12–18 February 2017.
We spoke last week about the dangerous temptation to look for signs of the end of the world. We saw how it distracts us from the work God wants us to do now, today. And even though this type of “sign reading” was popular in Bible times (and is still popular today), we saw how Jesus warned people not to get too involved with it. After all, no one knows God’s plan except God; so we shouldn’t let people trick us into thinking they know something that’s impossible to know.
In today’s text, Jesus stresses this point again. Jesus talks about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and some of the disciples think that this must be a sign of the end of the world. After all, aren’t terrible wars and natural disasters supposed to be signs of the coming end?
But again, Jesus warns his disciples not to be tricked by this type of thinking. In this world terrible things happen, wars and disasters happen, but in v. 9 Jesus says that doesn’t mean the end is coming now. Thinking this way leads to serious problems.
First, it encourages people to fall into the trap of thinking that things have to get really bad before God will do something. They think that only when there are horrible wars and disasters will God finally be bothered to come and do anything about it. But that’s not true at all. The good news of Jesus is that God has already acted, his kingdom has already started breaking into this world now, he is already here with us and already here helping us. That’s because God doesn’t just care about big global disasters, he also cares about all the little problems we face today – and he is already here to help us.
Second, instead of worrying about the far off future or the end of the world (which is something we can’t do anything about), Jesus tells us to prepare for the problems we are going to face today. In vv. 12–17, Jesus reminds us that we disciples, we people who stand for love and truth, are going to face many attacks in this world – even by our closest family and friends. They are the troubles we should be thinking of and preparing for.
But that doesn’t mean we should worry. Yes, working for love can bring hate and opposition. But Jesus tells us not to be afraid. He is with us now, he supports us and strengthens us. And even though a life of love can be tough sometimes, his praise and reward wait for us at the end.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis