Today's Lectionary Text
Matthew 24:1-22Now Jesus left the temple and was going away. His disciples came to point out to him the temple buildings. He responded, “Do you see all these things? I assure that no stone will be left on another. Everything will be demolished.”
Now while Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”
Jesus replied, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the Christ.’ They will deceive many people. You will hear about wars and reports of wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in all sorts of places. But all these things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end. They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name. At that time many will fall away. They will betray each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because disobedience will expand, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations. Then the end will come.
“When you see the disgusting and destructive thing that Daniel talked about standing in the holy place (the reader should understand this), then those in Judea must escape to the mountains. Those on the roof shouldn’t come down to grab things from their houses. Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes. How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children. Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter or on the Sabbath day. There will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see. If that time weren’t shortened, nobody would be rescued. But for the sake of the ones whom God chose, that time will be cut short.
We tend to keep the happier images of Jesus at the tops of our minds. And who could blame us? This is the Jesus who performed miraculous healings. This is the Jesus who loved children, who cared for friends, and who even raised people from the dead.
But at times we are reminded of the seriousness of Jesus’ mission on earth. While he came to show us the purest example of what it means to love others, he also came to reconcile us with God so that we can spend an eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. And sometimes, that meant Jesus had to shock his audience — not with wild accusations and prophecies, but with the harsh words of truth about what was to come.
In today’s passage, Jesus talks about the destruction of the temple (verse 2). In an era when many Jews looked at the temple as indestructible, such words would have been jarring. They couldn’t fathom any such calamity happening to Jerusalem again — though they would have been well aware of the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC. I have seen the only remaining part of the temple Jesus walked in. The Western Wall is not the temple, but rather a retaining wall for the enormous structure. It serves as a reminder to the Jewish believers of today of the grandeur and scale of that most holy of places.
Our “inner temple” today is not a physical location as much as it is our hearts — a dwelling place for our loving Savior. But we must heed Christ’s advice. If we are not careful, the false prophets we encounter today — the ones who tell us what we want to hear instead of the truth — will lead us astray.
That’s not a happy, care-free thought. But neither was all of the mission Jesus completed by sacrificing himself on the cross. May we all thank God for this tremendous act of mercy!
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, help us to hear and understand the lesson you have for us. Help us to hear what we must to grasp the enormity of your sacrifice, the depth of your love, and the extraordinary grace that you provided through Jesus on the cross.
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