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Luke 21:1. Looked up.—From the parallel passage in Mark 12:41 we learn that our Lord had taken his seat in the court of the women, where were the chests for containing gifts and offerings to the Temple. These chests were thirteen in number, and had trumpet-shaped mouths for receiving the money. On the chests were labels specifying the purposes to which the money was to be applied.
Luke 21:2. Saw also.—Omit “also”; omitted in R.V. Poor widow.—The word “poor” is emphatic; almost equivalent to “beggar.” Two mites.—The mite was the smallest Jewish coin, about equal to a tenth of an English penny.
Luke 21:3. More than they all.—The estimate being formed, not on the amount given, but on the amount remaining after the gift; or, in other words, on the quality of the gift and not on its quantity.
Luke 21:4. Of their abundance.—Rather, “of their superfluity” (R.V.). A sharp antithesis to the destitution of the widow. All the living.—Lit. “life”—i.e., means of subsistence. “Yet the word seems chosen expressly to indicate entire devotion of herself, her life, as well as livelihood, to God’s service” (Speaker’s Commentary).
Luke 21:5. Gifts.—Rather, sacred “offerings” (R.V.). “Such as the golden chain of Agrippa; gifts of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Augustus, Helen of Adiabene, and crowns, shields, goblets, etc.; the golden vine, with its vast clusters, given by Herod” (Farrar).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 21:1-6
Self-sacrifice.—This little incident occupies a striking place in the Gospel records. Jesus has just uttered woe after woe upon His hypocritical and malignant foes, and is about to impart to His disciples a revelation of dread events yet to come—the overthrow of the Jewish people, the destruction of the Temple, and startling phenomena that would usher in His Second Coming. Between His burning words of denunciation and the awe-inspiring disclosures He makes to His disciples, comes this genial appreciation of a deed of self-sacrifice and love, done by a poor and obscure worshipper as she passed out of the house of God. As if to show that no feelings of personal anger mingled with His righteous anger, and that, though his heart was sad, His mind was unruffled, He sat down as an unoccupied spectator in the court of the Temple, and, with gentle voice and mien, commented upon the good deed which had come under His observation. We may note His approval of the principle that self-sacrifice is an essential part of true worship, and the commendation He bestowed upon the action of this poor widow.
I. Self-sacrifice an essential part of true worship.—The fact that provision was made in the Temple for gifts and offerings to be presented by worshippers as they retired, is very significant. It teaches that all worship of God should tend towards and end in self-sacrifice. We come to church to worship God—to join with the saints upon earth, and with the angels and the redeemed in heaven, in adoring the Divine majesty and holiness. This is our reasonable service, and by it our lives are sanctified. We humble ourselves before Him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil; in His presence we disclose our thoughts, we acknowledge our transgressions and secret faults, and seek to exhibit that contrition that will justify forgiveness. We contemplate the mercy God has revealed, adore the Saviour whom He has sent, rejoice in the thought of the Divine compassion, and give expression to our gratitude in hymns of praise. This is the worship which God seeks; it is the holy incense which is acceptable to Him: but this worship should issue in self-sacrifice. Sacrifice is the one main idea in every form of religion known to man. Horrible as many of the forms of sacrifice have been, and are, among heathen races, yet in all cases they proclaim the same great truth, that man owes himself and all he has to God. And Christianity, above all other religions, sets forth this truth. What is the cross but the symbol of the greatest of all deeds of self-sacrifice—the complete surrender of a life for the glory of God and the good of mankind? What does it teach but that we belong altogether to God, and should yield ourselves to Him? This is how the holy apostles conceive of religion. In all their writings they remind us that we are not our own, but His, and that we should offer ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable.
II. The commendation bestowed upon the poor widow.—Why were the two mites of greater value than all the gold and silver which others cast in lavishly? Because, trifling though they were in intrinsic value, they were the sign of a complete and unreserved sacrifice of the whole being to God. She gave herself; the tiny bits of copper were but the symbol of this higher, nobler offering. This it was that threw into insignificance all the treasures that enriched the coffers of the Temple, and even the gifts with which wealthy devotees had adorned the building and made it the pride of the nation. Others gave something they could afford to spare—gave of their superfluity—and in this way gave less than she did. So that it is not a question of giving much or little of our property to a good cause, but of discovering by the light of this passage of Scripture whether we are offering to God a complete sacrifice of ourselves, or are substituting for it something which we can afford to part with, but which in comparison with ourselves has no value. Anything short of the gift of our all to God is unacceptable to Him. Take the case of those who would fain dedicate only part of the life, of the affections, of the interests, to His service. The young man, let us say, plans out the sort of life he would like to lead; he forms schemes of self-advancement, happiness, and self-gratification, from which thoughts of God are excluded. Religion is kept, as it were, in reserve, to be a resource and a consolation, when all the pleasures of life are exhausted, and the time of old age, weakness, and disappointment, has come. When the fortune is made, and success is won, there will be leisure for heavenly things. Is not this professing to give the superfluity and to retain the essential part? And yet we cannot be sure of retaining it, for at any moment death may seize the whole. We have the word of Christ to assure us that we do not lose what we give to God, but lay up for ourselves a treasure in heaven, which will never know diminution, but be an abiding possession. The life which is consecrated to God is not robbed of its delights—nay, it alone is the happy life; it multiplies present enjoyments a hundredfold, and secures for us the crown of eternal blessedness. But if we choose to keep all for ourselves, we are sure of losing it. “She cast in all the living that she had.” “How foolish of her!” some will say. Yes; it has been by folly like this, by lavish and unselfish love, that the world has been redeemed. Her action remains as a cutting rebuke of the selfish, worldly spirit, and of that mean and calculating prudence which even the world despises. For if there are few in the present age who have imitated her literal impoverishment of herself for the sake of religion, there are many who have followed a like course for the sake of country. There are many who have, from patriotic motives, forfeited property, happiness, and even reputation, and are willing to give up their lives for their country’s sake. And what is admirable in the lower sphere is surely not ridiculous in the higher. It is, then, with something like a reproachful pang of conscience that we should listen to the commendation bestowed on this poor widow: “She of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had; she hath cast in more than they all.” (See an interesting sermon on this text by Bernier: “La veuve, ou le don sans réserve.”)
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 21:1-6
Luke 21:1-6. The Widow’s Offering and the Stones of the Temple.—While the disciples were wondering at the majestic towers and carved stone-work as a great offering dedicated by man to God, Christ had seen in the gift of the poor widow an offering equally great in the eye of Heaven. The contrast suggests—
I. The true measure of sacrifice.—Not the greatness of the outward act, but the perfectness of the inward motive.
II. The true idea of a temple.—The disciples saw God’s dwelling-place in the house of stone with its Holy of Holies and altars of sacrifice. Christ saw it in the broken heart of the widow.
Three practical lessons we may learn:
1. A lesson of duty—to live to God in small things; to dedicate our lives to Him, even if we have no great opportunities of service, and are vexed by cares.
2. A lesson of encouragement. Live to God in all things; consider no sacrifice too great or too small; do your best in everything, as in His sight;—and you will find Him everywhere.
3. A lesson of warning. The Jews had come to see God only in the Temple at Jerusalem. As a consequence they became formalists—the surrender of their souls was forgotten. And the splendid Temple fell! So now and ever. Forget the Divinity of all life, and the temple of your soul will become desolate.—Hull.
Luke 21:1-4. The Eye of Christ.—“He beheld.” This text is full of instruction; it encourages the very humblest to give; it thus makes giving a universal duty and privilege; it proclaims a searching paradox as to more and less; and it requires us to feel that our givings are scrutinised by Him before whose judgment-seat we are to stand.
I. The circumstances are instructive.
II. The scrutiny of the Saviour was very searching.
III. This poor widow gave all she had.—Relatively, it was a great gift.
IV. The Lord does not receive any offering unless it is large enough to prove self-denial on the part of the giver.—The money in itself is valueless to God, but is of value as representing thankfulness, self-denial, prayer, and trust.—Symington.
Hypocrisy and Piety.
I. Some pretended to love God.—They did their good works, their “righteousness,” to be seen of men. They loved themselves, their reputation—not God.
II. One really loved God.—She gave all she had. She had nothing left. There was no ostentation. There would have been condemnation had others known that all she gave was “two mites.” Really, however, others only gave a little, this worshipper gave all, out of grateful love to God.
III. What pleases God.—Not outside show, not display of goodness, not ostentatious giving of much. But love, gratitude, humility, self-sacrifice—these are pleasing in God’s sight. We can please God in little, if that little is our all.—“Sunday School Chronicle.”
Heartiness in Action.—Giving is one form of action for God. What is the aspect which many of the Lord’s people present to the world in this particular? Where is their heartiness in it? How much is there of form, and how little of decided action! Many who are steeped in poverty are rich indeed in action. The poor widow is a case in point.
I. She was of no account in the world’s estimation.
II. She was of no account, so far as man was concerned, in the Temple of the Lord.
III. Yet she alone receives the commendation of the Lord.—To Him who seeth not as man seeth she was immeasurably above all others.
IV. Learn that when we think we are unobserved we are doing all under the immediate eye of God.—We too often forget that we are the servants of One whose eye is ever on us, taking note of what we think, and speak, and do. In all our givings we should so perform these acts that we do not desire them to be hidden from the eyes of God. He who is like this poor widow will delight in the thought that his Lord knows all. Act, then, on all occasions as though you wished Jesus to look on.—Power.
“Two mites.”—Just between the woes and predictions of doom there befel an exquisite little incident, full of the tenderest and loveliest beauty. Jesus was sitting over against the treasury, watching the givers.
I. He sees who give, what they give, why they give.
II. He is arrested by the liberal giving of a poor widow.—He had pleasure in what she did. He commends her with an overflow of joy. He says nothing to herself—nothing in her hearing even; but He teaches the disciples a lesson in the political economy of the kingdom of heaven.
III. The money value of the offering was very small.—Probably it was the smallest of any presented there that day. But the relative value was very great. She had nothing left after giving her two mites. So this was the greatest offering of all contributed that day.
IV. The offering had also spiritual value, because of what it represented.—Men may value money for itself; the Lord does not. It is the heart He cares for. Jesus would not have spoken as He did unless her offering had expressed grateful love to God, and trust in Him for time to come, whatever may betide. Were the principles which appear in this little incident to pervade all Christian giving, the Lord’s treasury would contain exactly the right sum.—Culross.
The Widow’s Mites.
I. It is good to have our Lord’s estimate of the earth’s gifts.
II. In the eyes of Christ, this offering was of great price.
III. This value arose from the motive and spirit of the giver.—Miller.
Human and Divine Estimates.—The widow’s offering was, in the eyes of men—
I. Less than all.—Only a farthing. Not worth giving.
II. More than all.—In Christ’s estimate. She had given all, and left nothing. The others had retained much. What is Christ’s estimate of your givings?—W. Taylor.
I. The lively interest which Christ takes in the smaller details of our life.
II. The special interest He takes in the free-will offerings of His servants.
III. The mode in which He measures our offerings of money or service.—Ibid.
Luke 21:1. “Looked up.”—I.e., turned His attention from those who had been listening to Him, and took note of what was going on near at hand, where the boxes for receiving offerings stood.
Luke 21:2. “Two mites.”—She might have kept one of them.—Bengel.
Luke 21:3. “More.”—Jesus draws attention to the moral quality of the action, and bestows on it the praise which vulgar minds usually reserve for liberality that bulks largely in quantity. With the two mites she gave her heart also.
I. The action of the poor widow appeals to Christ as worthy of admiration.—As having great moral and spiritual value.
II. The disciples admire the magnificence of the Temple building.—They are impressed with the splendour that appeals to the senses and delights the æsthetic taste.
Luke 21:4. “Of her penury.”—
I. The loving heart counts no sacrifice too great.
II. The gracious Redeemer despises no gift, however small, when the motive of the giver is pure.
A Flower in The Desert.—What a contrast to the greed with which the scribes and Pharisees are charged in the preceding verses! This incident, which meets His notice just at this moment, is like a flower which He sees suddenly springing up in the desert of official devotion, the beauty and fragrance of which fills His heart with joy.—Godet.
Luke 21:5. “Adorned.”—
1. Beauty of outward semblance.
2. Yet perishable for lack of the indwelling spirit of religion.
“Gifts.”—The disciples take pleasure in looking upon the splendid gifts, made for the most part by heathen princes; they delight in them
(1) because of their beauty and value, and
(2) doubtless because they saw in them the fulfilment of such prophetical passages of Scripture as Psalms 72:0, Isaiah 60:0. They can scarcely fail to infer, from Christ’s words, that a doom rests upon the sanctuary; yet they can scarcely realise the fact, and almost intercede for its preservation.
Luke 21:6. “Not be left one stone.”—
1. The beauty of these things will not persuade the enemy to spare them.
2. The strength of the buildings will not be able to resist the power of the enemy.
Luke 21:7. And they asked Him.—St. Mark tells us (Luke 13:3) that the questioners were the apostles Peter, John, James and Andrew. The discourse that follows is related by the two first evangelists as having been uttered on the Mount of Olives. St. Luke does not mention the place, and but for the parallel reports of the discourse we might have supposed that it was given in the Temple. There is, however, a break after Luke 21:7, which agrees with the change of place. We are, therefore, to understand that the opening incident took place in the Temple, and that, the discourse was spoken in the evening, on the Mount of Olives (see Luke 21:37).
Luke 21:8. Many shall come.—There are no distinct historical records of such false Christs appearing before the fall of Jerusalem; but no doubt there were such. And the time.—I.e., special time, crisis. These are the words of false Christs, exciting the minds of men and leading to expect some extraordinary event as on the point of happening.
Luke 21:9. Wars.—War against the Jews was threatened by Caligula, Claudius and Nero. Commotions.—“There were serious disturbances
(1) at Alexandria, in which the Jews as a nation were the special objects of persecution;
(2) at Seleucia about the same time, in which more than fifty thousand Jews were killed;
(3) at Iamnia, near Joppa” (Alford). Not by and by.—Rather, “not immediately” (R.V.).
Luke 21:11. Great earthquakes.—Alford gives a list of earthquakes that took place between the time of this prophecy and the fall of Jerusalem. in Crete, A.D. 46 or 47; in Rome, A.D. 51; at Apamæa in Phrygia, A.D. 53; at Laodicæa in Phrygia, A.D. 60; and one in Campania. Famines and pestilences.—Generally occurring together. One such famine is mentioned in Acts 11:28, happening in A.D. 49. Suetonius, Tacitus, and Josephus tell of others as taking place within this period. Fearful sights.—“Among these would be the ‘Abomination of Desolation,’ which seems best to correspond with the orgies of the Zealots, which drove all worshippers in horror from the Temple. Such, too, would be the rumour of monstrous births; the cry, ‘Woe, woe!’ for seven and a half years of the peasant Jesus, son of Hanan; the voice and sound of departing guardian-angels, and the sudden opening of the Temple-gate, which required twenty men to move it (Josephus, Tacitus, passim)” (Farrar). Signs from heaven.—The same historians speak of a comet shaped like a sword, and of the appearance of armies fighting with each other in the clouds.
Luke 21:13. Turn to you for a testimony.—I.e., give you an opportunity of testifying for your Lord.
Luke 21:16. Some of you.—Certainly two of the apostles who had put the question to Christ, perhaps all of them, died violent deaths.
Luke 21:17. Hated of all men.—Cf. Acts 28:22.
Luke 21:18. Not a hair.—From a comparison of this with Luke 21:16 we see that the promise is a spiritual one: no real harm come to you. In Acts 27:34 the promise is a literal one.
Luke 21:19. In patience, etc.—Rather, “in your patience ye shall win your souls” (R.V.); or, “by your endurance of all these things ye shall acquire your souls;” it is God’s appointed way by which you will win salvation.
Luke 21:21. Flee to the mountains.—It is recorded by Eusebius that the Christians left Judæa before the siege of Jerusalem, and took refuge in Pella, in the north of Peræa. Probably the “oracular warning,” which is said to have occasioned this action, was in this passage of the Gospel. In the midst of it.—Rather, “of her” (R.V.)—i.e., Jerusalem. In the countries.—Rather, “in the country” (R.V.), or “in the fields.”
Luke 21:22. Days of vengeance.—A reference, perhaps, to Luke 18:8.
Luke 21:23. Woe unto them.—The word “woe” here, contrary to the general rule, seems to express simply pity for those in that condition.
Luke 21:24. They shall fall, etc.—I.e., this people. Josephus says the slain in the war with the Romans amounted to 1,100,000, and that 97,000 were sold into slavery, mostly to Egypt and the provinces. Trodden down of the Gentiles—“All sorts of Gentiles—Romans, Saracens, Persians, Franks, Norsemen, Turks—have ‘trodden down’ Jerusalem since then” (Farrar). Times of the Gentiles.—I.e., fixed times, seasons, or opportunities, until the acceptance or rejection of the gospel by the Gentiles.
Luke 21:25. Signs in the sun, etc.—Omit the article before sun, moon, and stars; omitted in R.V. The signs seem to be metaphorical of the vicissitudes of nations and the downfall of thrones.
Luke 21:26. Men’s hearts failing.—Rather, “men fainting” (R.V.). The earth.—The word implies “the habitable world.” The powers of heaven.—The stars, the Host of Heaven.
Luke 21:28. Your redemption.—I.e., the completion of it by Christ’s appearing.
Luke 21:32. This generation.—The word so translated means both those living at a certain time and also a race: in the former sense the prophecy found fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem, forty years later; in the latter sense it implies that the Jewish race will continue till the end of all things.
Luke 21:34 Surfeiting.—The headache and dizziness resulting from drunkenness. In the three classes of danger—“surfeiting, drunkenness, and cares of this life”—we have results of past debauchery, present incapacitation for attending to spiritual interests, and anxiety concerning the future.
Luke 21:35. As a snare.—This should be connected with Luke 21:34 : “come on you suddenly as a snare;” so in R.V. That dwell.—Lit. “that sit” securely.
Luke 21:36. Accounted worthy.—A better reading is “prevail”—“that ye may prevail to escape” (R.V.)—i.e., be in a condition to escape.
Luke 21:36. And to stand.—Lit. “to be set”—i.e., by the angels.
Luke 21:37. And in the day time.—“And every day” (R.V.) “The notice is retrospective, applying to Palm Sunday and the Monday and Tuesday in Passion Week. After Tuesday evening He never entered the Temple again. Wednesday and Thursday were spent in absolute and unrecorded retirement, perhaps with His disciples in the house at Bethany, until Thursday evening, when He went into Jerusalem again for the Last Supper” (Farrar). Abode in the mount.—Perhaps bivouacked in the open air.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 21:7-38
The Great Prophecy.—The intimation so suddenly and unexpectedly given by Jesus, that the Temple, upon which the disciples looked with such admiration, was doomed to utter overthrow, filled their minds with a strong desire to know something of the course events would take in time to come. The veil had been partly lifted, and they were eager to know more than had been disclosed by this hasty glimpse into the mysterious future. They could not disassociate the overthrow of the Temple from the end of the world and from the second coming of their Master, and in this discourse upon the last things, these three great events are the chief topics, no intimation, however, being given of the precise intervals of time that would elapse between them. In this prophetic picture time is, as it were, annihilated, and one great series of events after another is seen looming up in the distance with equal clearness of detail; so that we can easily believe that the impression was left upon the mind of the disciples that close upon the destruction of the Jewish state would come the end of the world, and the establishment of the visible kingdom of Christ. All through the discourse we see that the purpose Jesus has in view is rather to strengthen the faith of His disciples, by forewarning them of trials and difficulties through which they would have to pass, than to satisfy their curiosity as to the future.
I. Events immediately succeeding His departure (Luke 21:8-19).—He forewarns His disciples against dangers that would especially assail them; they would be liable to be misled by religious pretenders, to be terrified by startling changes and disasters, to be persecuted on account of their faith in Him, to be betrayed by kinsfolk and friends, and to be forced in some instances to choose between death and loyalty to their Master. Some of these dangers would be all the greater because of the strength of their faith; others because of the weakness of the flesh. Their firm persuasion of the fact that Christ would return to earth would predispose them to believe rumours of His having returned; their belief that all events are ordered by God might incline them to be hasty in offering interpretations of the significance of great changes in human society, or of remarkable natural phenomena. Nor are Christians in our own day free from the risks against which Christ here warns His disciples. A feverish expectation of the return of Christ has been and is cherished by many, and leads to an unwholesome form of religious life, and to a credulity that renders those who cherish it an easy prey to unscrupulous pretenders. Many, too, are eager to find in events of the present day the fulfilment of the prophecies of Scripture, and draw down contempt upon themselves and upon the studies to which they are addicted by the glaring errors and absurdities into which they fall. The second class of dangers of which Christ speaks are those which arise from human weakness; the stress of persecution, the treachery of friends, and the hatred of the world, were only too likely in some instances to put the loyalty of His followers to a severe test. Hence He lays great emphasis upon the special aid which He would give to those placed in such trying circumstances. He would impart wisdom and skill that would enable them to maintain their cause before kings and rulers, and see to it that no real loss or injury resulted to them. They might be put to death, but not a hair of their head would perish—their true life, their highest interests, were secure in His keeping.
II. Provision for the safety of His followers when Jerusalem should be destroyed (Luke 21:20-24).—For some years after His departure the fate of the Christian community seemed to be closely connected with that of the Jewish people and religion. Christ’s followers still observed the Mosaic laws, and frequented the Temple, and were largely of Jewish race. Hence when the overthrow of the Holy City seemed at hand there was great danger that many of the Christian population would be carried away by the fanatical delusions of those about them, and believe that at the last moment God would intervene and save the nation by a miraculous deliverance. But Christ here warns them that at a certain period the path of duty and safety would lie in their separating themselves from those upon whom the Divine vengeance was to be poured out. When the Roman armies began to compass the city they must save themselves by flight; a place of refuge would be opened up for them, and they must hasten to take advantage of it. No obscurity hangs about this part of Christ’s prophetic discourse; the danger and the mode of deliverance are plainly pointed out, and history records the fact that none of the Christian community perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Nor is the fate of the nation upon whom such dire chastisement was to be inflicted left surrounded with a cloud of darkness. They would be overwhelmed by many disasters, and their capital would be trodden down of the Gentiles; but only for a time—“until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” A gleam of hope enlightens the darkness; though cast off, they are not cast off for ever.
III. The promise of the second coming (Luke 21:25-36).—In an earlier discourse on this topic (Luke 17:26-30) Jesus had described the state of carnal security in which the world would be plunged at the time of the end. He now describes the sudden breaking up of this security. “In the midst of this deep spiritual sleep and worldly torpor extraordinary symptoms will, in a moment, usher in one of those cosmical revolutions which our earth has more than once experienced. Like a ship which starts at every joint before it falls to pieces, the globe which we inhabit, and our whole solar system, undergo unwonted changes. The motive forces, which until now have been under rule, are, as it were, freed from the laws that govern them by some unknown power. And mankind, terrified by the shocks which break up what had been called the solid earth, and which are the prelude to its dissolution, pass an hour of anguish far keener than any yet known.” In contrast with the fear and horror of the ungodly world stands the joy of those who see in the coming of the Son of Man the advent of their Redeemer. Their fainting spirits are revived, their hopes are crowned by the event which fills those who are unprepared with anguish and dismay. The practical exhortation which Jesus adds to this revelation of the future is the necessity of constant watchfulness and prayer. Those who are His should be free from the tyranny of the present, and should keep themselves from the vices and follies that consume those who live only for this world. They should be on their guard against sin, and should pray for heavenly succour to aid their own feeble strength. So shall they be found worthy not only to escape punishment, but to stand accepted with the Son of Man.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 21:7-38
Luke 21:7-38. Last Words.
I. Last words in the Temple.
II. Warnings about the Temple.—Its present beauty. Its approaching fall. The premonitory signs. The days of vengeance.
III. Warnings for ourselves.—“Watch and pray.”—W. Taylor.
The Prophecy of the Overthrow of Jerusalem.
I. The circumstances in which the prophecy came to be uttered (Luke 21:5-7).
II. The prophecy itself (Luke 21:8-27).
1. The state of the world, and the position in which believers will be placed, after the departure of Jesus (Luke 21:8-19).
2. The destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish people (Luke 21:20-24).
3. The second coming of Christ (Luke 21:25-27).
III. An exhortation to watchfulness. (Luke 21:28-36).
Luke 21:7. “When shall these things be?”—The desire to know the future is, within certain limits, natural and legitimate. Christ does not here condemn it, but satisfies and sanctifies it.
Luke 21:8. “That ye be not deceived.”—This gives the key-note to the whole discourse. The purpose Christ has in view is a practical one—to describe the course of duty to be followed in trying circumstances, and to supply grounds for encouragement and motives to perseverance.
The disciples of Christ would lie open to this danger—
I. Because of their strong desire for their Master’s return.
II. Because many would be carried away by a foolish credulity.
III. Because it is difficult to resist a strong popular movement.
Luke 21:9. “Be not terrified.”—
1. You know the worst that any of these temporal judgments can do to you.
2. God is your refuge.
These things are
(1) not accidental.
(2) They are under the control of God.
(3) They are overruled for His glory and for the welfare of those who trust in Him.
Luke 21:10-11. “Nation shall rise,” etc.—The passage combines in one view the whole of the various social and physical crises of development in the whole New-Testament dispensation.—Lange.
Luke 21:12-17. Evils to Be Anticipated.—The disciples are to be prepared
(1) for persecution, both on the part of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities;
(2) for treachery on the part of kinsfolk and friends;
(3) for violent death;
(4) for the hatred of the world.
Luke 21:12-15. A Threefold Consolation.—
1. The persecution is for Christ’s sake.
2. It gives an opportunity for testifying for Him in the most striking manner.
3. In circumstances of special danger they receive special aid from Him.
Luke 21:15. “A mouth and wisdom.”—I.e.
(1), wisdom to know what to say;
(2) ability to say it as it should be said.
Luke 21:16. “Ye shall be betrayed.”—The fate which Christ Himself was so soon to meet would fall to the lot of some of His disciples in the ages to come. The disunions prophesied in Luke 2:34, Luke 12:53, would lead to this unnatural cruelty—parents, brethren, kinsfolk and friends turning against the followers of Christ and betraying them into the hands of enemies.
Luke 21:17. “Hated by all men.”—This prophetic word found fulfilment even in the first period of the Church. Cf. Romans 8:35-37; 1 Corinthians 4:9-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-29; Hebrews 10:32-34.
Luke 21:18-19. Security Promised.
I. Negatively: no real harm should befall them.
II. Positively: by their perseverance in the midst of all these persecutions, they should preserve their souls.
Luke 21:18. “Not an hair … perish.”—A figurative expression, which implies
(1) that notice would be taken of every loss incurred for the sake of Christ;
(2) that the cause would be well worth all losses undergone for it;
(3) that an ample recompense would be given.
“Not an hair … perish.”—
1. Not without the special providence of God.
2. Not without recompense.
3. Not before the time.
Luke 21:19. “In your patience.”—The worldly method of keeping possession of life is by repelling force with force. Not so is it to be with the disciples of Christ. They find protection by endurance, and not by violence; thus they preserve the true life, whatever else they may lose.
Luke 21:20. “The desolation thereof is nigh.”—I.e., that the siege would not be raised. The Jews, in their obstinacy, believed, even to the last, that the siege would be raised, and that supernatural deliverance would come.
Luke 21:21. “Depart out.”—I.e., from the city. This warning was very necessary, for after the rebels had for some time established themselves in the holy place, they would not allow any to quit the city.—(Josephus, B. J., Luke 5:12).
Luke 21:22. “Vengeance.”—I.e., of God’s vengeance, not of man’s. Even Titus seems to have been conscious that he was a minister of Divine retribution.
Luke 21:23. “Them that are with child,” etc.—An ejaculation of compassion for those who
(1) are unable to protect themselves; and
(2) see those whom they love dearest exposed to great danger.
Luke 21:24. The Ruin of The Jewish People.—
1. Multitudes slain with the sword.
2. Multitudes carried captive.
3. Their beautiful city laid waste by the Gentiles.
Luke 21:25-36. The Second Coming.
I. The preceding terrors.
II. The hope and safety of believers.
III. The certainty of it.
IV. The way to prepare for it.—W. Taylor.
Luke 21:25. “Signs in the sun,” etc.—Different signs from those spoken of in Luke 21:11. The language is that of the Hebrew prophets: Amos 8:9; Joel 2:30-31; Ezekiel 32:7-8. Cf. also Revelation 6:12-14. “How far this prophecy will be literally fulfilled cannot be determined. If the whole passage be taken figuratively, then a remarkable commotion in the sea of nations is predicted, but it may refer to physical perturbations ushering in the new earth. The perturbations, whether physical or not, will be portentous, producing general anxiety and despair in view of the further terror these events presage. This is evident from Luke 21:26.—“Popular Commentary.”
Luke 21:26. “For fear,” etc.—I.e., both
(1) fear on account of the present state of matters, and
(2) an anticipation of worse things to come.
Luke 21:27. The Last Judgment.—Christ’s second coming in point of time is first in the order of spiritual instruction. The study of it prepares us for that of the first coming.
I. Our Lord is referring to a future event.—The nearer coming at the destruction of Jerusalem is a shadow of the more remote and more awful Advent. The solemn words of Christ cannot be exhausted by a reference to the destruction of the Holy City. That, and every other judgment, is a forecast of the last day.
II. It is difficult to realise the certainty of the last judgment.
III. What will be the significance of that great event to each of us?—We shall see Jesus Christ as He is. We shall know ourselves as never before. The “vain things” of earth and time will not avail us then. The materials for the judgment are getting ready. Only, He who is to judge us then, offers to save us now. There is time to take such fast hold upon His cross, as to look forward without terror to standing before His throne.—Liddon.
“The Son of Man coming.”—This coming is evidently that referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, at the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5-6); a comparison with Revelation 19:11 ff. suggests that this advent precedes the millennium, but upon that point there has been much dispute. The safest opinion is that a personal coming of Christ is here meant, to take place after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and to be preceded by great catastrophes.—Popular Commentary.
Luke 21:28. “Look up.”—The word means to raise one’s self from a stooping posture, and is here applied to those previously bowed under tribulations. The idea of joy and hope is, of course, implied, as in the other phrase, “Lift up your heads”—which, however, suggests more strongly the idea of expectation. That which terrifies the world (the near approach of Christ), is hailed with delight by the Christian.
Luke 21:29-33. The Parable of The Trees.—The budding forth of trees in spring shows that the coming of summer is
(1) sure and
(2) near at hand. So, too, the signs specified would indicate that the kingdom of God was near at hand, and that the prophecy of Christ would surely be fulfilled.
Luke 21:29. “The fig-tree.”—Perhaps our Lord speaks here especially of a fig-tree, because this had served Him so frequently as a type of the Jewish people (Mark 11:12-14; Luke 13:6-9).
Luke 21:30. “Know of your own selves.”—I.e., it is not necessary to inform you; the sight of the buds upon the trees convey their own message that summer is at hand.
Luke 21:31. “The kingdom of God.”—I.e., as a kingdom of glory; the final establishment of the reign of Christ.
Luke 21:32. “This generation shall not pass.”—The reign of Christ over the Church militant on earth may, in one sense, be regarded as beginning with the destruction of Jerusalem. Then the old economy passed completely away, and Christ was made manifest to mankind as the only One who had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of the past, and as the sole Mediator between God and man.
Luke 21:33. “Heaven and earth shall pass away.”—After the discourse had risen to this height, there would ensue a dreary anti-climax, if we were to recognise in these words only a figurative description of the destruction of the Jewish state. Our Lord points evidently to the destruction of the earthly economy, which shall be followed by the appearance of a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:8-14) and gives assurance therewith that even then, when an entirely new order of things shall have come in, His words, in particular the promises of His coming, then first fully understood and fulfilled, would not cease to remain words of life for all His own.—Van Oosterzee.
“My words shall not pass away.”—The temple of the visible universe, an edifice much more firmly based than that which the disciples would fain have Jesus admire, is, for all that, less enduring than the warnings and promises of the Master who speaks to them.—Godet.
Luke 21:34. “Take heed.”—Two forms of danger.
I. Sensuality.—Which stupifies the conscience and hardens the heart.
II. Worldly cares.—Which absorb the attention, and divert it from spiritual things.
Luke 21:35. “As a snare.”—
1. Will come unexpectedly.
2. Will hold them fast for destruction.
Luke 21:36. “Watch ye therefore.”
I. The aim to be kept in view.—
1. To escape punishment, and
(2) to attain reward.
II. The means to be used.—
1. Watchfulness—to be on guard against sin and attentive to duty, and
(2) prayer—habitual communion with God.
“To stand before the Son of Man.”—
1. To be acquitted by Him as our Judges 2:0. To attend on Him as our Lord—to minister to Him and serve Him day and night in His temple.
Luke 21:37. “He was teaching.”
I. The labours of the day.—He taught constantly in the Temple
(1) in spite of opposition;
(2) though He knew that the city and nation were devoted to destruction. Some might be persuaded to flee from the wrath to come.
II. The peaceful nights.—Partly spent, perhaps, in the society of friends, and in communion with God—the noise and tumult of the city left behind.
Luke 21:38. “Came early in the morning.”—
1. The zeal of Christ in teaching awakened in many a special eagerness to hear Him.
2. The interest aroused in simple, unprejudiced minds afforded a greater testimony to the worth of His teaching than the sullen opposition and dislike of those in authority afforded against it.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 21". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent