We are leaving Jerusalem with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus has been debating with the religious leaders in the temple for quite some time. He won every one of those debates, naturally. While walking away from town, Jesus attention is drawn back to the temple by one of His disciples.
We heard this story in Matthew and Mark’s gospel accounts but, because of how the headings are placed in my ESV bible, we only looked at the actual scriptures about the destruction of the temple. Matthew and Mark put the next remarks on the side of the Mount of Olives. Luke doesn’t give that location clarification so the destruction and the first “when” and “how will we know” questions fall in our reading today. That is where I want to focus our discussion today.
Jesus has just dropped a bombshell on His disciples. He has been doing that a lot lately. The first one was when He predicted His death right after Peter’s confession of who Jesus really was. This past couple of weeks, He has reinforced that at least twice. He has also told them that THIS trip to Jerusalem would be His final one. What are His disciples to think? Now He says the temple, the heart of the Jewish community, is going to be TOTALLY destroyed.
I can just see His disciples standing there with their mouths hanging open after His statement. How? When? No!
From Matthew and Mark’s gospel we know that the disciples had time to ponder the questions they wanted to ask while they walked the rest of the way to the Mount of Olives. Or could it be that they were actually walking up it when they made their observational statement? Either way, they wanted some clarification on this subject.
Jesus doesn’t directly answer their question. He doesn’t give them time and date but does point out some signs that will occur and some very pointed warnings. Jesus says that some people will come pretending to be Him. Jesus’ relationship with His followers should make it easier for them to tell the difference between the original and a counterfeit. But Jesus warns them that counterfeits will come.
The imposter’s message with be just as false. In addition to claiming they are the Christ, they will be saying the end is now. Jesus said it was still a long way off. We know that the temple’s destruction would happen within the disciples’ lifetime, but the end of the age is still to come. Jesus said that wars and rumors of wars would take place, but that wasn’t the end yet either.
The most important thing I take away from Jesus’ warning is His admonition, “…do not be terrified…” (verse 9). War and rumors of war is a terrifying thought/subject. We hear it on the news every day and it scares us silly! The bomb shelter industry was/is proof of that. But fallout shelters and stockpiling of food is not what we are supposed to trust in.
When Jesus tells His disciples not to be afraid, it wasn’t because these things were mundane and not worth getting upset about. He said this because these events would have a different significance to His followers. First off, His followers were to put their trust in Him. HE would care for them in these situations. He has control of the moon and stars; a few guns mean nothing to Him. We are to get excited because these things mean the end is quickly approaching. The time when Jesus finally steps down out of Heaven and ends Satan’s rule here on earth. That’s something to get excited about, not afraid of! I have come to the mentality of, bring it on. If we have to go through it anyway, I would rather go through it now and get to the blessing at the end, instead of prolonging our misery here.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the warnings. I wish I could read them more clearly, but I think that was intentional too. I wouldn’t mind a few more “exact locations” pieces from You. Waiting is not my strong suit. Keep me ever trusting in You and always ready for whatever comes next.