February 28, 2016
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
As Christians, we all agree that Jesus is going to return. How do each of us feel about that? Excited or conflicted? Happy or sad? With anticipation or dread?
With only 120 hours remaining before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ Himself specifically gave advice, assurance and hope to His disciples (and us) in Mark 13, by detailing signs before His ultimate, victorious return.
In giving these signs, Jesus answered two questions asked by some of His disciples: When will these things happen [affecting the current disciples] and what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled [end times affecting future generations]?” (Mark 13:3,4) The answers sometimes overlapped.
What Jesus says is going to happen (Mark 13):
- False messiahs
- Wars and rumors of war
- Earthquakes and famines
- The abomination that causes desolation – the antichrist, evil’s answer to God the Messiah, will desecrate and destroy the temple
- Disturbances in the heavens – observable unraveling of the universe
- Jesus returns in clouds with power and glory to make things right and undo death
- All Christians (His elect) are with Jesus for eternity.
The first four signs are only a warm-up, a beginning, which warn us to persevere and stay faithful, because God is about to birth everything He made the world to be. The “abomination that causes desolation” (the antichrist) starts the major, more serious calls for action to flee or be on our guard not to believe the lies and deception.
Clearly things are going to get really rough, but God has a specific plan and in Mark 13 He told His people all will be OK, and He showed them what to do.
What is our response to this information?
Be ready! (This mentioned seven times in Mark 13.) “Ready” does not mean setting dates for Christ’s return, or living in fear. In fact, the most common command in Scripture is “Do not fear.”
“Ready” does mean being sure we belong to Jesus Christ [that we are His people], and doing what we know we are supposed to be doing as servants of our Master as we wait for His return.
Take hope! It is reassuring to have these warnings, which show God will not be caught by surprise, and in the end it will all be OK. As we experience pain, difficulty and brokenness in this life, we can know for certain that God still has a plan, and that Jesus wins in the end! It is necessary to have this battle to undo death, but thanks to our God, Jesus Christ is victor and we in turn, as followers, win with Him.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the hope that there will be an end to the struggles we experience day in and day out. May we take hope as Your people. Open our hearts to help us be ready for Jesus’ ultimate victory. May we turn to your transforming power, so that we will be faithful and keep doing what we should be doing so that You will be glorified.