The Temple Will Be Destroyed
(Mark 13.1,2; Luke 21.5,6)
1After Jesus left the temple, his disciples came over and said, “Look at all these buildings!”
2Jesus replied, “Do you see these buildings? They will certainly be torn down! Not one stone will be left in place.”
Warning about Trouble
(Mark 13.3-13; Luke 21.7-19)
3 Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him in private and asked, “When will this happen? What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?”
Don't let anyone fool you. 5Many will come and claim to be me. They will say they are the Messiah, and they will fool many people.
6You will soon hear about wars and threats of wars, but don't be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn't the end. 7 Nations and kingdoms will go to war against each other. People will starve to death, and in some places there will be earthquakes. 8But this is just the beginning of troubles.
9 You will be arrested, punished, and even killed. Because of me, you will be hated by people of all nations. 10Many will give up and will betray and hate each other. 11Many false prophets will come and fool a lot of people. 12Evil will spread and cause many people to stop loving others. 13 But if you keep on being faithful right to the end, you will be saved. 14When the good news about the kingdom has been preached all over the world and told to all nations, the end will come.
Many people, even non-Christians, appreciate Jesus the teacher, Jesus the healer, Jesus the provider, even Jesus the Saviour. But Jesus the end-time prophet is another matter altogether. Jesus who heals, feeds, teaches beautiful Kingdom of God principles and who redeems by his death on the cross is attractive to many. But when he speaks about what is going to happen generally in the world, and specifically to his followers, it can be shocking.
This is certainly the case in his message in Matthew 24. Jesus and his disciples have just left the Jerusalem Temple and his disciples draw his attention to the buildings. No doubt they did so with great pride – the Temple was the heart of both the Jewish religion and Israeli national pride. It is likely that the disciples weren’t prepared for Jesus’ comments: “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
The shock of this statement had an effect on these disciples, and they needed to know more. So when Jesus and the disciples had some private time, the disciples ask the obvious question: when will this happen?
Jesus didn’t give the date and time, although with the help of history we know that this prophecy was perfectly fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed Herod’s Temple. Instead Jesus took the opportunity to speak of the greater issue of his coming and the end of the age.
Most of it isn’t pretty – it’s the stuff of today’s headlines. It all sounds so familiar. More Christians have been put to death for their faith in the past couple of decades than in all the centuries before. The beginning of the birth pangs?
But as is so often the case with Jesus, there is good news. The gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. This doesn’t make the headlines as much as the bad stuff. But this is happening now too. There are more missionary sending nations than ever before and more indigenous ministry taking place. We live in exciting times. Yes, Christian persecution is worse than ever. Yes, many in the West are turning from the faith. Yes, there are many false prophets these days. But the gospel of the Kingdom is being preached in the whole world. Just as Jesus said it would. Then the end will come.
Dear Lord, We pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith in you. Protect them, Father, and give them the grace to stand for you, no matter what. Help us to stand in the truth and to stand firm in our faith, loving you and others in your name. Keep us passionate in taking the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world. In Jesus’ power and great name. Amen.