Christmas to Calvary — December 21

A Poor Widow’s Offering

And he looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the contribution box, and he saw a certain poor widow putting in there two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all of them. For these all put gifts into the offering out of their abundance, but this woman out of her poverty put in all the means of subsistence that she had.”

The Destruction of the Temple Predicted

And while some were speaking about the temple, that it was adorned with precious stones and votive offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see—days will come in which not one stone will be left on another stone that will not be thrown down!”

Signs of the End of the Age

And they asked him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “Watch out that you are not deceived! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them! And when you hear about wars and insurrections, do not be terrified, for these things must happen first, but the end will not be at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and famines and plagues in various places. There will be terrible sights and great signs from heaven.

Persecution of Disciples Predicted

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will turn out to you for a time of witness. Therefore make up your minds not to prepare in advance to speak in your own defense, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom that all your opponents will not be able to resist or contradict. And you will be handed over even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put to death some of you. And you will be hated by all because of my name. Even a hair of your head will never perish! By your patient endurance you will gain your lives.

The Desolation of Jerusalem

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside it must depart, and those in the fields must not enter into it, because these are days of vengeance, so that all the things that are written can be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Arrival of the Son of Man

“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity from the noise of the sea and its surging, people fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!”

The Parable of the Fig Tree

And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they put out foliage, now you see for yourselves and know that by this time the summer is near. So also you, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you that this generation will never pass away until all things take place! Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Be Alert

“But take care for yourselves, lest your hearts are weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of daily life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who reside on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

So throughout the days he was teaching in the temple courts, and throughout the nights he was going out and spending the night on the hill that is called the Mount of Olives. And all the people were getting up very early in the morning to come to him in the temple courts to listen to him.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What comes to mind when you think about the end of the world? Is the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus an encouraging idea to you? Why or why not?

  • Jesus gives His disciples several things to focus on or do as they wait for the end and His return. Which of those things seem most necessary to your life right now? Why?

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