Luke, the 21st Chapter, verses 5 - 18. We will be giving consideration to those verses and a few more following in the same chapter. This all takes place during the last week of Jesus earthly life.
They are in Jerusalem and He is walking with followers and His Disciples. Verse 5 tells us that they were passing the Temple at the time Jesus begins to speak to them about upcoming occurrences. He address occurrences that will be coming upon the earth not many years after that day, and also even to the days in which we are living and beyond. The messages of the text are for us as well as it was for them.
We must understand the magnitude of what Jesus says to those present that day as they were admiring the Temple and its beautiful stones. The Temple was much more important to the Jews than is our Church of today important to us, and that is saying a lot.
Their Temple was the House in which God lived among them. It was not superstition on their part, it was God Who told them that He would live in the Temple among them.
Today God lives with us in "houses not made with hands," known to us as our body. Things changed in that respect after Jesus died and returned to Heaven. Later, after His Resurrection, He told His disciples that it was a better thing for them that He was going to ascend to the Father because that way the Spirit of God could come to the earth and live inside their body, making them a Temple of God.
That is the way it is today for you and for me, when we have given our life to Jesus and received Him as our Savior He, as the Holy Spirit of God, comes and lives inside our bodies. Paul says to us, "What, don't you know that you are the Temple of the living God?
In the Roman dominated culture of their day their religious practices were about all they had that was strictly Jewish. The Temple was a place of their religious and legal practices according to their Law. The Temple was the place of their communal life as a Nation.
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Temple to these Jews who were with Jesus that day as we join them to hear from Jesus what He has to say to those whom He loves on this, the last week of His physical presence among them.
Jesus is aware as He listens that they are placing their glory and confidence, as a people, in something that will not continue forever. So He advises them of the upcoming destruction of the Temple, which did happen some 70 years later. "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," He said to them.
Of course they wanted to know when such a thing would happen. We would want to know the answer to that sort of statement also, and we may certainly ask such a question as did they. There are things in our own lives by which we identify our self and our worth. It does not have to be elaborate nor of great value in the market place, but we are fixated on some things that are not always going to be standing, and if they should last forever we will not be here forever to own them.
I recall that as a young woman in my thirties, we had built a house. We built it on cash and did the work ourselves over a period of years. My husband was a builder so it was well constructed, and I might add never completely finished. One day as I was studying the Scriptures and read the parable of the Seed and the Sower, I realized that my life was consumed with serving the things we owned, and that I was not attending to my relationship with Jesus as I needed to be; I did not worship my things, I thought, but I did serve them with all of my energy and time. I don't live there today, although the house is still standing, and I am still living, it now belongs to someone else.
Jesus' message to us is to be discerning in evaluating the true worth of those things that consume our time and absorb our affections. He is saying to us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds and bodies and souls: our identity and confidence are to be placed on Him first and foremost,then He will give us physical comforts, and they will not be distractions to us, but rather things that we enjoy knowing full well that they shall not always be ours, but He will always belong to us and we to Him. God lasts forever, and so do we, and He is to be first in our lives.
The next exhortation that Jesus offers to those disciples was to not let themselves be deceived: verses 7 and 8. As I read this I could not decide exactly how Jesus meant to be stating this prediction or prophecy. As I considered it I realized that this is a statement that is true whether answered this way or that way. Jesus says there will be those who come saying that, "I am He;" do not follow them.
The two ways this is true I will present to you and you can see that we have both types of false purveyors among us. One is those who come claiming to be Jesus and of course they are not. Still to come is one who will force all the people he can to worship him for he will claim to be God.
The second way this is true is to consider those who are called "Wolves in Sheep's clothing" that stand among us, and even in our pulpits, who call themselves Christian and say they are of Christ, yet they pervert the message of the Gospel and call things good that God calls abominable. They deny the presence of sin in us and ridicule the words of Jesus regarding a literal Hell, as well as many other doctrines taught even by Jesus Himself.
There are so many ways we can be deceived and we will not be wise to discern those ways unless we read our Bibles regularly. It is from the Book that we get wisdom and understanding and knowledge. Remember this: remember this if you don't remember another thing I say today. The devil has no new tricks to work on mankind, he just keeps having new people to work them on.
If we read the Scriptures we gain wisdom so that we are not easily deceived, and perhaps not at all deceived. The Holy Spirit uses the Word we store in our heart and brain computers to alert us when we are being played by the devil.
Verses 9 through 18 are filled with information from Jesus about troubled times; those things did happen to those people, and they continue to happen to people today. He speaks of national troubles and disasters and political and social unrest. He warns of disloyalties of family and friends to those who follow Jesus. He ends up with some surprising good news, saying that there is no way to defeat those who are following Him. We cannot be annihilated, we continue forever.
There is an old hymn that says, "This world is not my home, I am just passing through." There is a song of our recent past by Petra that says, "Some may call me foolish, some may call me odd, but I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man than a fool in the eyes of God." "Fool's gold is waiting in a crown, fool's gold in a mansion coming down." ("Fools Gold")
Verse 27 informs us that when Jesus returns everyone will see Him coming in a cloud, so all we need to know is that He is coming; and then He gives us another exhortation in verse 34:
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life so that that day catches you unexpectedly, like a trap. It is coming and it will come upon all who live on the earth; so be alert at all times praying that you may have the strength to escape these things and to stand before the Son of Man."
Dissipation is an interesting word and I will quickly give you the meaning of the word from Merriam Webster's Dictionary.
1. It means: to slow down and sort of disappear or become less;
2. It also means the act of using all or a lot of money, time;
and energy in a foolish way;
3. and it means, behavior that shows there is only interest
in pleasure, money, fame or whatever including amusement.
So to recap our lesson for today we conclude, Jesus has spoken to us to say to us:
1. Be discerning, be certain that what you are spending your life on that which has true and lasting value.
2. Be informed and alert so that you are not deceived and led astray, and you cannot do this without being a reader or hearer of God's Word, the Bible. Cram it into yourself.
3. Don't be terrified or afraid, I've got you covered and you are totally safe with Me.