Summary: Jesus gives us signs to look for prior to his coming. We’ll see how these signs were fulfilled in Jesus’, Luther’s, and our times, and how we are to respond
November 2, 2003 Mark 13:5-11
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.
9 “But you - watch each other. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Dear Fellow Lutherans, Reformed by the Grace of God in Preparation for His Coming,
Several weeks ago I heard a traveling evangelist claim that our own government blew up the Oklahoma City building and is currently protecting the evidence so no one will find out “the truth”. Others also have claimed that the United States and the Jews also orchestrated the 9-11 attacks against the Twin Towers. Why? So they could go and attack Iraq and take over Arabic countries. Others have a theory that the United States government allows these things to happen so that they can pass laws that will give them more power. These are called Conspiracy Theories. The Internet is full of them.
The religious world is full of conspiracy theories well. I don’t know how many preachers have looked at Daniel and Ezekiel and tried to find how these predictions have come true. During the cold war Russia was the big enemy that everyone had to beware of. But now, more people are pointing to Syria, Iran, and North Korea as supposedly being predicted in the Bible as the great Satan and what not. Many Zionists claim that when Israel was re-established it was all predicted in the Bible and a sign of a millennium to come. Some people really get wrapped up in this stuff, to the point of paranoia.
In today’s text Jesus talked in very clear language about what would happen prior to the end of the world. There’s no room for false and fanciful interpretations in these words. They’re pretty straight forward. Without getting specific, Jesus talks about “false christs” who would come in His name and deceive many. He also talks about earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars, and also persecutions of Christians. He also said to “watch out” for them - several times. These are real warnings - they aren’t things that we should just laugh off or ignore as religious paranoia. They’re straight forward warnings.
Yet we have a church and a world full of people who are more concerned about what color their carpet is and know more about their starting football team than they do about these predictions of Christ. It is a sad commentary on the laziness and down right ignorance of the very people that God calls to watch out. It reminds me of when the Wise Men came to find Jesus and the teachers of the law told them to go to Bethlehem, but not a one of them was energetic enough to go with them. If you really opened your eyes to what is going on in our world, I believe that we would have more Christians concentrating on God’s Word and what is really important in life. Because the more you look at it, the more you’ll see that the end is very near indeed.
As we look back on these predictions that Jesus made 2,000 years ago on this Reformation Sunday, it will become painfully clear how near the end really is, and what we need to do in light of this revelation. Jesus tells you to -
Open Your Eyes and Your Mouths As the End Draws Near
I. Things are getting worse
When Jesus spoke these predictions, he concluded by saying in vs. 30, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” By the time that generation passed away, all of what Jesus predicted would happen prior to the end of the world had come true. The disciples were put on trial before governors and kings. A famine and persecution had caused a great collection to be made for the church in Jerusalem. The Roman army came in and destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., so not one stone was standing on another. Many false apostles came in the name of Christ and wrote letters that they said were from Moses, Paul, and others - but weren’t. The Gospel had reached the ends of the earth. (Romans 10:18) Everything that Christ predicted came true. But the end didn’t come.