Intro: When looking at objects in the night sky that are far away, a telescope is a pretty amazing instrument. It collects and gathers light, bends the light to focus, and magnifies to help us observe things in greater detail. Wouldn’t it be great if a telescope could help us see and understand heaven and heavenly things?
Our passage today is part of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus is sitting with his disciples on the Mount of Olives and they are firing questions at him. Sure, Jesus is with them in person, but he is talking to them about heavenly things and angelic missions that are distant and in the future. They don’t know how to make sense of it all. So, the disciples ask Jesus to identify the harbinger [precursor] that will signal future events and his return. They want a spiritual telescope and Jesus is making them and us use FAITH!
Jesus begins by warning the disciples about the deception that will come from false prophets who will preach what people want to hear vs. preaching faith in the Word of God (Mat 24:4). This deception will diminish godly love. When we allow ourselves to fixate on signs rather than focus on Christ and his commands, we can open ourselves up to deception that leads to a lukewarm love and a dying faith. Let us never forget faith is the assurance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things not yet seen (Heb 11:1).
Then, Jesus tells the disciples [all Christ’s followers] they will be persecuted, hated, and put to death all over the world because they loyally follow him (Mat 24:9-13). As well, Christ shares about the end time tribulation and how the heavenly sky will tell a part of the story. Endurance is essential to go the distance in Christ. We may be tempted by evil to reject Christ’s standard and teachings on loving God and our neighbors, but we must stand strong in the strength of God through the Spirit. We must keep in mind our commission to represent Christ and release his LOVE—hold on to Christ and his words. This is what it means to live in Christ. “But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13).
The climax of the Discourse is the fact that Jesus’ return is unmistakable! All of heaven and earth will see it close up! No telescope necessary. Heaven and earth will pass away and the Word of God will be left standing magnified and in perfect focus, because all the LIGHT has been gathered.
Matthew 24:29-35 NLT
29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
32 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the Lamp of your Word that helps us better understanding how to manage our lives in these times in which we live. Continue to be the Light we need and help us hang on to our faith, hope, and love in Christ! In Jesus’ name. Amen.