Summary: Jesus promises to return someday and fully establish God's kingdom. Jesus always keeps his promises.
Mark 13:24-37 “The Promise”
Occasionally, the local news programs will feature the homecoming of some of our deployed troops. I especially like it when their return is a surprise. An Army sergeant returned home recently. He surprised his daughter at her school. During her class performance, he appears from behind the curtain to the tearful hug from his daughter and the rousing applause of the audience.
Homecomings are always exciting. They are the exact opposite of leaving. Several months before this Army sergeant came from behind the curtain, he had to sit with that same daughter, tell her he would be gone for a long time, and give her instructions for what she should do while he was away.
Jesus finds himself in a similar situation with his disciples. In a few days, he will face the cross. Soon he will be separated from his followers and they will need to wait for his return.
Usually any discussion of the end times turns negative. We hear about Jesus coming in judgment. Rumor has it that he is extremely angry over our sinful behavior. People are scared.
There is no such fear in this Biblical passage. Mark records that Jesus revealed that the Son of Man will come in great power and glory. This is not something to be feared, but rather anticipated. A few weeks ago, we read a passage in Matthew where Jesus was likened to a bridegroom. It is a rare bride that awaits her love in fear. Anticipation and excitement are usually the dominant feelings of weddings.
Even if we meet our Savior face to face before he returns this is still not something to be feared. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Those who have had a life after death experience frequently share that it is nothing to fear. They talk about awe and wonder. If authentically reported, I appreciate Steve Jobs final words, “O wow! O wow! O wow!”
As we journey through life’s days, we can do so with hope and anticipation.
I always want to believe that as a Christian I will live a charmed life. God will bless me and others with comfort and contentment because we are his children. This is not the case, however. Jesus indicates to his disciples that they will experience tough times. They will experience pain and persecution because of their faith. They will also live through hard times because such is life. No one gets through life without a few scars.
Jesus tells his followers about the struggles that they will go through because he wants them to be prepared and not surprise. He doesn’t want them to doubt the validity of their faith because they experience trials and temptations, when they thought they would be free of them. He also wants them to know that everything is in control.
Jesus knows that pain and suffering will happen and he is prepared for it. God is in control of the situation, even though we may want him to take the difficult times away from us, or at least cut them short. Jesus wants his followers to know that no matter what happens he has them in the palm of his hand.
DEATH TO LIFE
Trials and tribulations are not merely things to be endured. They have a positive effect on our lives. From death comes resurrection and life. The giving of ourselves brings life and the kingdom of God.
This is an uncomfortable truth. We’d like to have life without experiencing death, but that doesn’t seem to be how things work. New life in Christ demands the death of the old self. The life of a new career follows the death of a job loss. The death of a free spirited, freewheeling couple brings the life of a family. The death of an addiction brings the new life of freedom.
Through all of life Jesus walks with us. He is there to breathe new life into our nostrils after we have expended our last breath. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and nothing can separate us from his love.
We prepare for Christmas and for the coming of our Lord from the foot of the cross. The cross of Christ enables us to live in hope rather than fear. It empowers us to be overcome the walls we encounter. Because of the cross we live the abundant life.