Jesus has left the temple in Jerusalem where He bested all the religious leaders they threw at Him. He and His disciples headed out of town for the evening and went to the Mount of Olives. Here He will provide His disciples with a sneak peek into our future.
Jesus had just told His disciples about the destruction of the temple as they were leaving town. The disciples come to Him now and ask for more information on that event. “Tell us, when will these things be” (verse 3).
The second questions Jesus’ disciples ask Him has got me thinking. Jesus’ disciples were expecting Him to rule and reign on earth right away. Were they asking what to expect before He took the throne in His current walk or were they asking regarding His references to coming again? What “age” are they referring to when they ask this question? The end of the Roman rule, or the end of Satan’s rule? Was this question inspired by the Holy Spirit so they, and we, could have it filed away for future use?
Jesus warned His disciples about His impending death three times before. During His first warning He also talked about taking up one’s cross and following Him. In this message He alluded to His second coming. “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). Jesus used parables referencing a master of the house going into a far country and later returning and dealing with servants or tenants. Jesus also referenced final judgement in the parables about the wheat and the tares, as well as a final yield in the different soil parable. Would they realize that this would be “the end of the age?”
Whenever Jesus spoke of His death He included His resurrection from the dead but He didn’t include that He wouldn’t be staying with them after He rose. Did His disciples figure if He was rising again that He would resume where He left off? They were not wrapping their heads around Him dying, let alone rising again. They had seen Him raise the dead but if He was dead who would raise Him?
Weather their question was focused on their “here and now” assumptions or was Holy Spirit inspired, Jesus answered it using a long term perspective. Because of our place in history we have already seen the destruction of the temple Jesus referred to earlier. Many cults have come and gone with leaders claiming to be the Christ or Savior. We have also witnessed the wars and rumors of wars and nations rising against nations. Famines and earthquakes in various places fill our news screens every week. But Jesus says all of these are just the beginnings of birth pains. We have witnessed the escalation of these “birth pains” for decades.
Thousands of people have endured “tribulation” (grievous trouble; severe trial or suffering) and have been put to death for believing in Jesus. Not so much in the US, but certainly in countries like China and Russia and the Middle East today, just to name a few. Germany’s legendary betrayal of their fellow man comes to mind when I read Jesus’ statement about betraying one another and hating one another. I can’t even begin to count the false prophets that have arisen over the years since Jesus’ statement. Many have fallen away from fear or watered down Jesus’ truths to suit their own comfort zone. Crime is rampant in our world; from the simple self-serving mugging to the religious zealot bombing of thousands. Many hearts have grown cold or indifferent, from the call of Jesus to love their neighbor to the commandment of “have no other god’s before Me.” ALL these things that Jesus was warning His disciples about are evident in our world today.
Looking at Jesus’ words from perspective of Israel is a little harder for me because I don’t know all their history. I know Jesus’ statement about them being hated by all nations for His name’s sake is true today. I believe Israel would say it is for God’s name sake, not Jesus’, and they would probably be right. Most every nation on our planet is against Israel currently, except the United States. I know the US too will join the rest of the world at some point because that too is part of prophecy. Is God orchestrating this because of their refusal of His Son? He did it with Israel and Egypt, who knows if He is doing it on a greater scale with the world. He had a purpose the first time around and He certainly has one for how things are going now.
All that Jesus has said to this point might make the disciples cringe and wonder why they signed on, but then Jesus gives them a ray of hope. Jesus says that those who endure to the end will be saved! That is reason enough to endure everything that has come before. He also gave them a mission in His next statement. The gospel of the Kingdom must be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations BEFORE the end will come. This is to be their focus. They don’t know the full magnitude of that focus yet, but Jesus is preparing them anyway.
Jesus is not finished here, but for tonight we are. There is so much more to what He shares that evening on the mountain with His disciples. I am in NO WAY claiming to be anywhere near an expert or even competent in end time prophecy, but we are going to go further into Jesus words tomorrow and see what else He says to be looking out for.
Father God, thank You for sharing with us what to be alert to regarding Jesus’ return. I long for Him to come! I also am grateful He hasn’t come yet. If Jesus were to come today I don’t know where all my family would be. I’m pretty sure some would be left behind to face what comes next. I don’t want that to happen!!! But I also don’t know if Jesus waiting is going to change that. Him coming and so many of us missing might be the shock they need to wake them up and return them to the teachings they received as children. Only You know what it will take or who it will take to reach them. I have to leave them in Your hands. You know how hard that is for me to do too. Not because I don’t trust You but because I know I don’t have the mountain moving kind of faith. Will it be my fault if they don’t listen? Could I have done more? Should I have prayed more? Did I fail to show them a true relationship with You when they were younger? Did my mistakes and struggles show them an ineffective God? God PLEASE undo my mistakes and bring them home to You! My heart aches for them to know the loving God You are. I ache to know You even better, even though I don’t always show it by how much time I devote to talking with You.
Thank You for reminding me of this morning’s songs on the radio. They were EXACTLY what I needed after this long two weeks I have had. They gave me comfort and assurance that You knew my needs and would still be holding me through the work still ahead. Forgive me for complaining about the little things, and help me always remember to hug my little ones. Thank You for letting me share deep things into their lives over the past two weeks. Water the seed God. I truly need this harvest.