Was Jesus Wrong About the Time of His Return?

This is just a short snippet out of a larger discussion, but I thought it might be worth including here anyway. In Luke 21:20-28, Jesus speaks of the end times. As I was reading it just now, it almost seemed in the first four of those verses as if Jesus was speaking of the fall of Jerusalem as the end of all things, “to fulfill all that is written.”

If that was what Jesus meant, he was centuries (at least!) wrong about the time of his return; Jerusalem was conquered in AD 70. Was that what he meant to say?

Here’s most of that passage, in the ESV:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people….

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

It sounds like he got it wrong, doesn’t it? All this seems to be happening virtually at once, from the fall of the city to the return of Christ. A lot of skeptics say so. In this passage, though, that’s not the case. Look at verse, 24, which I omitted before, and belongs at the end of the first paragraph above:

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

How long did Jesus expect that interim period to last? Long enough for the Jews to be dispersed among all nations; long enough for the “times of the Gentiles” to be fulfilled. A while, in other words–an indefinite while, that is. I don’t think Jesus can be accused here of getting this wrong. That’s especially true if we add Matt. 24:14 into the mix

Skeptics are eager to find fault with Jesus Christ. Christians, we need not be shaken. We can straighten up and raise our heads: our redemption is near.