Saturday after the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: St. Matthew 24:1-14 (NKJV)
1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus does not answer the question, “When will this be?” He will not permit His disciples to speculate concerning His return. Instead, He shapes their hope as a vigilant and responsible expectation by teaching them to read in all history the sign of His coming and the close of the age. All history is the sign; they are to see in all history, with its false hopes, its wars and disasters, and its apparently meaningless sufferings, the work of God carrying out His will as He moves toward final judgment.
The history of the Church is the sign. God will be at work in His persecuted, stumbling Church, manifesting His strength in her weakness. The task of the Church will be accomplished; the Gospel will be universally proclaimed, and then the end will come.
All history alerts the disciple for the end of history. In that history the fall of Jerusalem has a unique place; in Jerusalem the drama of God’s offer of His grace in the Son and man’s rejection of that grace, with the resultant judgment, are a miniature of the close of the age. Jesus has separated His own from the doomed city, and they need not share its fate. They are to flee.
Human nature is such that we always crave to know the future, though God time and again tells us it is not ours to know such things. Our weak faith will not allow us to trust wholly in the Lord’s care for us and His ability to carry us through all trials of this life and unto His eternal kingdom.
We pray: Lighten our darkness, O Lord, and by Your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers; for the love of Your only Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.