Review of Luke 21
by Pastor Kolawole Ola Joseph
1. THE WIDOW’S MITE
It was to Winston Churchill that the following quote is attributed: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” That is a principle Jesus taught again and again — and He superlatively modeled this by giving His own life. Paul taught the same, for example, in 2 Corinthians 8:1–15. (Thanks to Pastor Dammy’s series on “The Sermon on the Amount,” I believe we have this point covered.)
The main point I will like to emphasize here is that when it comes to our giving, God sees more than the portion; He also sees the proportion. While all that men can see is what we give, God does see what is left after we give, and it is with this knowledge that He measures the gift and the condition of our hearts. This is not to make us legalistic givers but to put giving in the right context as God’s children . . . and to see to it that the next conference budget of only N500k is realized in record time.
2. THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
Don’t let the phrase ‘Olivet Discourse’ bamboozle you. It simply refers to this prophetic sermon that Jesus gave from the Mount of Olives from where the beautiful Jewish Temple was in full and majestic view. So Peter, James, and John asked some specific questions:
(1) When would the temple be destroyed?
(2) What would be the sign of His coming?
(3) What would be the sign of the end of the age? (Also in Mark 13:3-4; Matt. 24:3.)
So what helpful tips will I like to point us to?
FIRST TIP: The disciples thought that these three events would occur at the same time, but, as Jesus explained, that wasn’t going to be the case. Actually, the temple would be destroyed first (and it was about 40 years later in AD 70), and then there would be a long period of time before Jesus would return and establish His kingdom on earth (as previously alluded to in Luke 19:11-27). In fact, Jesus had already announced that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in chapter 19:41-44, but here, He specifically mentioned that the temple would be destroyed — and it was.
SECOND TIP: Since this sermon is recorded in greater detail in Matthew 24-25 and Mark 13, it makes sense to compare the three passages to get a better grip of what’s going on here. This is important because the writers of these three gospel accounts (popularly referred to as the Synoptic Gospels) have different audiences in mind, and therefore emphasized different details. Since Luke wrote with the Gentile reader in mind (Most Excellent Theophilus by name), he omitted some of the strong Jewish elements of the sermon while retaining the essential truths that we must consider and apply.
THIRD TIP: It is always helpful to bear in mind that this sermon was given to Jews by a Jew about the future of the Jewish nation. Surely, there are parts of this that apply to us as believers today, but the crux of this discourse is on Jerusalem, the Jews, and the Temple. Jesus was not discussing His coming for the church here (for that, we have some deep Pauline texts to chew on, e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). However, in this sermon from a Jew to Jews about the Jewish nation, the emphasis on signs makes sense because “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). We, as part of the church, should not be looking to or for signs as much as we should be looking to and for our blessed Saviour (Philippians 3:20-21).
FOURTH TIP: It is also good to situate these signs correctly in the eschatological order events — the timeline of the end time. What Jesus is describing for the most part of this discourse has to do with the period we refer to as “The Tribulation Period” — a period which many Bible students believe will begin after the Lord has come in the air to take His church with Him to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). Those who are left behind will go through a period of tribulations which Matthew, Mark and Luke describe in detail — and John in the Book of Revelations. It will climax with the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, at which time He will defeat His enemies and establish His kingdom (Revelations 19:1-20:6).
FIFTH TIP: This is actually linked to my first tip. You may notice that verses 20-24 of this chapter is found only in Luke’s account — it’s not in Matthew or Mark, and actually refers to a different period of tribulation — not in a distant time, but to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the Roman army in AD 70, just about 40 years from when Jesus said these words. Of course, this is a well-documented event and it is, no doubt, a “dress rehearsal” for what will happen in the tribulation to come. A popular Jewish historian by the name of Josephus claimed that nearly a million people were killed by the Romans, and over 100,000 taken captive, in that dreadful period in AD 70 when Titus captured the city.
BONUS TIP: Whenever you read about the end times as a believer — a Gentile believer, I may add — we need to take to heart three admonitions all of which Jesus also mentions in this chapter. First, “Don’t be deceived!” — verse 8 says in the TLB, “Don’t let anyone mislead you…” Second, “Don’t be afraid!” — verse 9 says in the TPT, “…Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for these things are bound to happen…” And the last but not the least, “Don’t worry!” I love how TPT puts it in verse 18, “But don’t worry. My grace will never desert you or depart from your life.”
Let that be your last word on the matter. Come what may, you are held firmly in the grip of God’s grace. You will be kept in His love!