Luke 21, 5-11
We will save our lives if we persevere with Christ Many people have begun their plans in all areas of life with enthusiasm, they have been passionate about the cause, they have been spirited, and yet they have not come to the end of their goal successfully. Perhaps we know this from our own lives. Why does it happen? It’s not enough to just start, but you also need to persevere. Not to be discouraged, not to be discouraged, not to be seduced. All the more so when it comes to something so significant and important for our life, such as our eternal life, the salvation of our soul, the eternal encounter with Jesus. Because we are weak human beings, the Lord Jesus Himself wants to instruct us to persevere in the journey He has begun, as He counsels us in today’s Gospel: “Beware lest you be deceived. For many will come and speak in my name: That time is at hand. Do not follow them!” (Lk 21:8). Let us look at the text of the Gospel in more detail. A group of people gathered around the Lord Jesus, admiring the beauty of the Temple of Jerusalem. The architecture of the temple and the sacrifices that took place in the temple filled them with a kind of contentment. The Jerusalem Temple is the work of an entire nation, a reminder of their faithfulness as well as the protection of the Most High God. This gives the Jews self-confidence. And this is where the Lord Jesus speaks to us: “The days will come when not one stone will be left upon another of what you see; all will be destroyed” (Lk 21:5). We can imagine the concern that followed these words among those present. The temple was to be destroyed and what about the protection of the Most High God? What about the pledges of allegiance to the prophets? In light of this, curiosity and fear grow in intensity, and so they ask, “Teacher, when will it be, and what will be the sign when it begins to happen?” (Luke 21:7) This is a serious curiosity. It is necessary to prepare for this, to prevent the catastrophe, or not to be surprised by it. We see, however, that the Jews believe more in the temple than in the presence of God. They fear for their temple, they fear that it will be destroyed. Let us think whether we do not hear such similar alarmist messages even today. The church will be destroyed! We see various actions arising in groups that want to hurry to help the Church. We see something similar with the Jews who want to save the temple. Even today some believers want to save the Church and its tradition. In doing so, they do not realize that it is not they who save the Church, but that the Church saves them and they can be saved in her. If the Lord Jesus had told us that the Church would cease to exist, surely some would have rejoiced greatly, others would have remained indifferent, but there would also have been many who would have worried as they would have been influenced by various truths. After the questions, which we understood well, Jesus takes the floor. He does not speak of the time when the destruction of the sanctuary will take place and what events will precede it. Let us recall that the Lord Jesus never answered questions just to satisfy human curiosity or to appease human restlessness. The Lord Jesus helps those who pay attention to this to remain content, to take note of this fact, and thus actually warns them of the dangers or difficulties. Immediately afterwards, however, He points out how to live rightly. Above all, he warns of the dangers of false prophets. For at that time, because of the turmoil, people begin to look around them for someone to satisfy them. The Lord Jesus warns them against the “miracle explainers” of that time. He warns them against those who will distort the facts and who will identify faith with economic or even political matters. Do we not often hear disturbing words too? Believers are obliged to belong to the left! What is to be understood by this? The Lord Jesus says: Do not follow them! Do not call anyone Father, Teacher or Lord. For it is hard to trust anyone else to decide what God wants of us. The Lord Jesus trusts that everything He says will become clear and understandable to us. Immediately afterwards, the Lord Jesus warns against false alarms about the end of the world, because such talk is quickly believed. The mention of great earthquakes, famines, various terrors, and of great signs in the heavens is a precaution so that the one who has believed Christ’s words will not be alarmed when any of these words come to pass. In these events it must not yet be thought that the end of the world has already come. The various false reports have a bad effect on man’s behaviour. Often under their pressure man commits follies and indiscretions. Such alarmist messages bring about various changes in the world, but they should not touch our inner being. The news of the end of the world causes man to decline, as if he had ceased to be himself. Think of the Jehovah’s Witness sect. This sect has “known” exactly when the world is going to end many times. On the appointed day they waited ready in white sheets. It seems ridiculous, but when one considers it, it is painful how some circles of people can strip other people of their humanity with their prophecies. We have to realise that all these false prophecies about the end of the world that are being spread by various cultists are harmful. Such prophecies lead to indifference and slowly but surely to apostasy from God. Thus, all this has an unwholesome effect on the inner being of the believer. These false prophets thus attack the most precious thing, that which is in us from God. And this is what the Lord Jesus is talking about in the next section when He emphasizes that the real conflict is within us, in our inner struggle with evil reactions as well as with other people. Everyone is subject to unrighteousness, to aggression from others, especially those who hold various ranks and positions. “But before all this they will lay hands on you and persecute you, they will deliver you over to the synagogues and imprison you, they will drag you before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. These things will happen to you, that you may bear witness” (Luke 21:12). Here one realises that one may become the object of others, often those dearest to one’s heart, seeking to harm one: ‘They will also betray your parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and will take the lives of some of you’ (Lk 21:16). Therefore, everyone can encounter opposition, often even outright malice. Everyone can therefore feel lonely even within the circle of his own family, and yet feel within himself that he cannot trust anyone. He is convinced that they are encroaching on his freedom, that they are exerting a strong pressure on him, and therefore he will strive all the more to free himself from them. That inner struggle has actually been provoked by the opinion of other people, which hides a certain thing, namely, that the sanctuary is being torn down and the dwelling place of God is being built up. It must be remembered that one must not resort to self-defence, nor seek for victorious weapons, for that would be personal revenge. To respond with aggression to aggression is a notion that does not match the spirit of the Gospel. The believer is not defending himself, but witnessing in a different way, that is, pointing to the presence of the living God by his behavior and words. Otherwise, man is helping God for his own ends. When man ceases to think of himself, then God unites Himself with His sacrifice and gives him “eloquence and wisdom” which your adversaries will not be able to resist or contradict.
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