5 Some of the disciples were talking about the Temple, how beautiful it looked with its fine stones and the gifts offered to God. Jesus said,
6 “All this you see – the time will come when not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will this be? And what will happen in order to show that the time has come for it to take place?”
8 Jesus said, “Be on guard; don’t be deceived. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am he!’ and ‘The time has come!’ But don’t follow them.
9 Don’t be afraid when you hear of wars and revolutions; such things must happen first, but they do not mean that the end is near.”
10 He went on to say, “Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another.
11 There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and plagues everywhere; there will be strange and terrifying things coming from the sky.
12 Before all these things take place, however, you will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake.
13 This will be your chance to tell the Good News.
14 Make up your minds beforehand not to worry about how you will defend yourselves,
15 because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say.
16 You will be handed over by your parents, your brothers, your relatives, and your friends; and some of you will be put to death.
17 Everyone will hate you because of me.
18 But not a single hair from your heads will be lost.
19 Stand firm, and you will save yourselves.”
Other readings: Malachi 3:19-20; Psalm 98:5-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
This is Luke’s version of Jesus’s end of the world (or apocalyptic) teaching. We find similar passages in Matthew and Mark. But each writer emphasises different aspects of Jesus’s teaching according to the needs of their particular community.
Luke writes to those living away from Palestine. It was a time of war with Rome. Luke probably wrote his Gospel after Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. This part of Jesus’s prophetic words would therefore already have been fulfilled when the early Christians read Luke’s account.
In addition to prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the persecution of the early Christian Church, Jesus also makes a link to the end of the world (verses 10-11, 25-36). So his warnings remain equally important for us today. When persecution comes because of our faith, don’t be surprised. Jesus has warned us in advance that persecution is to be expected.
And if persecution comes knocking at our door we need to stand firm. We must endure, remain patient and stand firm. God is still with us even if family or friends reject or betray us.
Luke knew about the reality of persecution. By the time he wrote his Gospel Peter and Paul had been killed as had many other Christians.
Jesus’s words are a reminder that persecution happens and takes many forms. It is a practical fact in many parts of the world today.
Some Christians are driven from their homes, their jobs and some lose their lives. The message is still the same: stand firm, God loves you and will not abandon you.
What types of persecution have you experienced because of your faith? Perhaps you have been insulted, embarrassed or ridiculed. How do you react in these situations? What did you say or do? How did you bear witness to Jesus?
Pray that God will give you the courage and strength to stand firm in the face of any persecution that might come your way so that you bear a good witness to God.
Pray for Christians living in countries where persecution is severe. Pray for those who are in prison because of their faith or who have been rejected by their families.
“… sing together with joy before the Lord, because he comes to rule the earth. He will rule the peoples of the world with justice and fairness” (Psalm 98:8b-9).
Read the rest of Psalm 98 and spend some time reflecting on God’s mighty power and justice.
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