Summary: A sane and simple sermon on the return of Christ
Ordinary Days: Grounded in Truth
In Mark 13 we read a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples. He ends up describing what the last days on this earth will be like. I am not trying to make predictions or even to say that we are living in those days. The felt need of the disciples was to know. They wanted to know when and where and what they could look for that would give them a heads up regarding the end of all things or the return of Christ. They really just wanted to know about the destruction of Jerusalem. Of course much of Jerusalem and the Temple that Jesus was referring to were destroyed years ago except for one wall now known as the Wailing Wall.
Jesus answered their question by giving some insight into what the end would look like but after all of that He instructed them to remember that NO ONE except the Father knows when and what will happen. He is quick to leave them with the parting thought that they should be faithful to His work yet serious about watching for His return.
Watching is not about reading scary “last days” books or watching apocalyptic movies. Watching is about “taking care” and being people of the word of God. We are to be a people who live out the Word in a culture that is anti-Christ. God still is looking for us to keep His covenant with us so that we might know Him in community.
For the last several weeks we have watched rumblings in the Middle East. For those of us raised in church even watching the evening news can be reminiscent of a 1960’s or 70’s revival sermon on the end of the world. For me personally, I remember well the feelings I had hearing sermon after sermon and song after song written during those decades. Most of us were convinced we would never live long enough to graduate from high school.
Jesus was coming back. . .soon! We sang along to songs like Larry Norman’s, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” and watched movies like, “A Thief in the Night.” All of this led to a dread and fear of missing the return of Jesus to this earth. How many times I found the Lord in the grocery or department store as a child when I got separated from my mother, only God knows. I was convinced during those moments that the “rapture” had taken place I in all my young sinfulness had been left behind. This was not a great time to be a kid. I think I still suffer from anxiety brought on by the fear tactics utilized to motivate us to be Christ followers.
With the exception of the fictitious writing of the Left Behind series of books, there is really very little being said in these days from the pulpits of most American churches Credible biblical teaching is for the most part not taking place on this subject. Personally, I believe that most of us don’t want to make the same mistakes that so many have made ever since Christ warned that He would return some day.
Throughout history, individuals and whole groups of people have insisted on setting dates and spending long hours trying to interpret the mystery of the end of the world as we know it. Apocalyptic scenarios have been a part of the modern movie industry for years. Even Al Gore has added his entry to the many voices from today’s culture that sound ominous warnings about the future.
My question has been how are we to respond? What did Jesus have to say about troublesome times and even the so called “end of the world?”
1. Questions posed by the Disciples
1As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, "Teacher, look at these tremendous buildings! Look at the massive stones in the walls!" 2Jesus replied, "These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another." 3Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, 4"When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to show us when all this will be fulfilled?"
The questions asked by the disciples are a very natural response to the statements Jesus had just made. Hearing that the temple would be destroyed would be hearing the prediction, prior to September 11, that the World Trade Centers were going to be destroyed from top to bottom. It would seem like an impossibility.