Q. Re: Luke 21:34-36 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” I know that those who are to “pray that they may be considered worthy” are not members of the Church. To whom did Jesus address this scripture?
A. There is disagreement among scholars as to whether Luke 21:20-36 refers to the 1st Century destruction of Jerusalem or the end times, or whether He had both in view. But in any case He couldn’t have meant this for the Church. Our worthiness to stand before Him is based on our belief that Jesus is our Lord and Savior who died for our sins so we can have eternal life with Him. Matt. 7:7-8, John 3:16, John 6:28-29, and John 6:37-40 all attest to the fact that He consistently taught this.
As to whom He was really speaking to there are several clues. In Luke 21:20 He specifically mentioned Jerusalem, in Luke 21:21 it was Judea. In Luke 21:23 it was “this people” (the people of Judea) and in Luke 21:24 it was Jerusalem again. These references are clearly to the 1st Century destruction of Jerusalem and Judea, so these were the people He was addressing there.
Beginning in Luke 21:25 He changed His focus to include the whole world at the time of the 2nd Coming. In Luke 21:35 He confirmed this, meaning His warning of Luke 21:34-36 is to post rapture believers who will be alive on Earth at the time of the 2nd Coming, whose salvation is not by grace through faith alone but requires they maintain their own righteousness through obedience to the Law as well (Rev. 14:12).