#317 – EASTER TUESDAY- HOW TO STAND FIRM (30/3/21)
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The death and resurrection of Jesus began a new era. We are now in the ‘Last Days’. We are in a period of waiting for His return and the restoration of all things.
On the Tuesday of Easter Week, Jesus taught His disciples about the signs -‘the birth pains’- preceding His return. Jesus urges us to ‘keep watch’, be ready, and not fall away whilst waiting.
The destruction of the temple
‘Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “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.”’ (Matthew 24:1-2)
Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This took place in A.D 70. Jesus has brought in the New Covenant. With His death for sin, He has become our sacrifice, our High Priest and we have become the temple of God.
Jesus continues by teaching that during these Last Days, there will be many false saviours who will tempt us away from our devotion to Jesus.
‘As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.’ (Matthew 24:3-5)
False saviours come in the form of false religions; they come in the form of any false philosophy that tempts us to trust in anything over and above God; false saviours also come in the form of wealth, technology, career… a false saviour is any approach to life that usurps the place of Jesus from our hearts.
War, Famines, Earthquakes
Along with false saviours, Jesus warns us that there are many things that can cause us to lose hope.
‘You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.’ (Matthew 24:6-8)
The signs spoken of are the kinds of things that can cause people to doubt that there is a God. They can also cause us to be ‘alarmed’. Our faith is tested through such events. Jesus reminds us that these are all a part of the ‘birth pains’.
Persecution, Deception, Discouragement, Coldness
Added to all this, Jesus teaches us to be ready for persecution, deception and discouragement leading to our losing our love.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:9-12)
Those first disciples faced great persecution. Christians, throughout these last days, will face persecution at different intensities. Right now, in different parts of the world, Christians are losing their livelihoods and their lives because of Jesus. False prophets thrive where people are worried and fearful. During this Covid pandemic, many are ready to listen to false teachers of various kinds. The devil has schemes. If he can’t distract us with false teachers, he will try to spread disillusion and cynicism which leads to ‘the love of most will grow cold’.
RESPONSE - STAND FIRM!
‘…But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ (Matthew 24:13-14)
On this Easter Wednesday, Jesus is showing us the nature of these Last Days. We don’t live in Disney Land! We live in a fallen and passing world in which the ‘birth pains’ are painful. However, labour comes with the promise of the new birth of all things. Jesus wants to remind us that throughout these Last Days, He wants us on His mission to take the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ to all nations. Have we allowed persecution, deception and discouragement, to cause our love to grow cold?
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