The idea that Jesus Christ is coming back to Earth in real space and time is – for many – a cockamamie idea to be shelved alongside rumours of Bigfoot and UFO sightings. Many Christians avoid talking about it lest they be associated - in the minds of other mortals - with those angry fanatics on the streets who wave signs about fire and boils which are about to descend on the populace because God loves them.
Apocalypse means ‘the unveiling’. The idea being that life - as we experience it - is a small room walled by a thin sheet. One day that sheet will be lifted up. Like a man whose eyes are open for the first time, we will be aware of a greater aspect of reality which has always been around us. It is there even now - we just don’t have the sense to perceive. But that will not always be so.
If we are to be faithful to Jesus' own words, we must include the message of his apocalypse and the Day of Judgement in our sharing of the Good News. To fail in this regard would make us unfaithful twats.
In Mark 13, Jesus begins answering questions about the temple but then starts referencing his apocalypse. He peers down the corridor of human history and relates to his disciples what he sees. Before his apocalypse, there will be deception (v5), wars (v7), and natural disasters (v8). He refers to these things as ‘birth-pains’ (v8). The analogy is clear: before the joy of the baby (his Kingdom) there will be agony. But once the time for delivery has come, then we will awaken to a new world that we cannot now imagine – not any more than a baby in the womb can imagine life out here.
Jesus’ followers are not to be exempt from uncomfortable conditions. He warns them, ‘You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues’ (v9). He lets them know that even natural families will not be a refuge should a person become part of his family - ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child… Everyone will hate you because of me’ (v12). This happens now - particularly in Islamic countries.
Everything will be shaken - human history will get bloodier before the unveiling occurs. But this should not cause us to go panic: stock up on bottled water, build a bomb shatter or acquire weapons with which to fight the zombies. What – according to Jesus - should we do?
- Expect hard times. While everyone else is hyperventilating, stand firm (v13). Know that God is overseeing all of human history.
- Read your Bible. Jesus talks repeatedly of false teachers and their sugary words. Satan’s method of drawing people away from Christ is deception (v5).
- Expect him to come suddenly. This life is just a dressing room for eternity. We do not know when the curtain of history will fall, only that we must act our part well. At the end, the Author will perfectly critique each one of us actors – and that is what matters most. ‘If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!”’(v36)
We can all be ready for that Day. In the next chapter of Mark, Jesus heads for the cross. He goes willingly to die for you and me. He paid for sin and then God raised him from the dead. Perhaps you have lived foolishly with your heart entangled with the concerns of this short life. There is mercy for you. Give him your sin and he will give you forgiveness. If you are reading this then your scenes have not yet all runout. The time between now and the beyond closes up fast - you can still get ready to meet the Author.______________________________________________________________________
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