During Easter, we are using short videos to share a daily idea (linked to the sermon for Sunday) on a reflection helping us wade deeper into the worship idea. Watch today's video:
The video is a longer drawing out of the reflection below. You can watch one and read the other or choose one.
6 Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, 6 “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.”
7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?”
8 Jesus said, “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.”
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky. 12 But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will provide you with an opportunity to testify. 14 Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. 15 I’ll give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to counter or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and friends. They will execute some of you. 17 Everyone will hate you because of my name. 18 Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. 19 By holding fast, you will gain your lives.
20 “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that its destruction is close at hand. 21 At that time, those in Judea must flee to the mountains, those in the city must escape, and those in the countryside must not enter the city. 22 These are the days of punishment, when everything written will find its fulfillment. 23 How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant or for women who are nursing their children. There will be great agony on the earth and angry judgment on this people.24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be plundered by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are concluded.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, there will be dismay among nations in their confusion over the roaring of the sea and surging waves. 26 The planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken, causing people to faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. 27 Then they will see the Human One[c]coming on a cloud with power and great splendor. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is near.”
For Jesus, true worth lay in people like the humble widow, whose tiny gift only he saw. And worse lay ahead—the end of the Temple, where devout Jews met God. Great hardship and suffering would follow. It all happened— Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. Despite this world’s sad state, Jesus urged his listeners to keep faith whatever came. He told them, “Don’t be alarmed...raise your heads, because your redemption is near” (21:9, 28).
The Covid-19 pandemic did more harm than most of us could have dreamed. To Jesus' hearers, the Temple’s destruction sounded just that incredible. How can trusting God is near help you not to “faint from fear,” but hold your head up even in times of pandemic or war?
Life in a broken world gets tough. Scholar N. T. Wright said, “This is what it’s about: not an exciting battle, with adrenalin flowing and banners flying, but the steady tread, of prayer and hope and scripture and sacrament and witness, day by day and week by week.” In what ways can you sustain the “steady tread” of your faith journey even through personal or world crises? What models of patient, steady faith can you draw on?
Living Lord, I rejoice in your saving acts in the past. But even more, I eagerly look forward to the day when you fully establish your kingdom. Keep me faithfully on track until that day. Amen.