Holy Week - Day 7
5 Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, 6 “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”
8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.
20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. 22 For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. 23 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. 24 They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.
25 “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
29 Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. 38 The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him.
The Missing King
The weather is supposed to be nice this Saturday. Nice weather on Saturdays makes me smile. A sunny day will allow me to hang out, piddle around, and do some work in the yard. If the Spirit moves me, I might even wash all of the pollen off of my truck. It will be a good break between a busy week and the busyness of Easter Sunday.
But even if the weather stinks, my Day Before Easter will be much better than the very first Day Before Easter. That day was dark. Let’s take a moment and imagine what that day would have been like for the disciples…
Jesus, the one they thought was the Messiah, was crucified by the Romans not twenty-four hours before. He had done such amazing miracles and taught with such authority…how could He have died so easily? It was almost as if He wanted to die. He wouldn’t even let the disciples put up a fight when He was arrested.
Now the disciples we’re scared. What were they supposed to do? I’m sure some of the last things He said were rattling around in their heads. Just a few days before they were walking out of the Temple, admiring its beauty and glory, when Jesus launched into this long speech. He said the Temple would be destroyed! That’s no small thing, for only God’s judgment could bring down the Temple. So they asked when this would happen, looking for hints and insider info. I’m sure they all wanted to be far away from Jerusalem on that day.
But instead of giving hints, Jesus took it from bad to worse. He said there would all sorts of civil unrest, wars, and natural disasters. There would be persecutions targeting the disciples, and they would be given over to the authorities by family and friends. Jesus told them not to worry, for He would give them the words to say. But I’m sure they were thinking, “How is He going to tell us what to say if He’s dead?!?”
As He talked, Jesus seemed to drift between stuff that would happen to the disciples soon and stuff that would happen sometime later. He spoke of armies and destruction and signs in the stars. Then He said the Son of Man would return in a cloud with great glory. That name – Son of Man – had to trigger something with the disciples. It was a name Jesus sometimes used to talk about Himself. It’s like Jesus was saying that He was going to go away, and then some bad things would happen. But one day, when things seemed to be getting really bad, He would return. And this time he would come with power.
“Stand and look up!” when we see those signs, Jesus said, “for your salvation is near!”
As the disciples hid on that very first day before Easter, they had no idea what was coming. Their world was dark. Their outlook was painfully bleak. Jesus, the one who claimed to be the Son of God, was now dead and buried. There was no upheaval or rebellion, no restoration of Israel to her former power. There was no reversal of all things wrong. Sin still reigned supreme. The last three years of their lives had to weigh on their hearts. Was it all a farce? Did they give their lives for a pseudo conquering King that died on a cross?
They did have one thing. They had promises, Jesus’ promises. Promises that yes, more bad things were going to happen, but also promises that He would return with power and glory. How was this possible? Surely no one knew. All they could do was trust that Jesus would keep His word, stand up, pay attention, and pray. Their salvation was more near than they could have ever realized.
How about you? Where is Jesus calling you to trust Him this Day Before Easter? Don’t let the darkness around you keep you from trusting His promises. Salvation is near.