Tuesday April 14, 2020
You Didn’t Say When!?
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
A few years ago my friend, Cammie Avers, said, “Shea, God gave me a vision for you last night!” Of course I was excited and curious so I asked her what she saw. She said, “It’s not time for me to tell you yet. There is much you have to go through first. I’ll know when it’s time to tell you.” Don’t you hate it when that happens!? Someone comes up to you and says they have something really important to tell you and then they forget or realize they were speaking out of turn or discern it isn’t the right time. Meanwhile, you’re left hanging…and frustrated.
As the disciples are marvelling at the magnificence of the temple and surrounding buildings, Jesus provides insight to a few that must have been received like an earthquake. For those of you who have seen the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, it’s roughly thirty-five feet shorter than the temple the disciples are walking around. Work on the out-buildings and courts continued during this time so they would have been very close to some of the ashlar stones which weighed over 100,000 pounds. It was a spectacular sight to see.
Even more bewildering than the architectural feat of the temple and surrounding buildings is what Jesus says. Every stone will be thrown down! Nothing will be left as it is. The magnitude of these words could not be fully registered. The disciples have yet to understand that Jesus’ actions in the temple chasing away the merchants and money-changers was an early tremor of what was to come. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the earthquake that finishes his mission and effectively destroys the function of the temple. Christ alone is our pure and spotless lamb. He has made peace between us and God.
The magnitude of Jesus’ words not only refers to the road of suffering he must walk down in the present but the kingdom he is inaugurating and will completely establish in the future when he returns. The temple was literally destroyed in 70 A.D. by Rome. The early followers of Jesus faced immense persecution at different periods of time and in various parts of the empire especially in the first quarter century after Jesus died. There are many places, like Nigeria, in our world today where followers of Jesus are kidnapped and killed. We still live under the orders of “shelter in place” and social distancing. We’ve heard stories of loved ones directly affected by the coronavirus. Many have lost their jobs. In a world connected by social media, we no longer hear rumors of wars and plagues and earthquakes. We see and hear the news immediately.
“These are the beginning of the birth pains.” I wonder if the disciples were feeling, “But Jesus, you left us hanging! You didn’t tell us when!” When are you going to come again and put everything right!? When will this virus die!? How long must we wait until the sun and moon pass away and you come from above the same way you left!? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Right now, I struggle with patience. It isn’t for us to know the days or the hours that Christ will come again. We are to be faithful and patient taking care of each other not to be deceived by those who would read the current signs and create confusion in the body of Christ by forecasting the end of days. Will you be like the persistent widow who receives justice from an unjust judge because she simply wouldn’t give up? And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8).
Prayer for Today
[Use the Lord’s Prayer as a framework and add personal praises, questions, confessions, etc.] Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. There is no other name above yours. Your name is holy. At the sound of your name, all creation sings for joy of the mighty works of your hands. You are worthy of all honor and praise. We rejoice that you have made known to us who you are through sending your Son. Lord, we pray that your kingdom comes and your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We long for justice to roll down the mountains and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We are your people who declare your favor upon this day you have given us. Move us by your Spirit. Conform us to your character. Give us our daily bread today. Lord, we depend on you for all that we need. You are everything we need, yet we often chase after idols. We run after the wind and take for granted your great gifts. Forgive us, oh God. Have mercy on us. Free us for joyful obedience as we forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us. Lead us away from evil and the schemes of the enemy. Deliver us into your presence Lord. We long to be in your presence where goodness and mercy are our covering. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
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