Summary: cost of deception can be very high, so Jesus shows us tactic of Satan that always work for him, so if you know them, you have a chance.
Summary: The cost of deception can be very high, so Jesus shows us tactic of Satan that always work for him, so if you know them, you have a chance.
This sermon was delivered to St John's in Girvan and St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 17th November 2013: by Gordon McCulloch
(both are Scottish Episcopal Churches in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Prayer: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord. Amen.
Today’s readings are generally referred to as the “end times prophesies”, and as you know, they are full of fear … and trepidation … and if you dwell on them too long, you will end up full of despondency and despair; but there is hope, if you know where to look.
Today’s prophesy is now known as the “Olivet Discourse” the greatest prophecy ever preached … (some of which we read this morning), and it was made just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem that Palm Sunday. Here he was in the great temple, and was just about to leave for the last time with his disciples; when without warning, Jesus started to speak about the last days.
Verses 5 and 6 “When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
When we marvel at the beauty of our Episcopalian churches, we do not want to be told that they are going to be raised to the ground; like that lovely church in Girvan, St John’s; no, and neither did the disciples; particularly as the temple in Jerusalem was so magnificent, in size … in architectural grandeur … and expensive decorations.
In fact it was estimated that the temple area itself covered about one-sixth of the ancient city of Jerusalem; and I guess that would be about the size of Maybole or Girvan or even larger.
The temple was not only the heart and soul of Jerusalem, but of the whole of the Jewish nation; and so these remarks were so devastating that the as disciples voiced their concerns in verse 7, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’
Now it was clear to the disciples that the temple was synonymous with the end of the world, and after all they had witnessed from Jesus, we could forgive them for thinking that this would happen in their lifetime; so, a wee bit of a warning would not go a miss.
They were of mistaken of course, because Jesus was making a connection between the fall of Jerusalem, (which happened in 70 AD) and the end of the age … the Second Coming … which is still to happen. However, the disciple’s question had two parts.
1 They wanted to know when this would take place.
2. Will there be any signs leading up to this event?
But Jesus deliberately avoided their question; and instead of telling them what they wanted to know, he told them what they needed to know; and that was, how to conduct themselves in the light of the destruction of Jerusalem; by giving them warnings about two very real; but decidedly separate dangers. The first is that they should not to be deceived, and the second is they should not worry.
1. Do not be deceived.
In Verse 8 Jesus says ”Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.
We will soon be moving onto 2014, and even the most casual observer is alarmed at the spiritual direction of our country. Many are deserting the church, with the young ones struggling for a reason to attend. The result is that churches are closing, and other established religions are being promoted.
There are also the newer religions emerging from the increase in global communication, like the … Mormons, and the … Jehovah Witnesses, and the … Scientologists and … New Age movement to name but a few; all which deny Jesus as the son of God.
And if that is not enough, there are all the spiritual groups, groups that are trying to contact the dead, looking for comfort and advice; in fact they are all trying to offer comfort and advice; and I am sure you can all add to this list; but towards the end of the age, Jesus is warning us that there will be an increase in deception, and a tremendous potential for people to be deceived; … and we can all testify to that.