Knee Jerk Devotional: Luke 21:5-19
One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, "All this you're admiring so much—the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble."
They asked him, "Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it's about to take place?"
He said, "Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One,' or, 'The end is near.' Don't fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end."
He went on, "Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You'll think at times that the very sky is falling.
"But before any of this happens, they'll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You'll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I'll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.
"You'll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There's no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved.
We could do a deep dive on the stuff in this passage because it’s one of the harder passages in Luke about the “end times.” To be sure, I think this passage has been used and abused in ways that don’t fit what’s happening here. But, that’s not what these little daily devotionals are for. If you want to talk about the end times or second coming stuff, hit me up and let’s set up a time to chat.
Did you catch what Jesus says at the end of this passage? “Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved.”
I wonder, do I believe this? Do I believe that Jesus cares about me so deeply that “nothing of [me] will be lost”?
Isn’t it interesting the ordering of that last bit. First, he reiterates his care. Notice, it’s not necessarily his disciples that he’s speaking to here. He’s talking with “people.” Luke consistently makes it clear when Jesus is focusing his teaching on those in his inner circle and those outside the circle. Here, in this moment, this comment is directed to the masses. At the very least, this should wake us up to the reality that Jesus’ care extends beyond the “church” to the world. This is some pretty powerful stuff. Many of us under estimate the love of Christ. Here, he makes it clear the depth and scope of his love.
In light of his care he says “stay with it!” It is because we can be secure in his love and care for us that we can persevere through persecution, pain, and suffering. Hold on, not because you have to, hold on because he loves and cares for us. This is a bit of a flip in the way that we usually think or act. Typically we view relationships the other way around. Is this person faithful and loyal? Then I will love and care for them. Jesus loves and cares first and because of the love and care we are able to hold on.
Do I really believe this? I desperately want to. I want to believe that Jesus cares about all of who I am. Did you catch the totality of his care? Body, soul, right down to the hairs on your head. I really want to believe this. Much of the time, I think I do or at least try to.
The next question I wrestle with is, “If this is how Jesus loves, and I want to be like Jesus, do I love this way?” Am I willing to love and care first without the promise of reciprocation? Am I willing to risk for the sake of living like Christ? Can I put aside the questions of whether or not someone is worthy of my love and care?
The second batch of questions is harder to answer. We really like it when someone loves and cares for us without strings. But, it is a lot harder to love others like that.
How about you? Where are you in this process of growing in love? Do you recognize the love of Christ for you? Are you living the love of Christ similarly?