Often times we categorize Bible passages as "Second Coming" or "Eschatological" passage and proceed to interpret them as referring to the consummation of things in Christ's return. I think this provides a narrow lens for interpreting these passages, locating the destructive and constructive work of Christ in the future. Jesus describes the reality of both chaos and redemption, something that was happening as the Gospels were being written and continues to happen again and again in our lives.
Note: This is my first time really studying this passage in sometime. I invite comments to help me flesh this out!
Key Words of contrast
Α. Come vs Go
εγγιζω (meaning "approach or draw near"; as a verb ηγγικεν (21.20 and 28) and adjective ηγγυς (21.31)
παρερχομαι (meaning "disappear or go away"; as a verb παρελθη (21.32) and παρελευσονται (21.33)
Perhaps the most crucial word in this entire section of Luke is εγγιζω. It appears over and over in chapters 18-22 as Jesus "approaches" (εγγιζω) Jerusalem and Jesus preaches about the "approaching" (εγγιζω) events, including his death, resurrection and return.
It is also worth noting that this verb is in the present tense -- Jesus is approaching here and now. The redemption (and destruction) that Jesus brings is not located in the future, but in the present too.
On the other hand, Jesus presents a reality, not of something coming, but of something leaving and disappearing, namely, heaven and earth.
Advent preaching idea: All of the other things that make American Christmas "Christmas" will fade away -- the Bing Crosby music, the tinsel, the Amazon Prime deals. What will abide? The Word. This is where we should dwell. Help people see what this is like though - Advent Wreaths, daily devotions, singing carols, worship.
Β. Destroy vs Redeem
ερημωσις (meaning "wilderness or destruction"; vs 20)
απολυτρωσις (meaning "redemption"; vs 28)
Jesus suggests that the "end times" will bring about destruction. First, it is in interesting that Jesus prophesies a time of wilderness, translated destruction in vs 20. While this is a fair translation, it misses out on the Biblical theme of wilderness, a place of renewal and encounter with God. The coming of Christ invites us into the wilderness, to encounter Christ.
I also think this contrast highlights the fact that what we call the "end times" -- would better be called the "fullness time." For in Christ will have our freedom, our redemption.
Advent preaching idea: What does it mean for Jesus to approach us? This passage suggests that Jesus coming and approaching us is never neutral; we are always changed by this encounter, either in that the world around us changes, we are invited into a wilderness (with John too) or we receive our redemption. Of all of the above.
C. Stand vs Flee
ιστημι (meaning "stand"; as a verb σταθηναι; vs 21.36)
εκφυγειν (meaning "flee"; vs 21.36)
On the one hand, we are called to flee from certain things: dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life. On the other hand, we are called to be prepared to stand before Christ.
Advent preaching idea: Christmas nostalgia can become a drug of choice to escape the cares of the world. This is anti-incarnation. We are called like Christ to be in this world, to stand before him, who is always present in places of need and hurt. Christmas should be about us taking a step into the world, not away from it. So where will people find solace and strength? (Go back to the word.)
Note: The verb meaning stand also appears in vs 28 (ανακυψατε; stand straight up)
Incomplete thoughts for a future post
ου μη means never
Indicative verb tense governs tense translation of related participles
αποψυχοντων (αποψυχον) 26biotikos