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The Second Sunday Before Advent

Malachi 4.1–2a
2 Thessalonians 3.6–13
Luke 21.5–19

The material in today’s reading from Luke can be found in a very similar form in Mark 13 and Matthew 24, and all are agreed that the temple is the trigger for these terrible sayings. Jesus seems to be warning the disciples about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which did in fact take place in ad 70, on Roman orders.

His disciples couldn’t have followed Jesus for all those months without noticing that Jesus’ views about the temple and the religious establishment were, at best, ambiguous. But this passage does not suggest that the temple deserves to be destroyed. There is no hint of anger or vengeance in any of these sayings, which somehow makes them more chilling. It is interesting that the disciples immediately assume that Jesus is talking about the end of the world, the time of judgement and consummation. For them, the temple is still so pivotal in their understanding of what God requires that they assume that the only thing that can succeed the temple is God’s direct reign...

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