Connections 11.28.2021: Ready and Alert

Luke 21:25-36

Here at the beginning of Advent season, we’re getting excited about Christmas. The Thanksgiving festivities are over, the family’s gone back home, and we’ll be eating leftover turkey for a week, but that’s okay because Christmas is coming! We’re used to reading certain parts of the Bible at this time of year, like the angel telling old Zechariah that he’ll be a father or telling young Mary about her special task of being Jesus’ mother. We have visions of shepherds and wise men dancing in our heads.

But today’s passage fast-forwards through the familiar Christmas scenes. Luke tells us, “Every day [Jesus] was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives…. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple” (21:37-38). Maybe this audience of listeners can sense something different in Jesus—a new urgency as he uses every waking moment to teach them about the kingdom of God. He is days away from his death, and he knows it.

This isn’t the sweet little baby in the manger, surrounded by animals and adored by his loving parents. This is the world-hardened, heartbroken, exhausted man, yearning for the people to understand why he came and how much God loves them. In verses 25-36, Jesus tells them there’s much more to life with God than this world they live in. He pleads with them to shift their focus from the everyday routine to the end of the earth and the eternal life to come. He urges them to be ready, to be on guard and alert, to pray for strength.

We can hear Jesus’ desperation in his words. He must be so weary, spending his days teaching and his nights on the mountain, likely in prayer. Can he even sleep? So many things are running through his mind as he walks these final days on earth. This isn’t the slow path to Advent; this is the breathless sprint to eternity.

And yet here we are, more than 2,000 years after Jesus spoke these words, and what he says in these verses hasn’t fully come to pass. We are still in the urgent waiting time, and sometimes it feels as though Jesus will never return. So Advent is about waiting in fervent hope. We know the Christ child will be in the manger on Christmas day. We can also know that Jesus will fulfill his long-ago promise and return one day to gather us up. In the meantime, we must wait with alertness, living in the ways Jesus taught and being ready.

Discussion

• Why might it be helpful to start our Advent season at the end of Jesus’ life instead of at the beginning?
• What is Jesus’ main point in these verses about the return of the Son of Man?
• How do you think he felt as he taught these things to the crowds of listeners?
• What causes us to lose our sense of urgency about Christ’s return?
• How can we wait in fervent hope, living in the ways Jesus taught? How can we be ready, whether he returns in our lifetimes or not?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

*****

For further resources, subscribe to the Formations Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

*