Matthew 24 captures Jesus’ most complete teaching on His return at the end of the age. But He does not address only the end times, He also discusses the fall of Jerusalem which would happen less than 40 years from this sermon.
This is a good word for us at ECF today. Bear with me.
When Jesus talks about what will happen when Jerusalem will be sacked by the Romans, He includes this interesting statement – one which is very timely for you and me today: Matthew 24:28 (ESV) — “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Fallen human nature, being what it is, will invariably seek to capitalize upon any human tragedy. In the aftermath of every disaster we’ve witnessed in our lifetime, there have always been those who swooped in to take advantage. The current crisis is no different. We should expect to see some price-gouging for necessities. Fear-mongering to sell fake cures and preventatives. Finger-pointing to play off of our suspicions in order to garner political support or to tear down those in power. The promulgation of fantastical theories to keep people in suspense in order to use their fear to some other end. Media hype to sell time to their advertisers and push a particular point of view – for the larger their readership/viewership – the more valuable the advertising seconds and minutes become. And even those in the name of Christ hawking their latest books and DVDs filled with “prophetic” insights to give us the inside track on it all. “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Know it. Be aware of it. Jesus told us it would be this way then, and it remains true. And DON’T get swept up in any of it.
The 2nd vital thing we get from this important chapter is that these kinds of global disasters are not only to be expected, they are but “the beginning of the birth pangs.” In other words, they are part and parcel of the things which will precede His coming and are not to be looked at as some unprecedented new thing. We are to expect things like Covid-19, geo-political upheaval, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the like until He comes. That we in the US in our generation have been spared so much, is no indication that such ease is supposed to be a norm to which we must always return. I am grateful for the prosperity and luxury our time and place in history has afforded us – but it is not owed us in any way – nor are we to think it strange if and when it is greatly interrupted. Jesus plainly told us it would happen. Ours is not to frantically try to establish old norms, as much as it is to live Christ well in the new norms we are presented with. Now is the time to demonstrate to the rest of the World why we don’t panic and chase after every conspiracy and method to put down the rise of the anti-Christ etc. Jesus said anti-Christ would come. We can’t stop that. He said the world would suffer upheavals. We can’t stop that either. He told us disasters will come – and so they will. And knowing He knew it would be like this and told us to be ready and promises to bring us safely home to Himself ought to free us from much needless worry and stress. Will there be stress? Of course! Is it either outside of His plans purposes or disregarded by Him? Of course NOT!
The 3rd thing we need to see here is how we cannot attach unique eschatological importance to Corona – given Jesus’ explicit and repeated warnings in this passage. In every generation when such things as the Bubonic Plague or others have greatly challenged humanity – some in the Church have risen up to say this is THE sign that Jesus is going to come within such and such a time frame. And yet, in this powerful sermon by Jesus, after speaking about all of these predicted difficulties – He says:
Matthew 24:36 (ESV) — 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Matthew 24:42 (ESV) — 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Matthew 24:44 (ESV) — 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Don’t let some “vulture” tell you that he or she has the inside track on what Jesus repeatedly says cannot be known. They are either deluded or lying. Trust Jesus’ words, not theirs.
In all of this then, let us commit ourselves to trusting our Lord to BE Lord over it all. And let us seek the Wisdom of His Word and the power of the Spirit to ourselves capitalize on these days for the glory of Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom. We have new, technological ways to stay together and encourage one another in the faith – to continue growing in the image of Christ; to show mercy and compassion to those around us; and especially to demonstrate to the world why we do not cower in fear. Because our Christ reigns. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is not surprised by any instance of what we face. He is faithful to all of His promises. Even the very gates of Hell cannot prevail against His Church – let alone a virus.
We are His and He is ours. Let’s keep our eyes fixed upon Him in hope and joy.
Love you all: Reid