Everyone's talking about the beauty of the temple.
Quick history snack: In Jesus's day, the precinct of the temple was undergoing a renovation started by Herod the Great a few decades earlier. You can still see some of the "beautiful stones" (21:5) of this renovation standing today as part of the renowned Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Field trip, anyone?
But back to the story. Jesus fails to share their appreciation because he knows a day is coming when all of these exquisite stones will have been tossed down.
When's it going to happen? Everyone wants to know.
Here's the checklist: false prophets, wars and revolts, terrible earthquakes everywhere, famines, plagues, and freaky astronomical occurrences.
Before it all goes down, followers will have a rough time of it. They can expect arrests, persecutions, trials, and prisons. They'll have to answer charges in synagogues as well as before kings and governors—all because of Jesus.
The bright side is that this will provide them with lots of opportunities to spread their message? (We're guessing all this apocalyptic stuff with bring Twitter down, too.)
By the way, a lot of these shenanigans actually occur in Acts, which is a follow-up volume to Luke. Read it and see for yourselves.
But Jesus doesn't want his followers to worry beforehand about how they're going to defend themselves when they're on trial.
Jesus promises to give them words of wisdom, and no opponent will have the ability to refute or contradict them.
Sadly, though, they'll be facing a pretty nasty situation: parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will be informers who'll rat them out.
Some of them will be executed, and general hatred will prevail against them because of their devotion to Jesus.
Not even a single hair will perish. And remember that God's counted each hair (12:7). That's comforting, but how does it jive with the possibility of execution in 21:16?
When Jerusalem gets taken over, the people in Judea should get the heck out. Things will not be looking good.
Jerusalem's destruction is essentially divine "wrath" (21:23) against the Jewish people.
You should probably be asking what they did to deserve this "wrath" in Luke's view. Hint: starts with 20:16.
Lots of death, destruction, and overall weirdness will go down, and that's exactly when they'll see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" (21:27).
That means their "redemption" (21:28) is drawing near.
How about another little illustration to help?
They know all about fig trees and their leaves. When the tree puts forth its leaves, that means it's almost time to pick its fruit.
Same thing here. When they witness these crazy events, they'll know God's kingdom is on its way.
Jesus promises, "this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place" (21:32).
Wait a second. The events described here in 21:25-28 haven't happened yet, right? Dare we ask whether Jesus was wrong? The challenge is to sort out Luke's understanding of this issue of timing.
Bottom line: they should pray to God that they'll have the strength to face up to everything that's about to occur and stand before the Son of Man.
End of lesson.
Jesus spends his days teaching in the temple, but he stays at night on the Mount of Olives.
Everyone rises nice and early just to hear him. After all, it's Jesus who's teaching.