“By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (v. 19)

Luke 21:5-19 Sunday 13 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 98


Jesus appears to have spent a lot of his time teaching in thetemple since his triumphal entry to Jerusalem (Luke19:28-40) and he would have been familiar with its history andimportance. Following the return of the Jewish exiles (Ezra1:1-4) the temple was rebuilt and stood for 500 years beforebeing significantly extended by King Herod. All those who visitedit must have been struck by its size and splendour. Not only was itcentral to their Jewish faith, the sheer scale of the buildingwould have given a sense of permanence and a reasonable belief thatit would last for centuries to come.

The words of Jesus about the utter destruction of the templemust therefore have been beyond belief to those who heard him.People were admiring the temple's decoration, not unlike thetourists of today stood outside Westminster Abbey or another greatcathedral. They can't have been expecting to be told by a visitingGalilean rabbi that what they were so impressed by was soon to betorn down. Such a suggestion must have seemed to be ridiculouslyfar-fetched.

However those who listened to this story in Luke's Gospel wouldhave had no such surprise. They would have had fresh memories ofthe horror of the Jewish-Roman war which began in AD66 and led tothe siege of Jerusalem and ultimately the destruction of the templefour years later. Many of those hearing this account may have haddirect experience of the hardships resulting from the war and alsosuffered from the persecution that had then begun of women and menwho declared that they were followers of Jesus Christ.

Today, on Remembrance Sunday, it is worth reflecting on the factthat many of the things that give us security through theirsolidity and apparent indestructibility can be rapidly taken awayin the midst of war. This is the very real experience for millionsof people around the world today, as it was for those who faced thehorrors of wars in years past. But Jesus told his listeners andthose who were prepared to follow him not to be afraid when theyhear of wars and insurrections (verse 9), for whilst they may facepersecution, betrayal and even death, they will in the end endure(verse 19).

To Ponder

  • Passages such as the one today, describing events leading up tothe end of times, can often be misused and misunderstood. Whatwould you say to those first-century Christians who genuinelythought 'the end of the world was nigh'?
  • What things provide you with a sense of security? And how muchdoes your faith play a part in this?
  • Pray for people around the world living in places where war andpersecution is a daily reality, that they may know the peace ofGod's presence.
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