Jesus and his disciples were walking outside the temple in Jerusalem. It was a pretty remarkable building, 400 by 500 yards. It was still under construction, and had been for 50 years.
Someone commented on how remarkable it was.
“This isn’t going to last,” Jesus said. “It’s going to be more destroyed than it was the last time.”
That caught the attention of the disciples. Bad news usually does. Words of impending doom capture our imagination, feed our sense of dread.
“When?” they said. “How are we going to know? Is there going to be some kind of warning?
Does that mean that we’re going to die?”
When you are standing on land that will be destroyed, those are helpful questions. And those questions have, from time to time, dominated the imagination of people who follow Jesus. “When’s the end coming? When are you coming? Are we going to get out alive? Are we going to be left behind?”
We want to know. We want to be safe. We want to have some time to finish what we’re doing. We want to have time to put our affairs in order.
Jesus made some things clear. But not in the way they wanted, or we want.
This building will be destroyed.
There will be social upheaval.
There will be natural disaster.
There will be persecution specifically because of being connected to Jesus.
These are all to be expected and don’t mean the end of time is in the next couple weeks.
They do mean, however, that social upheaval, natural disasters, and persecution are to be expected. Our discomfort and death will happen.
Not because God is punishing us, but because they will happen.
So don’t spend your time trying to calculate what all these things mean.
Which some of us have done and continue to do.
Instead, spend the time doing what Jesus said to do. Love each other.