As most people, we are vulnerable to impressions. The disciples were greatly impressed with the temple. It was, no doubt, a magnificent building that had taken 46 years to complete. It rose high on Mt Moriah and overlooked Jerusalem. Jesus, nonetheless, was not impressed, and in fact, he said the day was fast approaching when the temple would be completely destroyed and every stone thrown down (Luke 21:6-7). That happened when the Roman General Titus unleashed his legions on Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
This was Jesus’ final address to his disciples before he entered his journey to the cross. He warned his disciples to be aware that bad things would continue to happen in this broken world as they always have. There would be false teachers claiming to be Christ, there would be wars, natural disasters and even strange happenings in the heavens. However, the most important thing for these disciples would be to remain faithful to the Lord. Our obedience to Christ is the most important thing in this Christian life.
John Newton wrote about obedience and faithfulness to Christ: “If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God. One to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire and the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village. It would be a matter of entire indifference to each, which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger. For the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will.”[i] If only we understood the importance of obedience to the will of God.
Jesus also pointed his disciples to the one great event of all history, and that is his second coming. He said to them that there will be incredibly strange and powerful signs in the heavens and the seas would roar and toss in Tsunami like ways. When we see these things happening, we should look up because our redemption is near: “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).
Jesus will come again but not as a babe in a manger. He will appear a second time but not on a lowly donkey. This time he will come in the clouds. There will be no mistaking his power and glory, for all will know who he is. The question for us is, can we remain faithful to the Lord during the time we are waiting for the Lord to return.
During World War II, the production demand of war materials required an ever increasing production of coal. During one critical time, Winston Churchill called together the labor leaders to enlist their support. This was no speech to Parliament that was carried on the airwaves, but rather a few simple words spoken in a private meeting. Churchill asked them to picture in their minds a parade, which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war. First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky. “Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ‘We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.” May we keep our faces to the coal as we serve God in our places of obscurity. One day we will see the big picture. Jesus said life would be filled with trouble, but he said, "By standing firm you will gain life" (Luke 21:19).