Jerusalem will disintegrate
Widow with money1At the Temple, Jesus watched rich people dropping donations into an offering plate. 2Along came a widow with two cents to her name. She dropped both coins into the offering.
3Jesus said, “I’m telling you the truth, this poor widow has poured more into that offering than all the others combined. 4Those rich people are pulling from their discretionary income to make the donation. But this woman who has nothing but a basket full of neediness and two cents to her name has given all the money she has.”
Jesus tells the future5Some people were talking about the Temple. They said the stones used to build the worship center were beautiful, and handsomely accented by gifts people brought to honor God. Jesus said, 6“Take a look at all of this. The time is coming when not one of these stones will be left sitting on top of the other. They will all be ripped down.”
7The people asked him, “Teacher, when is this going to happen? And what clues will we get that the time is almost here?"
8He said, “Don’t let anyone mislead you. Many people are going to come claiming to be me. They’re going to say, ‘Here I am, your Messiah! The time has finally come.’ Don’t you be following someone like that. 9When you hear news about wars and revolutions, don’t be afraid. These things are going to happen first. But the terrible thing I’m talking about will come later.” 10Then he said, “One country will go to war against another, one kingdom against another.
11Earthquakes will shake the ground. Famines and plagues are coming, too. You will see terrifying events and you’ll witness remarkable scenes in the sky. 12But before any of this happens, those of you who follow me and are linked to my name will be persecuted, arrested, and handed over for trial by synagogue leaders and even by governors and kings.
13I want you to know something. This will be your opportunity to tell people about what I’ve been teaching you. 14When this happens, I know you’ll want to work up a script about what to say in your defense after you get arrested. Don’t do that.
15The words you speak are going to come from me. I will put the wisdom in your mind and the words in your mouth. No prosecutor will be able to refute what you have to say. 16Some of you will be turned over to the authorities by your parents, your brothers, or other relatives and friends. You need to know this: some of you will be executed. 17You will be hated by everyone around you because you have linked yourself to my name. 18But not a hair from your head is going to get destroyed. 19Your unshakable loyalty will win you a prize: eternal life.
20The next time you see an army surround Jerusalem, that’s your sign. That’s when you’ll know the city is about to get decimated. 21Those of you who are anywhere near the city—anywhere in the region of Judea—you’ll need to run to the mountains. Those of you inside the city will need to evacuate immediately. And if you’re living in the countryside, don’t go anywhere near the city. 22The prophets wrote about the coming days of punishment. These are those days. The predictions will come true.
23How incredibly tragic this is going to be for pregnant women and for mothers nursing their babies. Everyone in the land is going to suffer, and people will grow to hate the Jerusalem Jews. 24People will die, slaughtered by swords. Others will be taken captive and sent away as slaves to other countries. The city itself will be torn down by people who are not Jews. The city will stay that way until those non-Jewish people eventually lose their power and influence.
25You will see unusual activity in the sky, with the sun, moon, and stars. You’ll see signs on the ground, too. The sea will roar and surge, confusing and terrifying countries throughout the world. 26People, terrified about what’s going to happen all over the world, will get so worked up that some of them will pass out. Heaven’s power will be unleashed.
27That’s when the Son of Humans will come, descending through the clouds in a powerful and glorious entrance. 28When you see these things happening, stand up boldly and hold your heads up high, for you are about to get rescued.”
The sign of the fig tree leaves29After that, Jesus told them a parable. “Take a look at the fig tree, or any tree, for that matter. 30When they pop out their leaves, you know summer is almost here.
31In the same way, when you see the events I’ve been describing, you can count on this: God’s Kingdom is coming soon. 32I’m telling you the truth, this generation of human beings will live to see everything I’ve described.
33The earth and everything in the sky will die someday. But my words will live forever. 34Don’t get distracted by the worries of everyday life or parties and too much drinking. You don’t want that day to catch you by surprise.
35When that day comes, it’s going to come for everyone. 36So stay alert. And pray that you’re strong enough to escape these terrible things that are going to happen, so you can one day stand before the Son of Humans.” 37During the day, Jesus taught at the Temple. But he spent his nights on the ridge of hills called the Mount of Olives. 38At daylight every morning crowds met him at the Temple to hear what he had to say.
She had two lepta, which were the Jewish coins with the least value, comparable to a penny or the one-cent euro coin.
The more literal word is “souls.”
Usually translated Son of Man. See note 5:24.
The Roman army crushed a Jewish rebellion and leveled Jerusalem about 40 years later, in A.D. 70.
When Jesus saw a poor widow giving her last two coins into the Temple offering, he told his disciples, “This woman who has nothing but a basket full of neediness and two cents to her name has given all the money she has” (21:4). Why do you think the woman did something like that?
Bible experts say they see two different scenes in these prophecies of Jesus (21:5-28). In some cases, they see the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, when Romans crushed a Jewish rebellion and leveled the city of Jerusalem. Others say they see references to the Second Coming. What are some of the quotes you see in here that seem to track nicely with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? And what lines seem to point to something beyond that event?
Jesus said there was a “terrible thing” (21:9) that was going to come later, after “news about wars and revolutions” (21:9). What terrible things do you think he was talking about? Was he talking about the “earthquakes….and plagues” (21:11)? Or do you think he was talking about something else?
Jesus said the people would see “terrifying events and… remarkable scenes in the sky” (21:11). What are some scenes that would qualify during the Roman army’s attack on Jerusalem? What are some scenes that would qualify today?
How could Jesus, in one breath, say “some of you will be executed” (21:16), and in the next breath say “But not a hair from your head is going to get destroyed” (21:18)?
Jesus says that there is coming a day “when the Son of Humans will come, descending through the clouds in a powerful and glorious entrance” (21:27). Many preachers have gotten rich by writing books and hosting TV shows that focus on end times and the Second Coming. How much time and energy do you think Christians should give to studying and talking about these prophesied events?
Jesus said, “I’m telling you the truth, this generation of human beings will live to see everything I’ve described” (21:32). Does this suggest to you that everything Jesus said in this section about future events was about the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? Or was he talking about the Second Coming and he was mistaken about the timing—which is a position some religion scholars take?
LIFE APPLICATION. When Jesus commended the widow for donating to the Temple “all the money she has” (21:4), do you think he was encouraging people to give everything they have to the worship center? If not, what message do you think he was trying to convey?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said that some of his followers would be arrested and tried “by synagogue leaders and even by governors and kings” (21:12). He said this would be their opportunity “to tell people about what I’ve been teaching you” (21:13). When we go through stressful situations, what are some of the other ways we reveal to others a glimpse of our Christian faith?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told his followers “some of you will be executed” (21:16). Christians in recent times have been executed by extremist groups who ordered Christians to either convert to another faith or die. Imagine one of the people you love most being put in that situation and converting. Would you think less of that person? Do you think God would think less of that person?