Above All, Treasure the Words of Jesus


Luke 21:5–36

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Consider This

This text is as complex as it is controversial with all its prophesy of both the near-term collapse of Jerusalem and the end-of-time second coming of Jesus. There has been much written on the subject and likely a lot more to come. Jerusalem did fall in AD 70 and the temple with it. We have no idea of when the end of the age will come, other than to be assured it will come like a thief in the night.

There is a word tucked into the passage I want to lift out for our focus today. It is a word for right now.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

It is reminiscent of the prophecy of Isaiah: “The grass withers, the flowers fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8 ESV).

It calls to mind the illuminating word of the psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105 KJV).

These words of Jesus call to mind the delight of Jeremiah when he said: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (Jer. 15:16).

As we wind our way along the descending way of the cross, we can be sure of this: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Jesus never wrote a book, yet his words hold more significance and power than all the books ever written put together.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

His words are true, trustworthy, and transformational. They are medicinal and miraculous.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Again, the psalmist reminds us:

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb. (Ps. 19:10 ESV)

We must, however, hearken back to the word with which we began; the one we heard from the mouth of God on the Mount of Transfiguration: “A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him’” (Luke 9:35).

The direction of our life will be determined by the depth of our listening to Jesus. As we approach the cross, let us labor to listen more deeply than ever before.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

The Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.

The Question

What keeps you from listening at the deepest level to the words of Jesus? What will help you to this end?