5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, [Jesus] said, 6“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.”
7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “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.
9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
No doubt…we are definitely in a different time and place than we were just even 10 years ago.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I had a notification on my phone about the recent election –
It stated that the election was not over yet. The score was 49 democrats and 49 Republicans. A complete split right down the middle.
We are a divided nation.
It feels like that as a country, we cannot agree on one single thing. No one seems to want to compromise, meet the other half-way, or come to some kind of agreement that would allow us to move in a healthy direction.
How did all this happen? How in the world did we get to where we are today?
Why so much hate? Where in the world is grace? And how do we move forward in a country that is so divided?
What do we do when it is Power, and Control are the ends to the means?
The only reason nations are against nations – for example, Ukraine and Russia – is Power and Control over the people.
And even here in our very own country, we are a divided nation, where both parties want the power and control to make the decisions for the people of the United States.
Both sides of the parties seem to fear that the other side will win the people’s vote because there is no compromise. It seems that it is only one way or the other…. there is no middle ground. There is no gray area.
In our text today, Jesus predicts that these things will happen.
Jesus and his disciples had been worshipping in the temple. When they were coming out of the temple, there were some folks who were talking about the beauty of the Temple – how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts that had been dedicated to God.
I don’t know if this hit Jesus the wrong way, but it seems that he gets a little upset.
He doesn’t engage with the comments about the temple, but begins to let them know –
Well, look at it now because the day is coming when this temple will be all torn down – Not one stone will be left upon the other.
This was devasting news for them because the temple was precious to them. God resided in the temple. It was where they worshipped. And, if they were anything like us – which I’m sure they were – they spent tons of money keeping it up and doing repairs.
I imagine that the folks that heard Jesus say these things, it was upsetting for them.
But Jesus doesn’t let up…The Days will come…He begins to predict the future…
Be aware that you are not led astray. There will be people who try to say that they are the one – the Messiah who has come again.
There will be wars and insurrections…
Nation will rise against nation.
Kingdom against Kingdom.
There will be great earthquakes…famines, plagues, and dreadful portents…In other words, we will see horrendous signs from heaven that the end is near.
But even before all this happens…you will be persecuted and arrested because of your belief in Jesus. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you be brought before governors and kings.
You will even be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends. They will disown you and say that you have no kin with them – just like when Jesus was betrayed by Jesus. They may even kill you because of your belief in Jesus. Just as Jesus Himself was killed.
You will be hated because of your belief in Jesus Christ.
The time is near. Do not be terrified. These things must take place first.
What do you think? Are we there yet? Are we living and experiencing the end of times? Because the day is surely coming…
When I asked our youth last week, “Do you think that the United States is a Christian Country?”
They answered, “No.”
In a pew research center study, it states that if religious switching continues – meaning that Christians leave religion all together, Christians will make up less than half of the United States population just in the next few decades.
If our youth are right and the research is right… then you and I have much work to do and must face the reality that persecution will be more and more prevalent in the years to come.
The persecution that Jesus is talking about…where you will be persecuted and arrested…handed over to and synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.
I believe there will come a day when the government dictates whether or not we can have a sign in our front yard because we may offend someone who is not a Christian.
The time is near. Are we there yet?
And a bigger question…Are we ready for battle? Are we willing to put yourselves out there and defend Christianity for the sake of the Gospel?
Could this be a portent that Jesus is talking about – Could this be a horrific sign from heaven that the days are coming, when we are called to stand up for Truth for the sake of the Gospel?
Could this be the opportunity that Jesus is talking about that we are given to proclaim the Risen Christ?
I believe that we are living and experiencing the end of times.
And we now have the opportunity to speak the Truth even if it puts us at risk.
We are being called to stand for the gospel, even though we may offend someone.
The time is near that we tell others about the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion that we have with the Holy Spirit.
I wonder that whoever brought up the beautiful building with the beautiful stones and the dedicated gifts to God was now wishing they had not said anything at all…
Because a positive statement about the temple went quickly negative to the end of the world – the end of times.
It went from an admirable statement about their place of worship to how one day it will no longer stand.
It went from feeling good about what they had and loving their God to “Don’t be terrified.”
You know what I think bothered Jesus that day?
They had just been to worship and Jesus speaks with authority about the widow who gave her only two coins – She gave out of her poverty and all that she had that would have provided her meals for the week.
I wonder if Jesus may have been frustrated that they could see the temple adorned with beautiful stones and gifts that were dedicated to God – but could not see that it was God standing right before them?
I wonder that in Jesus’ frustration, did he not want to make them understand that it was not that building that was going to save them – but that it was He who came to Save them.
I wonder if Jesus wanted them to understand that God was not only in the Temple, but that God was with them – right then and right there in front of them.
They were looking straight in the eyes of God! And still they were only focused on the building.
In Jesus’ frustration, he wanted them to know…and for us to know…that these things…our building will one day all fall down…not one stone will be left upon another.
This is all temporary. And the days are coming when there will be nations against nations, wars and insurrections, and hatred because of your belief in me.
Do not be terrified but be willing to take this opportunity to proclaim the gospel of our Lord.
You don’t need an elevator speech, because Jesus promises to give us the words in His defense.
You see, when we speak up as Christians proclaiming the Risen Jesus Christ – no body, no one, will be able to withstand or contradict what we are saying – which is The Truth.
Yes, you may be hated for your beliefs, but Jesus promises that not even a hair on our heads will perish.
And because of your faithfulness and endurance, you may lose your life – this life on earth, but you will gain your soul.
In the movie, God is Not Dead, a college student is in a philosophy class where he is the only one in the class that is unwilling to sign a piece of paper that states that God is Dead.
He is challenged with proving to his classmates that God does exist. In the meantime, he risked failing the class, his high school girlfriend left him, and he had no support from his friends.
The movie demonstrates that when we stand up for God, God will give us the right words to say that no one can withstand or contradict us
The 2022 election has proven that we are a divided nation. Both parties are battling for power and control to lead our country into some kind of future –
As Christians we have the opportunity to stand up for what is right according to the Word of God.
I asked the questions…Why so much hate? Where in the world is grace? And how do we move forward in a country that is so divided?
There is only one answer…Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we have stepped aside and have not fought the good fight for our God to be in the midst of our lives…the lives of our children.
As a country, we continue to drift away from the very One that came to save us.
It is only our God – our Lord and Savior that has control of our destination and our future…
Not some politician who thinks they have all the answers…it is only Jesus Christ.
It is not rulers, Kings, or government officials that we will answer to, but Jesus Christ.
It is not this world that we risk being hated and persecuted for the belief of Jesus, but what matters if we are willing to risk our soul for the sake of the gospel.
The time is near. Do not be terrified. Believe in the One who came to save you…Knowing that not even a hair on your head will perish and that you will live.