This chapter has a slight carry over from chapter 20 in the first 4 verses. In theory those verses belong more to chapter 20 because they are thematically related to the “denunciation of the Scribes” that ends chapter 20. Notice Jesus teaching about the generosity of the widow, contrasted with the hypocrisy of the Scribes.
The rest of chapter 21 is dedicated to a single theme- the future. More specifically: the Second Coming of the Messiah. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it up.
vv. 5-9 – The Destruction of the Temple
vv. 10-19 – Signs & Persecutions
vv. 20-24 – The Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold
vv. 25-28 – The Coming of the Son of Man
vv. 29-33 – The Lesson of the Fig Tree
vv. 34-38 – The Need for Watchfulness/Vigilance
The ancient Jews thought that the coming of the Messiah would be foretold by the destruction of the temple, cosmic events and the defeat of the oppressive Romans. Jesus is using these prophecies in one last attempt to convince the Jews that He is the Messiah but that all those prophecies (found throughout the Old Testament prophetic books) were not meant to be taken literally- like the part about the Messiah being this great powerful military leader who would defeat the Romans in battle. So, Jesus is using the bulk of chapter 21 to try to communicate that the time is now! The Messiah is in their midst if only they would soften their hearts and embrace Jesus as their Savior. He is there to save them not from the oppressive Romans and restore their promised land. He is there to conquer sin and death and take them to the Promised Land of Heaven.
We have entered a time now. We are waiting for the Second Coming of the Messiah which will mark an end of this era. Our hearts are turned to the closing of the chapter where Jesus talks about the need for vigilance and watchfulness. That’s a lesson we can all learn to hear and embrace- you just never know.
Point for Prayer
“Lord Jesus, judge of the living and the dead, I know that you have come into my life in baptism and continue to come to me in the Eucharist an in my life of prayer with you. Remind me that my daily faith commitment and acts of love constitute the best way to prepare both for my own death as well as the endo f the world and the second coming. Amen” (187).