Sunday January 17, 2010 | Greg Boyd
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Jesus warned his disciples about the coming destruction of the temple. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD. Yet there are timeless truths to be found in this text regarding what it means to prepare for what lies ahead of us.
In our text for this week, we see that Jesus warned his disciples about the coming destruction of the temple. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70AD. Yet there are timeless truths to be found in this text regarding what it means to prepare for what lies ahead of us. Greg spent time in his message helping us see how the context for the passage points to our understanding Jesus to be addressing people in his time and place and warning about a specific event that was to happen later in that same century. When we overlook these contextual clues, we tend to assume that what Jesus is referring to is still in the future.
Greg pointed out that there are many preachers out there who are using this tragedy in Haiti to reinforce the idea that we are entering the end times. As a part of the case they are building they refer to the fact that earthquakes in general are on the rise in frequency and intensity. This is simply not supported by the facts. Greg showed a chart based on recent research on earthquakes that contradicts these scare tactics.
While it is true that Jesus was speaking primarily about the destruction of the temple in 70AD, it is also true that the end of the world as we know it could happen any time. The Bible warns us to live as though this is true so that we are always prepared for that eventuality. But what does it mean to be prepared for the end of the world?!?
Greg summarized what this means in three timeless truths:
1. Following Jesus has a price.
As Greg pointed out, according to today’s text, that price might include the following: being seized by oppressors, being put on trial, imprisoned, betrayed, hated by “everyone” and possibly even being executed!
This understanding of “counting the cost” of following Jesus is radically different than the prevalent idea that Jesus died to make our lives more comfortable.
2. Don’t cling to anything.
Jesus started this teaching by telling his disciples that the temple would be ruined. He then went on to say that really the whole world as we know it can and will be taken from us.
The meaning of the first truth (#1 above) is that Jesus is the only source of life for us. We put all of our trust, all of our faith, and get all of our life from Jesus.
3. Don’t worry about it.
When the first two truths above are true in our lives, we have no reason to worry about the end of the world as we know it. We simply follow Jesus and trust him for all that we are. We become dead to all of the fear mongers who try to make us react to the coming events with self-interest and self-preservation.