SanLo Community, an update for the week of June 17, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Mark 13:24-37, “His Return, Our Hope.” Although we are connected through technology more than any time in history, the human face-to-face connection is declining. Loneliness and depression is an epidemic on the rise in our society in general from a very young age to the elderly. What does feeling lonely or depressed have to do with our end time series, “Triumph and Tribulation”? How does the return of Jesus bring hope to the lonely? Hope is crucial to living. It is said that when hope is lost, people die. Without hope it is difficult to carry on. The good news is that God in His goodness offers unending hope. How does Jesus’ return impact hope?
1) When we ACCEPT the REALITY of Jesus’ return there is hope. (vv.28-33) Knowing without a doubt that Jesus is coming back helps us to cope with the challenges of life. When we accept His inevitable return, it assures us that there is more to living than what is seen. God’s perfect Word guarantees the second coming of Jesus even though all else will disappear. How do we know that Jesus’ return will happen? Jesus uses the fig tree as a metaphor, a sign for His return. He says to look for signs that something is about to happen, like the sign of the fig tree leafing out that lets you know summer is coming. This particular chapter of Mark refers to prophecies not in an orderly fashion. Jesus’ return is signified by an event that will happen within their lifetime. For the audience during that time they did not know that within a short period a prophecy would be fulfilled. Look at vv. 29-30, “When you see these things happening, recognize that He is near... this generation will not pass until all these things take place.” To understand “these things” we need to refer to verses 1-2. These things are the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Jewish community had no idea that within the next 40 years Rome would completely destroy the Temple as prophesied when Jesus said, “Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” This is the “generation” verse 30 is referring to. A generation in the Bible is around 40 years. This generation would not see the return of Jesus but they would witness the complete destruction of the temple, another sign of Jesus’ return. We know historically that Jerusalem and the Temple fell to Rome in A.D. 70. The fulfillment of this and hundreds of other prophecies of the Bible lends credibility and assurance of the reality of Jesus’ return. When we accept the reality of Jesus’ return, Jesus lives in and through us/you. You are the hope that sheds light upon those experiencing a dark place when you fully accept this truth and live it.
2) When we LIVE in the REALITY of Jesus’ return there is hope. (vv.34-37 and vv.24-27) If we say we accept the reality of Jesus’ return, the way we live should reflect this understanding. This doesn’t mean that we need to punish ourselves with guilt because we are not constantly living in the reality of Jesus’ return but it’s good to remind ourselves He will return. Knowing He will return offers hope when feeling hopeless and will change how you view life. Verses 34 through 37 emphasize that we must be on high alert for His arrival throughout the day. It is like a man away on a journey...be on the alert. Jesus uses a story of a master leaving his servant to take care of the house. Today the story can be compared to an employee put in charge while waiting for the return of the boss. As an employee you would not want to change the mission, values and vision. You would try to maintain the culture of the business. While we wait for the return of Jesus we maintain the culture of Christ which is a culture of hope. Horrific events about the tribulation are described in previous verses up to and including verse 25 but verses 26-27 end with good news to encourage us and let us know there is triumph after tribulation. “They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory and then He will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” After much sorrow we can look forward to a time of glory. Things will be awful for a period but Jesus will gather His people for a fantastic reunion! These portions of Scripture remind us that we are living on borrowed time. When we grasp this reality it reminds us to appreciate those we are in contact with and affects how we live. As followers of Christ we know for a fact that time is limited, we of all people should attempt to make good use of the life God has given us. I pray that we become a people who create a culture of hope in a world filled with hopelessness. One way hope is felt is through love. Living in the reality of Jesus’ return might be helpful to overcome loneliness by providing a safe place, a sanctuary of peace through worshipping Him. You might be the sanctuary of comfort by reaching out in love. Live well preparing for Jesus’ return and let your actions reflect the hope He offers. You can find hope knowing that Jesus came to this earth to restore your relationship with our perfect Father God. Fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and father figures, this day we celebrate you. It is also a day to remember your high calling to represent God the Father to your loved ones. For the rest of us, on this Father’s Day, look to the Father, your Heavenly Father and be ready for Jesus by creating a culture of hope through His word, prayer, words of kindness and even songs of praise. In and through our Father we have the power of the Holy Spirit to experience love and hope for ourselves and others.