gospels don’t give us any further teaching that Jesus gave.
The teaching on His return appears to be the last thing that Jesus
taught, although this is speculative since this argument is based on
silence. Yet if this is the
case, it only makes sense that the last public thing that Jesus taught was
concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the fate of the disciples, the
last days, and His return.