Click here for the reading: Luke 21:25-36.
Jesus speaks of the coming destruction of the temple, warning those who hear Him to pay attention so that they would not be caught by surprise. It will be a time of great distress, heralding the beginning of the times of the Gentiles. Why should we be watchful, especially in a season like Advent? How might we be lulled to sleep in our present time, especially in ways that past generations did not know? How do the letters of Revelation 2-3, especially the letter to the church in Sardis, speak to our own situation and what it means to be watchful?
When the Son of Man comes, the world will be caught up in fear. Jesus speaks of this coming in judgment in the Old Testament language of riding on a cloud, such as Isaiah 19:1, Jeremiah 4:13, or Ezekiel 30:3. Yet the coming judgment will be a time of joy, because God’s redemption is coming near. Why does the Lord give these signs to His disciples? What is the sign given to us of His coming on the Last Day? Consider Matthew 24:36-44 and if those in the days of Noah had any sign.
When understood within the context of the destruction of Jerusalem, the confusion surrounding Matthew 21:29-33 disappears. Jesus speaks of the coming of summer, the times of the Gentiles, and not the winter, the end of all things. The fall of the city came within a generation of these words being spoken. Yet how do these words help us to understand the Last Day as well? How do these words of Christ regarding His promises and his words give us comfort in difficult situations in our lives?
The coming of the Son of Man calls for vigilance, because it will come suddenly like a trap. Drunkenness and anxiety lead to laxity. Seeking earthly pleasures make us blind to the reality of what is about to come. What kind of distractions do we struggle with? Are there things of this world which often lead astray that we do not pay attention to or do not regard as distractions? What makes these especially dangerous for us as Christians? Compare the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 and consider what makes them dangerous for the Christian.
Christ commands His disciples to stay awake and to pray for the strength to escape the coming things and to stand before Him on that day. In what ways do we stay awake for the coming of the Lord? What does it mean to have strength to escape the things which are coming, since the Last Day will come like a trap suddenly? What does it mean to have strength to stand before Christ, and how do we find this strength? What can we learn from the parables of Matthew 25 about being ready for the coming of Christ on the Last Day?