Luke 21:25–36 NRSV – “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Summary – This passage is part of the Olivet Discourse, a talk Jesus gave to a few of his disciples after leaving the temple in Jerusalem. He explains about the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple and his coming in judgment. The time-frame of when these things will happen is stated, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.” So there is a clear indication this was to be fulfilled in the first century in a complex of events which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. However, even if this was the primary fulfillment, the emphasis here is on the calamity and judgment that will befall those not “on guard” or who do not “stay alert.” When judgment comes there’s no time (Lk. 17:31) to go take care of your family. So “Be on guard” and don’t let “that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap” . . . Be alert at all times.” The result is that we must be able “to stand before the Son of Man.”
Insight – Have you been surprised by anyone recently? A few years ago I arranged for longtime friends to surprise my wife at our door. So she answered the door and was completely surprised at seeing her good friends. This was a “good surprise.” But how about a bad surprise, like when someone tries to play a prank and scares you, maybe by hiding in a closet and jumping out to frighten you. Sometimes calamities befall us and we get terribly bad news about a friend or relative. Jesus warned the disciples that a judgment was coming and it surely came for Jerusalem. While we may not be facing such a judgment in history, such as the fall of a nation or a sudden destruction (although that could be in our future), the principle of always being ready and being alert spiritually always applies. We need to confess our sins and walk in love. We need to put away bitterness and love others. We always need to have our house in order spiritually and relationally so that we could joyfully meet our Lord Jesus at any time. Jesus may not be coming soon but you may soon go to him.
Catechism – Why should we be alert at all times? We should always be ready to meet Jesus.
Discussion – If you knew your world would end today at 6 pm, what would you want to do before then?
Prayer – O Lord we confess that you are our almighty and righteous Judge and we plead for your mercy in our lives as we are also merciful to others. Grant that we may always be prepared to meet you, clothed in the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ our Savior. We thank you for this in Christ’s name. Amen.