Inspiration from Matthew 24:1-13
The circumstances under which this text comes about are very interesting. The entire chapter 23 of the Gospel of Saint Matthew is a declaration of the divine sentence on God’s deliberately disobedient People Israel, epitomized by the clergy (the Pharisees and the Scribes) in their hypocrisy. The Lord takes time describe in what ways the religious establishment was misleading God’s People and warns His disciples and the multitudes not to follow the same path as their leaders, namely, playing the religious game just to be seen by people. He concludes this chapter by pronouncing a judgment on Jerusalem, where most clergy lived. However, as usual, His disciples do not get it!
This is like a lot of us today. We stubbornly hang onto our habits. God gives us clear warning upon clear warning, but we ignore it and go on with our lives as if nothing had happened. Just one example: divorce rates are getting ridiculously higher and higher everyday. Book upon book, workshop upon workshop, sermon upon sermon, marriage experts are warning us about the dos and the don’ts of marriage, but we are still jumping into marriage without thinking. We just go with our feelings, although we witness the disastrous consequences of decisions made on the basis of intense feelings!
So, just moments after the Lord had pronounced a frightening judgment on Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples approach Him for comments about the beautiful architecture of the temple (v. 1). The Lord in His unparalleled patience answers them: “See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (v. 2) Obviously, the disciples were shocked by the Lord’s answer. And just like a young person or an adult who thinks they are the cutest thing on earth and are out to strut their stuff, the last thing they are ready to hear is that they are about to day. It must have taken them a while to digest.
Meanwhile, the Lord goes to Mount Olives. There His disciples approach Him, privately (elaborate on the exclusive character of this meeting), to ask for details (when and how? V. 3). Notice how the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem appears to be intertwined with the end of the world! I don’t know about you, but I’m glad they asked. The Lord then revealed this powerful prophecy to them as an answer: “…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Watch your views on the majority here! If you think great numbers are a sign that a practice or habit is right, think again! The Lord went on with the prophecy. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet… and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” Does this sound familiar to you? The Lord continued. “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Notice that wars, rumors of wars, famines and terrifying epidemics are nothing compared to what’s ahead of us! “Then shall they deliver you [the disciples] to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Check yourself here: are you a true Christian, and everybody loves you? Something is wrong with your Christianity! There is no way you can be so charming that everybody will love you! No way! Christianity is warfare: you hurt the works of darkness, and the works of darkness hurt you. No way around suffering when you really love Jesus the Christ!
The prophecy continues. “And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” Let me ask you a question, What usually gets people sure enough offended? Discomfort, of course! People will love you to the extent that they feel comfortable with you. Sometimes they do not mind a tiny bit of discomfort, as long as they can anticipate a happy return to the comfort or pleasure. If you do not or cannot guarantee that return to comfort and pleasure is very near, you’re in trouble! It amazes me what people are willing to lose to gain pleasure. Nothing seems precious enough to give up for pleasure! A bright career? That’s nothing in comparison to a couple of hours with this pretty girl/woman or boy/man! My soul? What do you mean? God is too good to send me to hell. Why do you want to take all the “good” things out of life? Didn’t Jesus Himself change water into wine? There’s nothing wrong with drinking a bit of alcohol, or smoking a cigarette. Why do you always have to bring God into everything? We are all Christians, but you think you’re better than other believers. S/he too rigid in his/her interpretation of the Bible. Examples like these abound. But these set the stage for the deceiver.
The prophecy continues. “And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.” You either accept the truth or the lie. Jesus is the Truth. He is the Son of God the Creator of heaven and earth and all that’s therein. How do you I know I have accepted the truth? The Lord let’s us know that we are truly His and blessed when we practice what we know (John 13:17). We are making it easy for false prophets to deceive us because we refuse the discomfort that comes with obeying the Word of God. Who are the false prophets? They could be religious or secular people.
The prophecy continues. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall was cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” The question is, do you love Jesus? I know many will be quick to say yes. Another question will then be, have you checked your love lately? If your answer is yes, then the next question is, is your love hot (passionate), cold or in between? You do not have to answer to me here. Your answer is to the Lord who is all knowing. Just know that anything less than passionate love for the Lord won’t do! If you know that you know that you know that your love for Jesus the Messiah is hot, say ALLELUIA! If your love has grown lukewarm, say, HELP ME JESUS!
The Bible tells me that God is love. He loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to be sacrificed for our salvation. In His farewell address to His disciples, so to speak, He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13: 34-35) So, you think you love the Lord? Show the love sign! How did Jesus prove His love for us: “but God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) is your love of people for Christ sake or your feelings sake? In order for you to love people God’s way, we need to deny self, accept the personal discomforts that come with obeying the Lord, then only shall we be able to love people in a way that satisfies God. (Mark 8:34-36;). The Lord gave us a warning that those who are self-centered as opposed to God-centered shall not be able to enter eternal life (John 12:25). Another warning is found in Luke 13:27 and Matthew 25:41, that a lot of believers will be shocked that day because He will deny them in spite of their religiosity: “ …Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity, …”
Once again, if you know, for sure, that you do love the Lord with a passion that has remained burning, which is a daily spiritual challenge, say, ALLELUIA!
But if you honestly know that your love has grown lukewarm or cold, which is natural, say, HELP ME LORD! REKINDLE MY LOVE FOR YOU!
And if you never really cared about Jesus much, say, LORD FORGIVE ME AND HELP ME TO LOVE YOU!