In these four Sundays leading up to Advent (the lead up to Christmas) the gospel readings usually reveal themes of Christ’s coming again in glory, the establishment of his kingdom and his judgment of all peoples. I like to call this period “Kingdomtide” because it is all about the coming Kingdom.
Today we hear Jesus foretelling the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which the disciples link in their minds to Christ’s coming again and the end times. Like the disciples, we may want to say to Jesus, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus’ reply, to his disciples was, far from comforting or re-assuring. He predicts confusion, wars, natural disasters and the personal suffering of his followers at the hands of others. He says that life will become so difficult, frightening and unpredictable that many will turn away from their faith and even betray those they once loved.
In spite of all this, Jesus then also promises that “this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world.”
We know that the first followers of Jesus did indeed spread the news of God’s kingdom throughout their world. If we are doing what we should we are continuing that joyful but sometimes dangerous duty, as they and many of our ancestors did, down through the Centuries.
Jesus’ words could make us very uncomfortable. We live in a world where we can see in our own homes every night on our television or computer screens, the fulfilment of Jesus words. Especially for those of us, who know History, we see earthquakes and tsunamis, wars, terrorism and persecution of Christians under oppressive regimes. Does this mean that the return of Christ is imminent? We need to accept that indeed we are living in the end times! There must be an urgency now about sharing our faith and the gospel with all we are able. That being said, how we share that message also matters more now than ever.
Many in our modern world will reject Jesus if we “beat them over the head with a Bible.” It is more important I believe to walk the walk, and live Holy lives showing Christ in your love and forgiveness for others. Accepting others without judgement because:
I believe that gives a greater witness of Christ love than those preaching on a street corner. Although they also have their place, if Christ calls them to do so, they should do so.
What Jesus says about this to his disciples, he says also to us. He is very clear that no-one, not even he himself, will know when the day will be that signals the end of the age. He warns us against making that prediction or being distracted by those who claim to know or who, indeed, claim to be the returning Messiah. Instead focus on being a good servant, found praying and doing his work when he comes – whenever that may be.