The Gospel of Luke - Part 87
Living in the Light of the Last Times;
Be Generous, Be Careful — Luke 21:1-6

July 8, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


We are in Luke Chapter 21, at the point in the life of Jesus that he only has two or three days left to teach the disciples everything that they need to know before he is crucified. The time is short.  The majority of this chapter has to do with Jesus talking about the “end times”. But the focus is not just on information. Jesus’ message is that a right understanding of the end times should translate into right living right now!

Last week defined the terms so we were all using them the same.  We defined the rapture. (It is not what happens when you lift something that is too heavy.)

The Rapture — refers to when Jesus will appear in the sky and all believers will be “caught up” with Him. The primary passage on the Rapture in Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. —1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
This event is distinct from the Second Coming.

The Tribulation — a seven-year period of intense suffering and supernatural events that occurs after the Rapture and before the Second Coming of Christ. The prophetic passages in Revelation focus primarily on the events of the Tribulation.

The Second Coming — the time when Jesus will physically return to earth and establish His rule on earth. The Lord will rule for a thousand years before a final great conflict with Satan and his forces. After that, Satan will be finally and completely defeated. So let’s get started into the text of Luke Chapter 21.

Be Generous:

The opening of Chapter 21 ties into the end of Chapter 20, where we read:

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” —Luke 20:45-47
Then Chapter 21 opens with:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” —Luke 21:1-4
What are some things we learn about the rich people? What are some things we learn about the widow?
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box... —Luke 21:1
The Life Application Bible Notes tell us that “Jesus was probably in the area of the temple called the Court of Women. The treasury was located there or in an adjoining walkway. In this area were seven boxes in which worshipers could deposit their temple tax and six boxes for freewill offerings like the one this woman gave.” [Life Application Bible Notes]

There are some great principles related to our finances and our giving in this passage. Think about the situation from the disciples' point of view. Imagine the impact Jesus' words had on them as they saw this widow and heard what Jesus said.

God knows and cares about our giving.

Jesus took time to watch people bring their gifts to the temple. He watched the rich and the poor. Why did Jesus watch? Jesus watched because He knows that what we do with our money says a lot about what really matters to us. God knows how much you do give and He also knows how much you could give if you really wanted to. Why do you think it matters to the Lord what you do with your money?

We need to understand that our giving matters to God. It's important to Him, not because He needs our money (He doesn't!) but because of what it says about our heart. The Bible clearly teaches that God sees and knows all that we do:

The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. —Psalm 33:13-15

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. —Hebrews 4:13
It's good for everyone to give.

Jesus' response to this poor widow is very significant. Now He could have gone over to her and stopped her from giving or given her coins back to her. But He didn't do that. God didn't need her money but she needed to give.

Why do you think it is good for everyone to give? The benefits she gained from giving far outweighed what she might have purchased with that money. What are some benefits/blessings that come from giving?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us that in verse 2, the "two copper coins" are "lepta", "each worth about 1/8 of a cent". It took 128 lepta to equal 1 denarius and a denarius was the equivalent of a day's wages. What she gave was a very small amount monetarily but a great deal to her - "all she had to live on". Can you imagine giving all you had to live on to God?  The sad truth is that even today those who have less give a greater percentage of their total income than those who have more: Poorer Americans give a greater percentage of their income to charity. In 1998, those who: The spirit of sacrificial giving is found repeatedly in the New Testament churches:
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. —Acts 2:44-45

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. —Acts 4:34

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. —2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Sadly, sacrificial giving does not characterize many Christians today. Many Christians want to know how much they have to give. Probably one of the reasons there is so little said about tithing in the New Testament is because so many believers gave so much more than a tithe!

Sir Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give".

In "Run with the Horses", Eugene Peterson tells how he saw a family of birds teaching their young to fly. After watching the young birds learn to fly, Peterson shared these thoughts: "Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have talons and can grasp a branch securely. They can walk; they can cling. But flying is their characteristic action, and not until they fly are they living at their best, gracefully and beautifully. "Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth . . . Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves, to live for ourselves. We look so bedraggled and pathetic doing it, hanging on to the dead branch of a bank account for dear life, afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving. We don't think we can live generously because we have never tried. But the sooner we start, the better, for we are going to have to give up our lives finally, and the longer we wait, the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace." [Eugene Peterson]

Is your giving more like that of the rich people or the poor widow in this story?  What does your giving say about your devotion to God, your commitment to His work in the world?

Be Careful:

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “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.” —'Luke 21:5-6
Let’s talk about the Temple.  Matthew 24 and Mark 13 record this same conversation between the disciples and Jesus, adding information to the Luke account:
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” Mark 14:1
The temple in Jerusalem was considered one of the great wonders of the Roman world. This was not Solomon’s temple which had been destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar (along with the rest of Jerusalem) in 587-586 BC. The book of Ezra records the re-building of the temple 70 years later. This temple would endure for over 500 years, still standing at the time of Jesus.

However, what made it one of the wonders of the ancient world was a major renovation and expansion by Herod the Great. This renovation/expansion began around 20 BC and had been going on for 46 years by the time of Jesus.

The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” —John 2:20
This magnificent building project would finally be finished in about 63 AD, just seven years before it would be completely destroyed by the Romans. The Jews would rebel against Rome in 66 AD. By 70 AD, the Roman armies would crush all Jewish resistance, destroying Jerusalem and the temple, and eliminating Israel as a nation.

The temple was central to the faith of the Jews. It's difficult if not impossible for us as Gentiles living in the 20th century to understand what the temple meant to these Jews living in the first century. The temple was not only a place of worship, it was the place where God dwelt among His people. The temple was the epicenter of Jewish faith.

The Temple is the focus of many New Testament events:

Maybe Jesus said what He did in Luke 21:6 because He didn't want the disciples' faith to be too centered on the temple, too dependent on worshiping there. The destruction of the temple was a tragedy, but it was something God used to keep Christians from having their devotion to God too focused on it.

Remember, too, that Jesus also taught that the temple would one day be unnecessary for the worship of God. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father ... But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. —John 4:21,23
In verses 5-6, Jesus amplifies what He told His disciples in Luke 19:41-44.
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” —Luke 19:41-44
In Luke 19, He spoke of the destruction of the city; here He speaks of the destruction of the temple. This event would occur within the lifetime of many of His disciples. In 70 AD, the Roman army conquered Jerusalem and totally destroyed the temple. It has never been rebuilt since that destruction took place over 1900 years ago.