Jumapili, 24 Julai 2016

What is the Sign of Your Coming?

  “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3).   The supreme moment was approaching, the critical hour when the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator of the universe and owner of the heavens and the earth, would descend to the depths of humiliation. Nailed to a cross reserved for the worst criminal, He would pay the infinite price to ransom the human race. The price would be His own blood. But through that blood He would rescue humanity from the power of death. A dense cloud of sorrow and suffering hung over the disciples like a messenger of doom. But they did not perceive it. Maybe they were too human to understand the things of the Spirit. The Master, however, was well aware of the solemnity of the hour. While in a short time anguish and loneliness would overwhelm them, He didn’t want them to suffer. He loved them with an incomprehensible and infinite love. How could He make them understand so that they would be prepared for what was about to happen? The Bible account says: “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him” (Matthew 24:1). “Teacher,” they said, “behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1). Even though the eternal destiny of humanity would be decided in a few hours, the disciples were concerned only about material things--the buildings of the Temple. The human mind is fascinated by glitter--by the things it can perceive through its senses. The disciples could see the Temple. They could touch the polished blocks of limestone and admire its gold furnishings and mighty columns. Twenty centuries have passed and people are still fascinated by what they can perceive with their physical senses. The spiritual dimension of life, however, continues to be elusive. Once again, we are approaching a critical point in history. But the great climax of events that looms just ahead seems to be lost in the shadow of our humanity. The end of time is hovering over us, but like the disciples of old, we’re oblivious to it. All our attention is concentrated on the things we can view with our physical eyes--the wars, violence, earthquakes, hurricanes, global warming, social calamities, and injustice that surround us on every side. Those things fill our whole field of vision. But we are blind to their meaning. So we look for quick-fix human solutions to remove the dark shadows that cover the land. On that occasion, Jesus’ answer to His disciples left them perplexed. “Do you not see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matthew 24:2). The disciples heard their Master’s words and concluded that when He said that this fabulous building would some day lie in ruins He must be referring to the cataclysm that would take place at the “end of the age.” In their minds how else it could be any other way. Jesus had talked to them about His return, so they reasoned that it must be at that time--at the end of the age--when the Temple would be destroyed. Nevertheless, such a thought was extremely painful to the disciples. It hurt them in a way that they didn’t know how to explain. All their hopes in life centered on casting off the hated Roman yoke from their nation. For generations their people had been waiting for the Messiah who would take possession of the Temple and lead the nation to victory. Now Jesus was telling them that the Temple would lie in ruins. The disciples had left everything they had to follow Jesus. They had accepted Him as Lord of their lives. Now Jesus seemed obsessed with death and destruction. Much as they might try, they couldn’t make sense of what He was saying. That sad afternoon they descended into the Kidron Valley as if they were going down into the valley of death. It was a silent and solemn procession. What Jesus had told them continued to disturb the disciples, but they don’t have the courage to ask Him any more as they walked along. As they climbed the slopes of the Mount of Olives they were still troubled. When they had seated themselves on the mountainside, they returned to the theme of the destruction of the Temple, opening their hearts to Jesus. “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Then the Lord began to paint a picture of the world situation that would precede His return to Earth. He talked to them about wars, rumors of war, earthquakes, false christs, and of persecution to come. Jesus had a special message for the disciples. They would be witnesses to the Roman fury that would destroy the Temple only about 30 yeas later. Part of the signs of Mathew 24 refer to what would happen just before the destruction of the Temple. But Jesus had a message for us today as well, because He also announced what would take place at the end of the world. As in Jesus time, people today urgently need to read between the lines, to see beyond the terrifying events of our time and understand their meaning. The signs of the return of Christ presented in the Bible are a faithful description of what is happening today, a portrait of the present world and its constant struggles with humanity pitted against itself and with the mad fury of nature that can no longer bear human bondage and is rebelling like a wild colt. The following is a description of some of the things taking place today, events that will happen more frequently as the end approaches. It is an urgent message. But it is also a message of hope—an announcement of a new day and a new world. Our planet seems trapped in great darkness. The shadows around us are frightening. But they are also encouraging, because they are an evidence that the King is coming. The glorious dawning will soon be here. Experience has taught us that the denser the darkness, the nearer the new day. The darkness that surrounds us should give us great hope. I know by personal experience how valuable such hope is. I needed it one night, when I was lost in the jungle. I had walked all day and my strength was gone. The Indian guide who was with me thought it would be best to sleep by the edge of the river. “Tomorrow will be another day,” he told me, “and you will be in better shape. It’s useless to continue walking in the darkness.” So we stopped. The darkness seemed to permeate even the air that I breathed. It felt as if it was brushing against my skin. All lives have those nights that are heavy and dark with sadness. Mystic poet Saint John of the Cross called them “dark nights of the soul.” That night in the jungle was for me one of those—a night that seemed eternal. I could not sleep. The night sounds and the darkness seemed threatening. It must have been about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning when I asked the guide if the night was getting darker or was it just my imagination. “It’s not just your imagination,” he told me. “The night really has gotten darker. That means that in a few minutes the sun will be coming out.” And it was so. Ten minutes later we saw the first rays of dawn, and soon the sun crept over the horizon. When I could see its golden rays smiling at me in the distance I knew I was safe. The night of this world is getting darker and darker. Grief, pain, and death surround us Injustice, misery, and hunger lurk everywhere. At times it seems that all is lost. But it isn’t. The night of this world will soon end. The sunlight of a new day will burst on the horizon. And even while we wait for Jesus’ return, He is here with us now. “Stay by my side,” he says through His Holy Spirit. “Trust me to go with you through the hours of darkness that are still ahead.” What will you do? Will you accept His invitation? The answer is yours alone.” All excerpts from Signs of Hope by Alejandro Bullón http://sharinghope.com/?shared=93

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