Luke Chapter Twenty-One


v.11And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.”


            Jesus is still in the temple.  Apparently he has stopped teaching for the moment, is not surrounded by a multitude.  As he observes the activities around him he sees those who have come for the Passover making their contributions to the support of the priests and temple as Mosaic Law required.


v.2  2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.”


            A certain poor widow, a specific person, came along with all of the rich men and made her offering of two mites.  A mite was the smallest coin used in the Jewish money system at that time and was a bronze coin worth about ½ cent.


v.3-43And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”


            Jesus just doesn’t contrast this poor woman’s offering with one of the gifts of the rich men but he includes them all.  “THIS POOR WIDOW HATH CAST IN MORE THAN THEY ALL.”  How can that be, she only gave about ½ cent?  These rich men were like we have a tendency to be sometimes.  They gave out of their abundance, probably didn’t hardly miss their gift in their daily living and comparatively speaking in fact gave only a little of their riches.  The widow, however, made a real sacrifice, she gave her entire living, all she had; and trusted that God would provide for her need.  We need to think about this.  In our giving are we closer to the rich man or to the poor widow?


v.5-65And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, 6As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”


            As they left the temple, probably for the day, some of Jesus disciples comment on the beautiful architecture, dressed stone and gifts of gold and silver that were used to decorate the building.  While his disciples admired the building he reminds them of his earlier teaching (Luke 19:44) and the prophecy concerning this temple and this city.


Jeremiah 26:1818Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.


Jeremiah here is basically quoting Micah 3:12, and indeed the Jewish historian Josephus records that after the destruction of the city and the temple by the Roman general Titus, that another officer in Titus’ army, Terentius Rufus orders that furrows be plowed through the site with a plowshare.  Josephus also records that there were three towers left standing and part of the western wall.  Of the rest of the city and the temple there was nothing left; even though history also tells us that some of the stones were 20 to 40 feet long and weighed over 100 tons and others were 6 feet thick and 24 feet long. 


v.77And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?


            Jesus’ disciples ask two questions.  First, when will this take place, after all they are expecting him to re-establish the kingdom of David and rule from the city of Jerusalem?  Secondly, what sign will be given that these things are about to happen?  We studied these questions in Matthew and Mark as being asked in combination with a question concerning the end of the world and final judgment.  Luke here simply includes only the question concerning the destruction of Jerusalem but Jesus speaks to them about both in this chapter, but mostly about the destruction of Jerusalem and the remnant of the Jewish nation.  Then he gives them some advice that we would do well to follow today.


v.88And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.”


            Take heed that you not be deceived because there will be many come that claim to be me, or to teach in my name.  Paul tells the Ephesians not to be deceived by “vain words”


Ephesians 5:66Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”


In the days of the apostles this was a common occurrence.  Josephus gives us some fairly detailed information regarding magicians, seducers and imposters who drew people after them, claiming to either be the Messiah or someone who represented the Messiah.  In Acts 5:36 we read of one called Theudas and another called Judas of Galilee both who perished with those who they influenced to follow them.  Even later in Acts 21:38 when the Jews made an uproar about Paul’s preaching the Roman captain thought that he was that Eqyptian that made an uproar and lead four thousand men into the wilderness that were murderers.  So to trouble the first century church we not only have false teachers but outright imposters who led insurrections in the name of Christ.


v.99But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”


            Jesus further warns that we will endure “wars and commotions (or tumults)” but we should not be deceived by these things because first they must come to pass and second they are not an indication that the end of time is near.  In fact in the American Standard Version, “THE END is NOT BY AND BY” is translated “BUT THE END IS NOT IMMEDIATELY”.  Every generation of man had experienced such and every generation will until God tires of this world’s wickedness and brings it to an end.


v.10-1110Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”


            These two verses are open to a double interpretation.  They can apply to both the destruction of Jerusalem and to the end of time.  Jesus spoke in verse 9 about things they would hear and in verse 10 and 11 about things that would happen and did before the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.  Nation shall rise against nation, race against race and kingdom against kingdom, a common occurrence in the history of the world.  Famines and pestilences would occur and we read of the great famine at Jerusalem prophesied by Agabus in Acts 11:28.  Just five years before the destruction of Jerusalem, a plague or pestilence in Rome killed 30,000 people.  These things continue but are nothing more than an indication that life and the existence of the world goes on through time.  But then Jesus gets more specific to what would happen to his apostles.


v.1212But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.”


            But even before the things predicted in verses 10 and 11 occur they will suffer personal persecution.  In fact, this persecution would start in only in a matter of weeks or days:


Acts 4:33And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.”


Acts 5:17-18  17Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”


v.1313And it shall turn to you for a testimony.”


            “It shall turn to you for a testimony”, what can Jesus mean by this comment?  It will work to your advantage.  Many times the harm that their enemies would do to them would be overruled, they would be delivered and all these things would work to their good, giving them opportunity to teach and bringing the focus of those people around about them to them and their teaching.  In fact Paul told the Philippian brethren not to be afraid of their adversaries:


Philippians 1:2828And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”


v.14-1514Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”


            In the face of all this persecution, they should stand without fear.  They should settle in their minds that they won’t even have to meditate before they answer their accusers.  Jesus says that he will give them a mouth and wisdom that cannot be resisted.  This is a repeat of something that he had taught them very early in their training:


Luke 12:11-1211And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”


We have and example of what Jesus is talking about with Stephen.  He was stoned to death because:


“…they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” Acts 6:10


v.1616And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.”


            Though we do not have any direct record of betrayal of any of the apostles by parents or kinfolk we can be assured that followers of Christ had these kinds of troubles even as some do today.  Several did lose their lives, the first being Stephen:


Acts 7:59-6059And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”


v.17-1817And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. 18But there shall not an hair of your head perish.”


            The disciples or followers of Jesus were hated by the world.  Jesus had taught them this earlier in his ministry:


John 15:1818If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”


And Jesus prayed about these problems that his disciples would encounter in his prayer for the unity and preservation of his disciples:


John 17:1414I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”


But there will not a hair of your head perish.  We do not understand Jesus’ meaning with these words because there were those who were killed because of their dedication to Christ.  Some apply it to the destruction of Jerusalem because it is commonly reported that no Christians perished because they heeded the warnings and fled the city before it came under siege.  Some apply it to the next verse; as is probably more appropriate:


v.19  19In your patience possess ye your souls.”


            In your patience, your perseverance, even if death should come, your souls will be saved.  By their endurance of all the things that were to come they would preserve their souls for heaven delight.


v.20  20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”


            It is a matter of history that the Romans under Cestius Gallus besieged Jerusalem about AD 66, withdrew for a time and then Vespasian came back about AD 68 and continued the siege until it’s complete destruction in AD 70.  Jesus’ disciples would know that when the city was surrounded by Roman armies that it’s destruction was imminent.


v.21-2221Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”


            Jesus tells us that all this is to be so that prophecies could be fulfilled.  One of the more prominent of these is:


Daniel 9:26-2726And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”


            The city and the sanctuary were destroyed, the sacrifices and the ablations to God from that place ended, never to be restored, even to this day.  Even those who are orthodox Jews today continue only the synagogue worship, the kind of worship that was given to God in the temple ceased with its destruction.  Then Jesus continues with his warning of the horror that would be visited upon them.


v.23-2423But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”


            According to Josephus about 1.1 million people perished when Jerusalem was destroyed.  The city was full of people attending the Passover when the last siege by Titus began.  Jesus also says that the city will be “TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES” and this has been the case.  H. Leo Boles in his commentary states that they tried to reoccupy it but in AD 135 another insurrection was put down and all were driven out again.  Judea was occupied by Romans, Saracens, Franks, Mamelukes and Turks.  A temple of Jupiter was erected on the site of the temple.  Then in AD 635 it was replaced by the mosque of Omar, and used for Islamic worship.  We simply don’t know how long the time would be that Jesus calls “UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED”. 

Of all of Jesus teaching these prophecies are the most difficult to understand, if anyone really does understand them, because now he seems to shift to talking about the end of time and then later shifts back to the destruction of Jerusalem.


v.25-2625And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”


            How much of these words are figurative and how much are literal has been argued for generations by men a lot more knowledgeable than I.  Great catastrophes, calamities, wars and natural disasters have been part of this world for 6 thousand or so years.  Some were present at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus and we can be assured that there will be things of this nature when Jesus comes again and appears in all his glory.


II Peter 3:11-1211Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?


v.27-2827And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”


            It is clear in these two verses that Jesus is speaking of his second coming; and is referred to in various ways and places in the New Testament beginning with:


Acts 1:9-119And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”


            At this time, if we are among those who are present on this earth, as his disciples we should expect to “LOOK UP”, “LIFT” our “HEADS” be encouraged and greet him as a friend and deliverer for we will indeed be among the redeemed.  If we are such as we should be; we will be as those Paul describes:


Romans 8:2323And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”


for we will have been patiently waiting and watching for his coming.


v.29-3029And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.”


            Then Jesus speaks to them in a parable, a parable that we understand today as they would in that day.  When you see the signs in the trees and plants around you, you know that summer is near at hand.


v.3131So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.


            Both the disciples to whom he was speaking at this time and we know the signs of the seasons as they appear in the earth.  So his disciples would know in the same way by the signs when the kingdom would come.  Then he says something that helps us understand that much of his prophecy pertains to the destruction of Jerusalem rather than his second coming.


v.32-3332Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”


            This generation, those people standing within the range of his voice at that time would not completely pass away until these things be fulfilled.  Verifying again that much of his teaching in these verses is directly related to the coming of the kingdom in not too many days and the destruction of Jerusalem.  Then he reassures them and us that even when heaven and earth pass away his words will not pass away.  They will hold true through the end of time.  Then he gives them warning that we all should heed today as well.


v.34-35  34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”


            Jesus now warns his disciples and us that we must be found to be faithful.  It would be so easy to give in to the attractions and pleasures of this world, wouldn’t it?  Jesus here uses the terms, surfeiting and drunkenness which go hand in hand to numb the minds and bodies of men to the dangers of their surroundings.  He also uses the term “CARES OF THIS LIFE”, all of those other things that can become a snare to distract us from the focus of our lives should have, our destiny in life eternal.  We would do well to heed to words of Paul and Peter as they write to us:


I Thessalonians 5:66Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”


I Peter 4:7But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”


I Thessalonians 5:22For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”


II Peter 3:1010But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.


v.3636Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”


            The word translated watch means “to hunt” in the original language.  A much stronger meaning than we usually put on the word watch in English.  We must hunt, we must actively seek the blessings of Christ; we must be awake and ready, restless, actively working at being his disciples.  How many of us really do this?  And we are to pray always, Paul says “WITHOUT CEASING” I Thessalonians 5:17, that we will escape the perils of this world and stand justified before the Son of Man.  Go back to the parable that Jesus taught us about persistence that we studied just a few chapters back:


Luke 18:11And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”


But that’s hard, you say!  Paul tells us that we are to be prepared and that God has given us armor for that purpose:


Ephesians 6:13 13 ”Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”


v.37-3837And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. 38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.”


            Luke finishes up this part of his record by simply stating that Jesus spent the week prior to his crucifixion teaching in the temple and at night he went out of the city.  Matthew says to Bethany, which is located on the Mount of Olives about two miles from the city proper.  Some nights, because of the multitudes of people present for the Passover, many people simply went out of the city into the surrounding country side and wrapped themselves in their cloaks to sleep.  Jesus and his disciples did that as well and that is part of the reason that Judas knew where they could be found when he betrayed our Lord.  Then in the mornings he would return early to the temple to teach and the people would gather to hear him.