Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Matthew 23:37-24:14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
“Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
“Why would a loving God send anybody to hell?” Have you ever been asked that one? Even the best response usually doesn’t help, because the question itself is based on an assumption that is erroneous. Cumberland Presbyterians do not believe that God sends anyone to hell. Rather, persons choose hell (which is separation from God according to our Confession of Faith) by refusing to accept God’s gift of salvation though Jesus Christ. The city of Jerusalem represented the entire nation, the entire Jewish people. The fact that Jesus, God incarnate, lamented over Jerusalem’s failure to embrace the long-awaited Messiah testifies to what Cumberland Presbyterians believe. Jesus lamented, not over some action of God against Jerusalem, but over the people’s rejection of God’s offer of salvation through the Messiah. In his lament, Jesus also dispels another error. Many people think, and even preach, that the Christian life is all sunshine and rainbows: “Once you accept Jesus, your life will be wonderful!” Well, Jesus does end his lament by explaining that, for believers, the end of the story is a happy one. But he is sure to point out that getting there is going to involve some unpleasant things.
Thank you, God, for the compassionate heart of Jesus. Thank you that Jesus did not ignore truth for the sake of comfort. Help me to do the same.
Go with God!