What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus knew what to look for in the Day of the Lord.
- Jesus wants us to pay attention to the “signs of the times.”
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- There is still a lot I don’t understand.
- Our job is to be on alert for Jesus’ (the Son of Man’s) return.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
The study of end things, known as “eschatology,” is one of the most divisive and controversial areas of theological study. My response when people come to me with various theories about the end times is to ask, “What does Jesus teach about this?” I am not being facetious about this, either. I believe the safest way to avoid unnecessary and outrageous speculation is to ground our understanding of end things in what Jesus says about it.
First, he says that he is coming back. This is clear in verses 30 and following.
And of that return, Jesus has several things to say:
No one will know what day or hour he will return, verse 36. Notice this: not even the angels NOR JESUS HIMSELF know of the time. Only the Father. (This is interesting to grapple with. Jesus, God in the flesh, was self-limited in his knowledge while on earth.)
Charlatans will claim that they are the returning Messiah verse 4. We should be on the lookout for those false Messiahs.
His return will be preceded by a time of terrific turmoil, politically and naturally.
His followers will be persecuted and killed, and this will lead many’s betrayal.
Many will be deceived and others will grow cold in their love.
Those who stand firm will be saved even in the midst of this persecution and turmoil- perhaps BECAUSE the gospel of Jesus will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.
What about verse 15 and following? We need to remember that, within 35 years, the Jewish world would come crumbling down. The Romans rose up to crush Jewish rebellion and the temple was burned to the ground. As Jesus prophesied, not one stone remained upon another. You can be sure that those who heard Jesus haunting predictions of the destruction of Jerusalem, when it occurred in 70 AD, were convinced that this was what he had foretold.
The question is, does it ALSO speak to a future reality… the FINAL days? I think so. The language about his appearance in verse 30, coming on the clouds of the sky in power and glory, certainly seem to speak to a final culmination of all things. And notice, then he will gather “the elect” to himself… a clear indication of his sovereign power and rights. Biblical prophecy is a lot like looking across mountain ranges. You see what seems to be one peak after another, but only from above can you see the huge valley that separates them.
So… what are we to do with this? Several things. First, believe that it is true. Believe and trust that one day, Jesus will come back as he promised and set all things right. Second, stop speculating about when it will be. Every time you hear someone saying, “The signs indicate that Jesus is about to come back,” please remember what Jesus himself said. NO ONE KNOWS! So…stop speculating. It is fruitless and, perhaps, even sinful. Finally, live your life as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow! The final teachings indicate that we SHOULD be watchful… and that we should live our lives in expectation so that, when he DOES come back, he will be pleased with what he finds us doing.
A great question then: if Jesus WERE to come back tomorrow, are you ready? Any regrets? Any short list? Any relational things to be dealt with? Don’t delay; take care of business now…