What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus will come again, not as a sacrificial Lamb, but as a conquering Lord.
- We can rest assured that no matter what happens, in the end, Jesus wins.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Jesus tell his disciples to stand firm, be on guard and stay awake.
- We are called in the same way also, not to worry when Jesus will come again, but to be ready for when he does.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Not exactly a feel-good passage! Jesus is speaking about several things…and as is often the case with biblical prophecy, things spoken of as if they are occurring at the same time can actually be separated by long periods of time.
He speaks of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, a time of unprecedented tribulation, and his return in power. The temple WAS destroyed and Jerusalem ravaged in 70 AD when Rome, finally fed up with the unrest by Jewish Zealots, sent in troops to put an end to it all. Jesus’prediction regarding the temple having no stone remaining, one upon another, was literally fulfilled because, in the wake of the fire that destroyed it, the soldiers pried every stone apart to get to the melted gold.
But the language of tribulation suggests that there will be another period, even worse than the ones that the Jews experienced in 70 AD. Some Christians today teach that Christians will be raptured (i.e., taken up into heaven in a twinkling of an eye) before this tribulation occurs. It is difficult to read this passage and believe that. It says that God has to shorten the days of the tribulation for the sake of “the elect”, i.e., those called by Jesus into faith. (v 20) Honestly, this idea, that God would not allow Christians to experience persecution, could only have been born in America. Just ask the millions of people around the world who have died for their faith down through the centuries…even up to today. I am grateful to be “safe”in the US…but when I look at the state of the Church in America compared to the vitality of Christian faith in places like China where to believe can be a death sentence…I wonder how “safe”we really are?
Jesus’warnings to his disciples could not be more clear: watch out, be on your guard, do not worry when you speak because Holy Spirit will guide you, do not believe false prophets…and at the end, no one knows, no one knows, no one knows…repeated many times…are these not obvious encouragements to us to be vigilant and faithful and wise as we go about our lives, whatever our circumstances?
At any rate, the happy ending to a horrible time could not be clearer: Jesus will return, not as a sacrificial lamb, but as a conquering Lord. Glory to all who followed him til the end; pity to those who did not. One particular phrase strikes me: verse 13: “…he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” May it be said of me in my life, whatever trials or persecutions might befall me.