Luke 21:16-18 - [Jesus was saying to His disciples,] "You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for My Name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Yosemite Valley, California, is a dangerous place, where devastating forces clear the way for new creation. On June 13, 1999, Peter Terbush was killed by a rockfall in Yosemite. Peter and two friends were rock climbing. One friend was perched 60 feet up the granite wall. Peter and the other friend were below. Peter and the climber were tied into a rope system called a belay. Peter was the belayer. It was his job to hold the tension in the rope and to catch his climber if he fell. Suddenly, a thousand feet above them, a 500-ton slab of granite cut loose and cartwheeled toward earth. The other friend on the ground saw it and ran for cover. He and the climber survived the rockfall. Peter could have run for cover, but it would have meant letting go of the belay. So, with boulders the size of Volkswagens crashing down around him, he stood his ground and held the rope. When they found his lifeless body lying in the rubble, Peter was still holding on, saving his climber's life.
Long ago, a building collapsed; several people were killed by the falling stones. People wondered if this was God's judgment, and if the deceased had gotten what they deserved. They asked Jesus about it. Jesus said to them, "Do you think that they were worse sinners than all the others? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:4b-5). The Bible does not tell us why some people today are saved from tragic accidents and others aren't. But the Bible does tell us that God intends to save us through His judgment (see Romans 8:3). God created the universe and crystalized His creation with an embedded order. But we find ourselves caught up in a spiritual rebellion against God. We tried to take God's gifts on our own terms, but the natural world won't rebel against its Creator. Like a horse that bucks off a thief, the natural creation comes undone under our rebellion. The walls come tumbling down. God, in His judgment, is leveling the ground for everyone to clear the way for something new.
Jesus once warned His people of the coming judgment. When He approached Jerusalem, He wept for the city. He knows they'll be telling the Romans to crucify Him, but to release a man guilty of insurrection. It's a sign of things to come. In the following decades, Jerusalem's insurrection will lead them to war with Rome. The empire will send its legions. And the whole thing will come crashing down on their heads. That judgment on Jerusalem was a preview of the final judgment still to come when Jesus returns. And to all who trust in Him, He promises, "Not a hair of your head will perish." Jesus is not saying "nothing bad will happen" to us in this mortal life. He is saying that whatever happens, He will hold onto you. He will raise you from the dead. He will bring you into His new creation. Jesus can make this promise because He went through the final judgment already, on our behalf, when He was crucified. And when God's judgment on our sin came crashing down on Him, He was holding on to you. Now, He is alive again. And He promises, "I've got you. I won't let you go, no matter what happens."
WE PRAY: Lord Jesus, You wept for a world in rebellion. Keep me in Your grip, so that I can hold the line for others. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. How has God sent people into your life to hold you through disaster or disappointment?
2. Read Luke 21:5-38. As these events (the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.) prefigured the future Final Judgment, which of Jesus' warnings do you need to take to heart today?
3. Where in Jesus' words do you find comfort and hope that can endure through judgment?
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