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Lesson 4: Holy Week

Jesus now finished all he had to say, and he told the disciples, “Passover starts in two days, and the Chosen One will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas. They planned to arrest Jesus under some pretext and execute him…”

– Matthew 26:1-4 (TIB)

Devotion: The disciples do not know Jerusalem will be destroyed and the Temple razed by Roman legions in 37 years. In today’s reading, when they hear Jesus talk about the Temple’s stones being overthrown, they think he is talking about God’s judgment at the end of time. As their conversation moves forward, Jesus shifts back and forth between the destruction coming in 70 CE, general Christian persecution, and the end of time. Keep this in mind while reading Luke 21:5-38.

A few simple messages can be heard amidst all the dire prophecies of war, persecution, and destruction. These are applicable for all people, those where pain has already come and those who know it lies ahead. “By your endurance you will gain your souls” (21:19). Persecution and/or loss is coming in one form or another to each of us. When it comes, do not abandon your faith. God is with you. God will give you any words you need to share. Be careful that you are not living in shameful ways because days like these come without warning. Do you typically become stronger under pressure or begin to lose faith? What positive and/or negative parts of your personality shine forth the most in difficulty? What changes to your life need to happen prior to crisis?

Personal Worship Option: Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. In what circumstances do you need to hear these words? Which is more necessary for you to develop: alertness, faith, courage, strength, or love? How do all of these interweave together? Spend time in prayer.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Reread Luke 19:43 to remember Jesus’ other comments about the destruction of Jerusalem.

21:7 The disciples question of “when will this be” is not specifically answered. Instead, Jesus gives examples of things for which we should watch and prepare. What does this general response teach about the place of faith and knowledge in Christian faith? Why is faith better?  

21:8 Every generation has persons who announce the date for when Jesus is going to return. In doing so, they ignore his very clear instruction (Mk 13:32). What should the Christian response be to those predicting Jesus’ return date?

21:12 Jesus turns to persecution. Christian persecution begins under Emperor Nero (54-68 CE). Many in the early church wrongly assumed the city’s destruction signaled the return of Christ.

21:14 The Greek phrase translated here refers to stage actors rehearsing a scene. Christians are not to put on a character but be themselves in addressing persecutors. What faith mask are you tempted to wear? What masks do you see around church and work?

21:19 “Not a hair of your head will perish” refers to the promise of resurrection to eternal life, not escape from physical harm during persecution, which 21:16 assumes.

21:20 Jesus focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem before moving on to the question of when the second coming will occur (21:25). What are the messages he wants us to hear?

21:29 Fig trees appear completely dead in winter, only to spring back to life. Jesus prophecies that Christian faith will suffer to the point of appearing dead but spring back with power.

21:34 What does Jesus worry will happen to the church? What might cause his words to come true? Have they come true in the modern faith community? Are we ready for his return?

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