Jesus, Son of God, came into the world as the Messiah of God’s people, a Saviour King. But much of what He said while here was spoken as a prophet, in line with Isaiah, Daniel and others in the Old Testament. He preached that people should turn from sin and submit to God. He promised blessing in God’s kingdom but also warned of trouble and sorrow in the short term as people reject their Maker, His standards, His truth and His grace.
Here in Luke 21, just days before His crucifixion Jesus solemnly predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and its beautiful Temple. It would seem like the end of the world, the nation’s capitol destroyed, its treasures looted, the people massacred or scattered. And it happened just like he said. History records how in AD70 the Romans moved in to quell a revolt and ruthlessly demolished everything.
But the Lord seemed to be speaking about more than this one historic event on this occasion and we do well to pay close attention.
Israel as a nation would be humbled for an unspecified period because they largely rejected their Messiah. Instead, ‘Gentiles’, people of non-Jewish background would flourish, not least as the Gospel was welcomed and followers of Jesus become such a global phenomenon. He continues to build His Church worldwide to this day as Christians bear testimony to Him!
And yet He foretold that this would happen against a backdrop of human conflict and natural disaster. Wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, we’ve seen them all in this past year. He even predicted accurately the dreadful anxiety that grips our current world.
And yet far from repenting and seeking mercy from God, many human beings continue, defiant in sinful pride, even persecuting those who try to share the light of Christ! Hundreds of years have been like one long generation of recurring wickedness. In loving concern our Master sought to prepare us ahead of time for how things would be.
The encouraging thing is the assurance of this chapter that the end of the world will not come through human conflict or environmental cataclysm. This present age will conclude with our Lord’s return in glory to judge evil and gather His people to Himself.
As we enter a new year, Christians should be ‘looking up’ in anticipation for His visible coming in the clouds, the fulfilment of God’s kingdom, the dawning of a new age of resurrection and eternal life in which God makes all things new.
God will keep the promises He has made through His prophets from Genesis to Revelation. His people will include those He has redeemed from the Jewish nation but some from every other nation too, united in peace under one King Jesus. Together we will be welcomed into the heavenly Jerusalem, a place of healing and restoration.
The meantime will certainly be challenging but Jesus promises His obedient followers the help that we need.
Now if Jesus is God the Son and these words of His are true they must surely have a bearing on how we begin and live this new year of 2024. Let us seek to be people who trust in Jesus and live to share His light, watching for the day of His return!