Jesus is the Son of Man
The Destruction of Jerusalem
All right! Grab your Bibles with me, if you will and turn to Luke chapter 21. If you do not have a Bible or are in need of a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.
Jesus of Nazareth, whose life we have been following in Luks Gospel, is and was the Messiah, the long awaited, long prophesied Christ. He showed this through his teachings, through his miracles that he preformed and through the Old Testament Scriptures.
But the people of Israel, specifically the religious leaders of the day, who, by the way, knew scriptures backward and frontward, they knew scriptures better than any of us here today.
And they looked through their own lens and they saw scriptures and interpreted them through their very specific lens. With that, they had come to have a very clear set of expectations from how they read the scriptures. And this Jesus fella didn’t meet those expectations, not even a little.
Well, neither did what he was about to say. Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 21 verses 5 through 28. I will, as always, be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to grab your Bibles and read along in your preferred translation.
Luke 21:5-28, He, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records these words of Jesus:
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers[c] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Thus says the Word of God.
First, we see that the temple in Jerusalem is being admired. Marks Gospel specifies that it is the disciples that are doing the admiring. And the temple was well worth the admiration and awe that were giving it. In addition to a religious meeting place and a house of worship, it was a tourist attraction. It was an architectural marvel. And it was at the center of everything God related to the Jewish people. This was where God dwelt among them. It was a symbol of his greatness and his presence, and sadly, of the greatness of the Jewish people.
And it was beautiful. Even in the middle of a 50-year renovation, it wouldn’t be finished until 63 AD, it was s sight beyond any thing else in the ancient world. The ancient historian, Josephus described it this way:
The whole of the outer works of the temple was in the highest degree worthy of admiration; for it was completely covered in Gold Plates, which, when the sun was shining on them, glittered so dazzlingly that they blinded the eyes of the beholders not less than when one gazed at the sun’s rays themselves. And on the other sides, where there was no gold, the blocks of marble were of such pure white that to strangers who had never previously seen them (from a distance) they looked like a mountain of snow.
The temple was the epitome of grandeur and of security. It was 4 football fields wide and 5 football fields long. Its no wonder the disciples were marveling and wondering at the temple…
Part of the issue was that the Jewish people, the physical nation, the physical seed of Abraham thought that solely and simply because of that, they would be eternally and continually blessed and that they deserved Gods blessing and protection and that they deserved it simply because they were born into Israel.
Because of that, they had no need of Jesus as a savior. Not an eternal, soul savior. They wanted a national, military savior. They were already saved in the spiritual sense.
Jesus is speaking against that hubris here. That hubris was a direct reason why they rejected Jesus. Jesus tells the disciples, this temple, as great and grand as it is, as large and well built as it is, as wonderous and glorious as it is, it wont stand forever. The Nation of Israel wont stand forever. The day will come when the temple will be destroyed and not one of these stones will be left on another. The destruction will not only be total, but it will also be complete.
This would have been a complete and total shock to those who heard it. Borderline heresy or blasphemy. As we see in other Gospels, the Disciples were so shocked at this that they take Jesus aside and try to get some alone time with him so they can figure out what he is talking about. So, they went to the Mount of Olives and were basically looking over Jerusalem, overlooking the temple itself.
And from there, the disciples ask Jesus about this destruction of temple that He mentioned. When is this going to happen? What are you talking about? What should you we be looking for? How will we know this thing is imminent?
This is important because what we need to remember is that this is the very immediate context that most of what Jesus is about to say. From verses 8 through 24, Jesus is speaking of the not to distant future. Many people also think that he is weaving in looking at the distant future as well, as in our days and the end times, but there is no indication in this section of Jesus changing tone or subject as he is talking.
Jesus starts by warning against false teachers. And false teachers of two very specific veins. He is warning the disciples of those who will claim to be the returning Christ. Don’t listen to them. The other group is those who will claim that Jesus has already come back. We have seen a lot of both of these groups through out history and the first century was no different. We even see Paul writing to the Thessalonians because some thought that they had missed Jesus’ return.
Jesus says to mark and avoid these false teachers that will be popping up all over the place.
Wars and armed conflicts will be present, and they need to be present before this will take place. But that doesn’t mean that the end is near. This is just life in a fallen and sinful world. I saw one researcher who said that of all of thousands of years of human civilization, there has only been something like 238 years of peace in the world. So, to Jesus’ point, the fact that there are wars is not, in and of itself, a sing of the end being near.
And Rome was, by its nature, a nation of war. Peace through tyranny. They fought and conquered in their quest for peace. A state of war was a way of life. Even if not active warfare, the Jewish people were living under military occupation and so were constantly aware of the chance of war and military action that could break out any day. And it did on occasion.
As Jesus continues, what we see in verse 10 through 17, nation against nation, earthquakes, persecution, both from the Jewish religious leaders and from the Caesars, and the Roman military, all of this stuff, all took place in history after Jesus’ ascension and before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Rome was fighting against other nations. There was a massive earthquake in what is now Turkey in 61 AD. Pompeii famously erupted two years later.
We talked a few weeks ago about the relationship between Israel and Rome was becoming increasingly volatile. Their conflicts were increasing and becoming more intense.
This, combined with the fact that the first Christians were Jewish and were going to cause national trouble by refusing to worship and bow to Caesar, meant that Rome was going to continue to persecute and come down hard on Israel and this new sect of Judaism, as they saw it. This would especially show itself during the reign of Nero in the 60’s.
Jesus also warns his disciples that they would face persecution, as He is as he says this, from the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin and the like. We see this in the book of Acts with how often Peter and John especially get brought before the Jewish courts, with Saul leading the stoning of Stephan, and Paul himself and his imprisonments.
Things are going to be and look and feel very bad. Things are going to occur which can be and will to those who have no hope, be very scary.
But God knows and uses all of this. Trouble for the church will always mean the opportunity to bear witness of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Jesus says, its gonna get bad in this physical world, but I will be with you and the Holy Spirit will be with you.
You might have physical trouble sin this world when all this is going on, when you are persecuted, when the wars take place and when natural disasters happen, but through your faith in Jesus Christ, you will have eternal life that will never be able to be taken from you.
Now, essentially, all that Jesus said so far was in the lead up to what he says in verses 20-24. All of the previous parts were to take place between Jesus’s ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem, which he starts describing here, in 70 AD.
The Roman military laid siege to Jerusalem, they would surround Jerusalem and cut them off from all outside goods, services, food and water. Early Christians remember Jesus’ warnings and would flee Jerusalem before they got cut off. Because Jerusalem was cut off, there was no food, to the point that cannibalism was taking place and nursing mothers had no milk to feed their babies.
Eventually, the Roman military, led by the General Tacitus, invaded Jerusalem and laid waste to the entire city. Jerusalem was trampled by the Gentiles. And enough destruction was done to the temple that, when they went to try to gather all the gold plating and what ever else they could, the gold had melted down into the walls of the temple. So, they completely took apart very stone off of every stone, as Jesus prophesied, in order to get the gold.
All of this occurred in 70 AD, less than 40 years after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension. 7 years after the renovation of the temple. This was not some far off, one day, at the end, type of thing. This is biblical history and recorded extra biblical history.
And in telling the disciples that this was coming, he had told them 4 Don’ts. While looking for and experiencing these things.
Don’t be led astray.
Don’t Be afraid.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness.
Don’t Give up.
Now, here, Jesus does transition the time that he is referring to. Starting in verse 25, He transitions to the end. The temple in Jerusalem was a type that was looking forward to Jesus. As well, the temples destruction was a type pointing forward towards the final judgment.
Jesus tells his disciples, without giving specifics, very purposely, that stuff is going to happen, there will be major universal signs and then, all of a sudden, He will return. The Second Coming will be instant. It will be glorious. It will be powerful. And it will be unmissable.
Jesus is clear here, and in Mark 13 and every time he speaks of his return, don’t focus on when. Instead focus on Me. Focus on how you respond to what’s going on around you and persevere through it.
Kent Hughes writes: We also see that Jesus was not interested in giving date setting details but in encouraging his own to be steadfast and faithful until he returns.
And that’s the whole key to this whole section of scripture. Jesus in verse 28, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Focus on Jesus, look up and look to him. He gets you through it all and he brings you through it all. He is your redemption.
One note on the word of redemption I read says: This word means deliverance on payment of a price. Jesus paid the price at Calvary, and here he looks forward to the final fulfillment of what that deliverance means.
So, the reason for the events of Verses 6 through 24 is the rejection of Jesus as the Christ. Israel, as a Corporate and National group, which is how they expected to receive their salvation and blessing, they rejected Jesus as the Son of God, so God rejected them.
But all, as individuals, will have a chance to accept Christ.
Jesus is the person, the place, the thing in which we place our trust and our hope. The temple in Jerusalem, what had been the dwelling place of God, is destroyed and no longer exists. It no longer matters. Instead, God sent Jesus, who is the true and eternal temple.
Jesus points this out when he talks about destroying the temple and then rebuilding it in three days, and obvious allusion to his death and resurrection. This gives eternal life to every individual, Jew or Gentile, who believes in him.
He is your redemption, and he draws near.
Charles Wesley, the famous hymn writer, writes:
Lo, He comes with clouds descending
Once for favored sinners slain.
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train.
God appears on earth to reign.
Now, the fall of Jerusalem is Gods wrath poured out on those who rejected him. God has promised wrath on those who reject his Son. And he has promised that all who follow Christ, all who trust him, all who are His, will not face the wrath of God.
However, in the words of Philip Ryken:
There is one exception, however. Once there was a godly man who trusted in all the promises of God, but still suffered the full weight of Gods Wrath against sin. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus asked if there was any way that he could avoid the cross where he suffered Gods curse against our sin. But there is no other way—no way for us to be saved except through Jesus, there was no way of escape from the wrath of God. He suffered what we deserved so that we could be safe in him.
We are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.
He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.
We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.
Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.
We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.
First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.