3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
We always want signs and time frames. God blesses faith, but we want shortcuts. For some people, the point is to be ready at the right time. God’s plan is for us to be ready at any and all times. Walk with Jesus and live by faith and you do not need to worry about signs and times.
Jesus warns of those who will prey on people looking for signs. Many are going to come in Jesus’ name, but they will not be Jesus or even sent by Jesus. Those false messiahs will “lead many astray.” Wars, natural disasters, and famines are taking place all over the globe. More than anything – the leading astray is at epidemic proportions. You need to immediately dismiss it whenever someone begins a statement with, “Jesus said ________________, but…..” You need to walk away whenever someone opens with, “The Bible says _________________, but….” Jesus is fully capable of saying exactly what He means and the Bible is a lot more clear than liberal theologians would have you believe.
Verses 9-13 are hard core. Jesus lays it out plain and simple. If you (disciples) remain true, you are going to be persecuted. You are going to suffer and be falsely accused. You are going to be hated because you refuse to compromise regarding the person, mission or message of Christ. I know my reformed brothers and sisters have embraced this scenario in which disciples get extracted before any of this unpleasantness takes palce, but that certainly is not consistent with the words of Jesus in this passage. We love happy endings. The good guys win. The guy gets the girl. In the cosmic battle between good and evil, The Revelation promises us that good eventually triumphs, but not before a lot of pain and suffering. This is why Jesus implores all of us to endure to the end.
The painting is St. Peter in Prison by Rembrandt.