Sermon Follow Up - Week 31, 2021
Sometimes when we think about Scripture’s description of the end, we think that we as God’s people are going to get swept up in this fireball of God’s judgment on the earth. As if he’s going to lay waste to it all and somehow forget about us in the process. The truth is that even if we live in these last days where wars and persecutions are going on and we lose our lives in the process… that doesn’t mean we are hopeless… In fact, that means our redemption is close! We’re not meant to be terrified because we’re the only people on this planet who know that there's salvation ahead. Anticipating that Jesus will return to save you will enable you to endure... until he comes.
"5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothersa]">[a] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him." (Luke 21:5–38 ESV)
Anticipating that Jesus will return to save you prepares you to endure in faith until he comes.
SUBPOINTS AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Keep Following Jesus (21:5-19)
Two things may derail us from following Christ and continuing to renounce everything for the sake of his glory: the possibility of being led astray and the possiblity of being hurt because of our faith. In either case, Jesus calls us to trust and rely on him alone knowing that we will be opposed and lied to in these last days. Even when we are tempted to be terrified, we must remind ourselves and one another, "Jesus told me this would happen. Jesus gave me a heads up. And when I see these things he told me to be on the lookout and to not be afraid."
Even in the face of persecution and death, Christians can endure all the way through. “From the perspective of eternity, the loss of one’s earthly life is no greater than the loss of a single hair.” (James Edwards). By your endurance, you will gain your lives. By continuing to follow Jesus you will gain what cannot be lost which is eternal life.
-What causes you to be terrified about the time to come?
-What sort of people should you be on the lookout for that could lead you astray?
-How might you expect to be "hated" for bearing Christ's name and proclaiming his good news? Does thinking about this change how you'd approach being hated by others.
2. Listen to what Jesus Says and Anticipate its Fulfilment (21:20-28)
Listening to what Jesus has said about his coming requires action. We can listen to what Jesus is saying about persecution, about the end, about his coming and put this into practice by believing it and applying it or we can put it off…and be caught off guard like whoever else didn’t take him seriously. That's not worth gambling on. As Christians, we take Jesus' words seriously to the point where we will believe them even if the whole world said otherwise (see Romans 3:4).
Jesus will come with unmistakable power and glory. He will come as the Son of Man who has been given all authority from the Ancient of Days. For the Christian, this means final salvation and what we've longed to happen. Why? Because Jesus returns in order to save you. Hebrews 9:27-28says this, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” He came the first time to bear the sins of many and atone for them. But he’s not coming to do that again.. what’s he coming a second time for? He’s coming a second time to SAVE you! HE'S COMING TO SAVE YOU. So when he says "lift up your heads" it's because your Savior is coming. Your redemption is drawing near. That's how we can face those coming moments without the fear that the world will have when they see the glorious Son of Man.
-What do you feel is the biggest barrier to you anticipating the coming of Jesus?
-What do you think would change if you began asking the Holy Spirit to give you faith to trust what Jesus is saying about the future?
3. Stay Alert to His Coming (21:29-38)
The certainty of Christ's coming requires alerness. Like the servants who watch the house but are prepared for the Master to come home or the women whose lamps stay well-fueled as they prepare for the bridegroom to arrive.
“...We cannot simply drift through life without thinking seriously about the end of the world. The decision we make about Jesus Christ now determines where we will end up for all eternity. This is a matter of spiritual life and death. So every time Jesus talked about the end of the world, he always gave his disciples the same practical advice to get ready for it now, before the time comes. Jesus did not give us signs of the coming judgment so we could chart the future, but to exhort us to practice what J. C. Ryle described as “perpetual preparedness.” Are you ready for the end of the world?”- Philip Ryken
That day will come suddenly so stay awake. Pray so that you may have strength and may not be lulled to sleep. We want the bridegroom to find us with lamps burning ready to receive him when he comes. And the result is that we would stand before the Son of Man. We will be presented before him in righteousness. We will come face to face with our Deliverer, our Salvation, our Lord and God who is Jesus the Christ and he will welcome us into that Kingdom.
-What would help you remain alert to Christ's coming?
-What cares of this life or intoxications are threats to you keeping your heart awake to the reality that Christ is returning?
-What would it mean for you to be presented to Jesus as someone who eagerly awaited his appearing?
- Resolve, by the power of the Spirit, to trust Jesus' words even if they're difficult to grasp or seemingly far-fetched
- Consider how to infuse your day, your conversations, your thoughts with reminders that Jesus is coming so as to not follow the world's complacency.
- What would it look like to apply 1 Thessalonians 4:18 which calls us to "encourage one another with these words" about the coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, and the hope of eternal life?
Passages for Further Study:
-The Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14)
-The "Patient Endurance" of the church in Ephesus and Philadelphia
(Revelation 2:1-7; 3:7-13)
-"Set your hope fully ont he grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13-21)
Resources to Aid your Anticipation
"The Second Coming"
(The Valley of Vision)
O SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN,
Thou wast incarnate, didst suffer, rise, ascend
for my sake;
Thy departure was not a token of separation
but a pledge of return;
Thy Word, promises, sacraments, show thy death
until thou come again.
That day is no horror to me,
for thy death has redeemed me,
thy Spirit fills me,
thy love animates me,
thy Word governs me.
I have trusted thee and thou hast not betrayed
waited for thee, and not waited in vain.
Thou wilt come to raise my body from the dust,
and re-unite it to my soul,
by a wonderful work of infinite power and love,
greater than that which bounds the oceans’ waters,
ebbs and flows the tides,
keeps the stars in their courses,
and gives life to all creatures.
This corruptible shall put on incorruption,
this mortal, immortality,
this natural body, a spiritual body,
this dishonoured body, a glorious body,
this weak body, a body of power.
I triumph now in thy promises as I shall do
in their performance,
for the head cannot live if the members are dead;
Beyond the grave is resurrection, judgment,
Every event and circumstance of my life will be
dealt with —
the sins of my youth, my secret sins,
the sins of abusing thee, of disobeying thy Word,
the sins of neglecting ministers’ admonitions,
the sins of violating my conscience —
all will be judged;
And after judgment, peace and rest, life and service,
employment and enjoyment, for thine elect.
O God, keep me in this faith,
and ever looking for Christ’s return.
"How Soon Will Jesus Return?: Living in the Last Days"
This article has helpful and practical insights from author Jon Bloom on how to live with our eyes trained to trust the Word of God and look ahead to Jesus' coming.