Comfort can lull us into complacency. A winning team chokes and gets defeated by a lesser team. A company becomes successful and then begins its decline. Stagnancy is bred in the waters of success. Jesus addresses the comfort of those admiring the beautiful temple with its noble stones and offerings. How do we prevent the comfort from lulling us into complacency? In Luke 21:5–19, Jesus call us to understand our times without fear to witness with endurance in the face of great persecution.
First, we understand our times (Luke 21:5–8). When the people admire the beautiful Herodian temple, Jesus prevents them from being lulled into complacency by speaking of its imminent destruction (21:5–6). They must not be seduced by success and fail to see the destruction that is on the horizon. Similarly we must remember that the higher we climb, the farther we fall. Pride, indeed, goes beyond destruction. Within many of the lifetime of those who heard the words of Jesus, that beautiful temple would be destroyed by the Roman army.
Nevertheless, we live without fear in the face of such destruction (Luke 21:9–11). Just as our confidence does not come from our comfort, so we should we not fear even in the face of destruction. Jesus has just called the people to live by faith because of the resurrection (Luke 20:38), and the destruction of the temple was not a triumph of God’s enemies but rather a judgment by God himself. Similarly when we live by faith, we are not terrified by destruction because we understand God’s larger purposes.
As a result, we witness in the face of persecution (Luke 21:12–15). When we see persecution, we do not despair but know that “this will be our opportunity to bear witness” (21:13). Persecution does not mean that our enemy triumphs, but persecution provides a springboard for witness. Throughout Acts, the apostles witness before the leaders of Jerusalem, the temple and the Roman empire because of persecution. Similarly when comfort is not our goal, we do not despair in the face of persecution but we see the opportunity to witness.
Finally, we witness with endurance in the face of opposition (Luke 21:16–18). We should not be surprised by rejection and opposition. We can be too easily offended, but we must remember that the gospel is offensive. Yet in the face of opposition, we endure, knowing that by your endurance you will gain your lives (21:18). Perseverance is not optional.
We live in the midst of great abundance. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency by comfort, but we must understand our times without fear to witness with endurance even in the face of great challenge. May we rise up, knowing the time in which we live.