This Week’s Reading Schedule
Friday’s (today’s) Bible Reading is Luke 21-24. Monday, we will begin Acts, reading chapters 1-5.
The overall year’s plan is here.
Jesus makes it clear over and over again that his Messiahship is not the establishment of the kingdom of Israel over all the world, nor the overthrow of the Roman government in any way. Just the opposite. The temple will be destroyed!
When people ask Jesus when the destruction of the temple will happen, Jesus has an interesting answer. He tells them that they’re going to hear that the Messiah has returned. They’ll hear of wars and signs.
What is our reaction to all of this? Don’t listen and continue in your life of obedience to God!
Many signs of the end are given here. The first sign that they’re actually to pay attention to is when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies. They must flee Jerusalem immediately.
History says that the church obeyed Jesus in these words when the Roman general and future emperor Titus led armies against Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They were spared as a result.
The second thing that Jesus says to take note of is when we see the Son of Man coming in a cloud in great glory. That’s the time to pay attention, he says. Wars and rumors of wars are not the end (v. 9).
Instead, what we should be doing is preparing for the end when it comes. We must "be on guard" and "pray at all times." We can even expect to be persecuted and betrayed even by our families (vv. 12-19).
The Pharisees were out to get Jesus, but they were scared of the people. The end of chapter 21 tells us that Jesus was freely teaching the people in public every day.
Judas now affords the Pharisees the opportunity to arrest Jesus by night, and they take him up on it.
Jesus tells us that this is his last Passover until he eats it again in the kingdom of God, which is almost certainly a reference to the end of the age, when the faithful feast with Jesus and with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Once more there is a discussion over who will be great in the kingdom of God, and once more Jesus makes it clear that it is the servant of all who will be great. In the kingdom of God we do not lord it over or exercise authority over others, but we serve by the power of God.
Jesus makes a huge promise to the twelve, that they will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel!
This is the story of Jesus’ betrayal, which speaks for itself. It is also the story of Peter’s humiliation, which actually happens twice, once when he’s rebuked for using a sword, and once when he denies Christ three times as prophesied.
Jesus has them bring two swords, one of which was in Peter’s hand, which we know from the other Gospels. Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, and he received a rebuke for it from Jesus, who also healed the servant’s ear.
Later, Peter denied Christ as prophesied.
All of us need our own confidence and strength cut off so that we can become confident in the life of Christ alone. This happens in many different ways. Peter’s route was heartbreaking to him, but millions have benefited throughout history as a result.
We find the crowds turning on Jesus from the very start of this chapter. The very ones who were stopping the Pharisees were now their allies.
When it came time for Pilate to release someone because of the feast of Passover, the people rejected Jesus and chose the rebel Barabbas instead.
It is interesting to note that "Barabbas" means "son of the father," a symbolic substitute for the real Son of the real Father.
In v. 28, we see that Jesus has not lost sight of his plan at all. He is not feeling sorry for himself, but he calls for the daughters of Jerusalem to weep for those that have done this and not for him.
In vv. 39-43, we see the great mercy of God at work once again, as Jesus forgives one of the thieves on the cross, telling him that he will be in Paradise with him on that day.
Luke 24, as we will talk about a bit on Monday, is the most spectacular event in the history of mankind. Jesus suffered and died, just as predicted, and then he rose from the dead.
We have read three times now, once in each of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so named because of their similarities) that Jesus told the Pharisees that the only way to plunder a strong man’s house was to be stronger than the strong man, bind him up, then his house could be plundered.
Jesus rising from the dead was the plundering of the satan’s house.
The devil’s house is not the lake of fire, but in a sense he did rule Hades. The devil is the one who had the power of death, but when Jesus entered his domain, he put an end to his power, which is supposed to deliver us from the fear and power of death (Heb. 2:14).
If we really believe the things we say; if we meditate on the Word of God and take delight in the things that he has said; then we will be delivered from fear of death. We will know that our life is not in this world, but we have already entered an eternal kingdom. We await the judgment at the end of the age, and we await the reward of the eternal kingdom (e.g., 2 Pet. 1:5-11), but we are already "translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son" because of faith in the resurrected Lord (Col. 1:13).
The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus ought to make all our hearts burn. Jesus took the time to explain all the Hebrew Scriptures to these disciples that had to do with him.
Many of those things he explained were in common knowledge in the early churches, but we have forgotten a lot of prophecy that the early Christians knew as a matter of habit.
One of the best resources putting together the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures from an early Christian standpoint is The Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew. It is not an easy read, admittedly, but it is capable of setting your heart on fire, as Justin explains to Trypho passage after passage of Scripture, showing how very much of the Hebrew Scriptures relate to Jesus, to the cross, to the resurrection, and to the Gospel.
Jesus ate with the apostles. He went out of his way to make it clear that he was bodily resurrected. He was not merely a spirit or a ghost.
Jesus ascends into heaven, but first he gives them a brief description of what he’s done. He has risen. Now the whole world can be told that they can repent, receive forgiveness of sins, and live a new life in the Holy Spirit.
The apostles’ job, as we will talk more about on Monday, is primarily to be a witness of the resurrection, though they would also be witnesses of all he had done while he was with them.
The power in that witness cannot be understated, but we will discuss that more on Monday when we do Acts 1-5.