Morning Bible Study
We are now on the homestretch of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus is now in Jerusalem, on His way to be crucified.
Luke has reminded us of what Jesus’ main purpose was in life:
(Luke 19:10 NKJV) for the Son
of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
We saw Jesus arrive in Jerusalem on a Sunday, to the shouts of an adoring
crowd, crying “Hosanna”.
The next morning, on Monday, Jesus came into the Temple and cleared out
those who were ripping the people off.
He then began to teach in the Temple, as He would every day until He would
21:5-19 Signs of His Coming pt.1
:5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful
stones and donations, He said,
:6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one
stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
:5 adorned with beautiful stones and donations
The people with Jesus were making comments as to how awesome the Temple
When the exiles returned from Babylon, they rebuilt the Temple under the
leadership of Zerubbabel.
Herod the Great began a project of expanding and refurbishing the Temple in
In Jesus’ day, the work was still going on.
The project wouldn’t actually be finished until AD 65, just a few years
before it would be destroyed.
:6 not one stone shall be left upon another
What’s really important
After Jesus dealt with the people who were trying to challenge Him, as He
began to teach, and the first thing He did was to stop and point out the poor
widow woman who put her two coins into the Temple offering.
Jesus pointed out that this woman’s two little coins were worth more to God
than all the contributions of everyone else put together.
Compared to the widow’s gift, the grand stones of the Temple didn’t seem as
important because not one of them would be left standing.
Today at the Temple Mount, you can see some of those stones lying where the
Romans had tossed them over when they destroyed the Temple in AD 70.
If I were to ask you who you would identify with the most, who would you
Do you feel like the poor widow who really doesn’t have that much to give?
Or do you feel like one of the wealthy contributors who helped underwrite
the construction of a great, vast, beautiful structure?
Which one do you think is more important to God?
God doesn’t care for big glorious buildings as much as He
cares for individual people.
Look at what Peter would write thirty years later…
Peter 2:5 HCSB) you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual
house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
The truly “beautiful stones” are you, the people, offering
your worship to God.
Don’t think that God only cares about people who do big things.
Don’t think that your “little thing” isn’t good enough for God.
God has His eye on “little things”. Including you.
Edward Kimball taught a Sunday School class of teenagers.
One of the teens he led to Christ was Dwight Moody, who would one day reach
hundreds of thousands for Jesus.
Susanna Wesley was just a mom who taught her kids about Jesus.
Yet her sons John and Charles were at the heart of a great revival, and
when John died, 135,000 people had come to Christ.
We might get discouraged because we will never be a Moody or a Wesley.
God needs a few Edwards and Susannas as well.
He loves those widows putting in their two cents.
Remember what the Master will say to the faithful when He returns:
NKJV) His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;
you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Don’t despise the days of small things.
God cares about what you do, even if it’s not noticed by
:7 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And
what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”
:7 when these things are about to take place?
The things Jesus will share are partially fulfilled with the coming
destruction of the Temple, but completely fulfilled at His Second Coming.
:8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in
My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do
not go after them.
:8 saying, ‘I am He’
Literally, “saying, ‘I am’”
When God told Moses that His name was Yahweh, God also said to tell the
people that “I Am” had sent Moses.
“Yahweh” means “the becoming one”, the eternal “I am”.
In the Greek, Jesus uses ego eimi,
which is often used by John in His gospel as a reference to God’s name Yahweh.
There will be people from time to time who will claim to be the Messiah. This is nothing new.
Jesus said to not go after people like this. When Jesus returns, He won’t have to convince
anyone who He is, it will be completely obvious.
:9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these
things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
:9 do not be terrified
The study of prophecy is not meant to cause you terror, but to prepare you
for what’s up ahead.
:10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom
:11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and
pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
Lots of scary things happening.
:12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and
persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons.
You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.
:12 lay their hands on you and persecute you
Jesus is warning His followers of the persecution that is coming.
The church has been persecuted from the time of Jesus.
You could make a case that persecution against Christians has been picking
up, especially in Muslim countries.
:13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.
:14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on
what you will answer;
:14 not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer
meditate – from meletao –the
practice of orators to meditate and ponder carefully before they would give a
what you will answer – apologeomai
(“apologetics”) – to defend one’s self
I’ve heard preachers use this as an excuse not to study for their message
Jesus is not talking about a Sunday morning message, but a defense for your
life before someone throws you into prison.
It is important to know why you believe what you believe. Peter wrote,
(1 Peter 3:15 NKJV)
…and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who
asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
Yet Jesus is talking about persecution when you don’t have the opportunity
to prepare a three-point sermon.
It’s in times like this that God may want to work through you and give you fresh
words to say.
:15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will
not be able to contradict or resist.
:15 I will give you a mouth and wisdom
A young woman teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class
of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are
atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their
teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks. There is,
however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the
crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. “Because I’m
not an atheist.” Then, asks the teacher, what are you? “I’m a Christian.” The
teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she
is a Christian. “Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a
Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” The teacher is now
angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if your mom was a moron, and
your dad was a moron. What would you be then?” A pause, and a smile…. “Then,”
says Lucy, “I’d be an atheist.”
Stephen was one of the first “deacons” in the early church.
His early ministry consisted of helping with the food distribution to the
widows in the church.
Stephen’s ministry went beyond waiting on tables though.
6:8–10 NKJV) —8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs
among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the
Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing
with Stephen. 10
they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
One of the people likely to have been in that Synagogue
was a man from Cilicia named Saul of Tarsus.
Stephen would be arrested and put on trial before the Sanhedrin.
His amazing defense about Jesus is recorded in Acts 7.
When he finished his defense, the religious leaders were
so angry, they had Stephen stoned to death.
A young man named Saul watched and heard the entire thing.
Stephen is famous as the first “martyr” to die for his faith.
Yet he started with helping with the food outreach at
We think that Stephen’s words, and the way he died had a
lasting impact on Saul, getting him ready to meet Jesus face to face. We know Saul today as the apostle Paul.
Paul talked about what happens in our lives when we go through difficulty,
and how God will use our difficulty to impact others.
Paul likens us to “clay pots” with a treasure inside, the treasure is the
light of God.
4:6–12 NKJV) —6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who
has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory
of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence
of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are
perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always
carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus
also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that
the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then
death is working in us, but life in you.
God gets the attention of the people around us when are clay pots are being
People don’t often see the light inside of us until our lives are broken in
It’s when we are trusting in Jesus in the midst of great difficulty that
the truth of the message about Jesus is heard.
We may be experiencing “death” in our difficulties, but God can use it to
work “life” in those around us.
The date was February 23 AD 155, and the persecution against Christians
swept across the Roman Empire and came to the city of Smyrna. The governor of
Symrna put out an order that the Bishop of Symrna, Polycarp, was to be found,
arrested, and brought to the public arena for execution. They found Polycarp
and brought him before thousands of spectators screaming for blood. But the governor
had compassion on this man who was almost a hundred years old. He signaled the
crowd to silence. To Polycarp he said, “Curse the Christ and live.” The crowd
waited for the old man to answer. In an amazingly strong voice, he said, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and
he has done me no wrong. How dare I blaspheme the name of my king and Lord!”
With that, they burned him alive.
In the account of his death, it was recorded,
the whole crowd marveled that there was such
a difference between the unbelievers and the elect
The difficult times you may be going through will be opportunities for
God’s light to shine through.
God may give you a word to those around you as they watch you handle your
:16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and
friends; and they will put some of you to death.
:16 betrayed even by parents and brothers
It’s one thing when a school teacher or a boss gives you grief for being a
Christian, but Jesus said that even those closest to you may at times turn
against you because you are following Jesus.
Some of you know what this is like.
When you made a choice to follow Jesus, you’ve found that some family
members weren’t all that excited.
:17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.
:17 you will be hated by all for My name’s sake
I have to admit that I prefer people liking me over people hating me.
Yet sometimes as I am following Jesus, I will find certain people hating me
because of my relationship with Jesus and how Jesus is working in my life.
(John 15:18 NKJV) “If the
world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
:18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.
:18 not a hair of your head shall be lost
This might look like a promise of invincibility, as if following Jesus
means that bullets will bounce off you.
The promise is that this doesn’t fit the reality.
Peter would one day be crucified upside down.
Paul would one day be killed with a sword.
I think this is a promise of eternal life.
They may kill the body, but they can’t kill your soul.
In heaven, you will have all your hairs.
For some of you, that means you’ll gain some of those you’ve already lost.
:19 By your patience possess your souls.
:19 By your patience possess your souls
patience – hupomone (“under”
+ “to remain”) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance
It’s the characteristic of the person who does not stop doing what is right
despite the greatest trials and suffering.
Sometimes it seems like troubles are constantly chasing you.
Sometimes there are people in your life who cause nothing but trouble.
They say one way to defeat your enemies is to simply
The key to life is to keep going.
And you will need more than just an Energizer battery.
Jesus is saying you will “possess” your soul if you endure.
In contrast, if you quit on Jesus, you will “lose” your soul.
Theologians call this doctrine the “perseverance of the saints”.
Some will choose to look at this doctrine and say, “If you
are part of God’s chosen, then you will automatically endure to the end.”
I prefer to look at it as a choice.
I don’t want to lose my soul, so I will choose to
persevere, to endure.
The early church faced this challenge to endure, to keep going.
The letter of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were tempted to
quit following Jesus and just hide back in Judaism.
NKJV) —1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was
set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against
Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Jesus had a race to run in life. His goal was to make it to the cross and lay
down His life for us.
He did this out of love for us, in order to pay for our
sins so we might be forgiven and live with Him forever in heaven.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we too can learn to endure
to the very end.
Sometimes we just feel like we “can’t do this” anymore.
We get discouraged when we lose sight of the bigger purpose of our lives.
What do we keep fighting for?
We too have a “great story” that we follow. The greatest story is about what Jesus has
done for us.
We have a great story or plan for our lives as well, and
it requires us to keep going.
God isn’t finished with this world yet. Jesus still has people who need to be saved.
19:10 NKJV) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was
We endure in order to see God’s work continue on this