Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back?
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.
1. When will Jesus return? It naturally followed that if the discples understood the message of Jesus – the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus – and His predicted retur – when would that happen. While modern day sooth sayers try to name the date and time, and that is silly and not biblical, there were signs of the time, just as the plants ripen to bear fruit.
2. Signs Before His return - the great deceiver and deception. ‘For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many. Matt 24:5. This is a summary of the great deceiver, the one predicted as the anti-Christ, with the following traits: Intelligent: Revelation 13:18; Daniel 7:8. Charismatic Speaker: Daniel 7:8 Revelation 13:5. Crafty Politician: Daniel 9:27; Revelation 17:12, 13, 17. Distinct Physical Appearance: Daniel 7:20. Military Genius: Revelation 4; 17:14; 19:19. Economic Genius: Daniel 11:38. Blasphemer: Revelation 13:6. Utterly Lawless: 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Selfish, Ambitious Egomaniac: Daniel 11:36, 37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Greedy Materialist: Daniel 11:38. Controlling: Daniel 7:25. Proud and Self-exalting Above God and Everything: Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians. 2:4.
3. Signs before His return – international events. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8. The deceiver will bring international betrayal and chaos. And these are only the beginning of birth pains.
National and international events cause, for some, fear and anxiety. Everything nailed down seems to be coming up. Certainly the current political environment of lawlessness, terrorist activities in our cities, no enforcement of our borders, diminishment of police, rampant inflation – all bring enough consternation. But in the end times, harder times are coming. It is the task of Christians to understand the world we live in, and to live as salt and light, modeling the beatitudes in the days God gives. A life of mercy, kindness, faith, hope and love toward others – these are the hallmarks of the disciple even during hard times. Blessings to you this week.