Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings- But the Temple had been polluted, by Herod, by the Pharisees, and had nothing to do with purifying your heart for God. There will not be left here one stone upon the other- The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, by the Romans at the end of the Jewish revolt. It was 40 years after crucifixation and acension of Christ. It is argued that none of Gospels could have been written any later then that, as none of them mention the Temple’s Destruction as fulfillment of the prophecy. This is relevant to the skeptics who have estimated the gospel to have been written after 100 AD. Christians had become the temple of God.
As he sat on the Mount of olives opposite the temple– This is a moving image, of Jesus sitting, overlooking Jereusalem and the Temple. Peter, John, James, and Andrew asked him privately– This is an intimate moment, a quiet one that is rarely found. These four were closest to Christ, the first four called. There are no crowds around them, and they take this moment to reflect on what Jesus has said. Quiet moments spent with Jesus are the most revealing- when we can sit with him and reflect on his words and promises.
Tell us, when will these things be– When will the Jerusalem be destroyed? And what will be the sign when all these things are accomplished?– When is the end of times? Two seperate questions. If not read carefully, the words that follow can be confusing. Jesus was concerned with the duties and faith of the disciples. It was obviously distressing to hear this prophecy.
Keep Your Faith
See that no one leads you astray- False messiahs come and go, and have come and gone. Mohammed, founder of Islam, was such a prophet. In modern days, claims to be the returned Christ are not unheard of. We must be on guard, as the disciples were, not to follow the the false leaders. The apostle Paul was very stringent on this matter. And when you hear of wars, do not be alarmed- Famines, earthquakes, wars-these things must and will happen. Worldly suffering will continue but these are the beginnings. These worldy sufferings occur and will continue to independent of the end tribulation. Therefore, do not dwell on them, but remember to trust in God, and focus on the task which has been assigned to you.
Be a Testimony Unto Jesus
But be on your guard- Because you will be persecuted, but in all this, guard your heart, be strong in your faith. They will deliver you to councils and you will be beaten in synagogues- The disciples specifically will suffer at the hands of the Jews, and then at the hands of rulers and kings. Christ suffered the same way. He was persecuted by the chief Priests, crucified by the Romans- a religious trial and civil trial. The Holy Spirit would guide them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations- First, as our priority, before all else the gospel must be proclaimed, for which the disciples would be persecuted. But the one who endures to the end will be saved- To the end of their life, or end of time, whatever comes first. While Jesus spoke specifically to the four here, his words are applicable to us, as commissioned to spread his word, and endure the persecutions it brings us, without compromising our faith.
The abomination that causes desolation– (a reference to the book of Daniel, 9:27). The next verses refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, as it mentions Judea, and fleeing from the area. He worries for the women who are pregnant and hopes it does not occur in winter. After describing these things, he says, the Lord will shorten the days of this tribulation for the sake of his elect. He then says, “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.” That is, the destruction of the Temple/Jerusalem and the coming of Christ do not occur at the same time. Jesus gives some signs of the end times here- the darkened sun, the moon will not give light, the stars fall from heaven- these could be actual signs or they could be metaphors that suggest that the true signs of the end will be impossible to miss. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory– Daniel 7:13. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened– This has always been a difficult verse. It seems to imply that Jesus would return while these disciples were still alive, and some of his disciples believed that. There are different ways to remedy this: 1. Some disciples would have witnessed all this, save the return of Jesus. Jesus may not have been including his return in this statement, only the persecution of Christians and Destruction of Jerusalem. 2. By “generation”, Jesus meant the race of Jews, not just the people living at the time. 3. Witnessing the Son of Man includes his rise from the dead, his transfiguration, or his ascension. I prefer to think He meant that the generation would witness his prophecies of the coming tribulation to Jerusalem. As He said he did not know the time or hour he would return, it would not make sense for him to suggest any time frame. He gives no specifics, as to complete his lesson, to always have your heart prepared. Our attitude should be to guard our hearts, and our task to spread the gospel.