SEPTEMBER 28- Nº 271 Matthew 24:1 – 25:46; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36
As Jesus was leaving the Temple, one of his disciples called his attention to the magnificent structure. “Look at these buildings!” he exclaimed. “See how massive and beautiful the stones are!” It looked invincible. But Jesus replied, “The time is coming when not one stone will be left on top of another. Every one of them will be thrown down!” Jesus and his disciples left the city and walked to the Mount of Olives. They sat down and looked across the valley at the Temple. Some of the disciples were wondering what Jesus meant when he said the Temple would be destroyed. Privately they came to him and asked, “When will this happen? And how will we know when it is time for you to return?” They were beginning to understand that Jesus would soon be leaving them. As they sat there, Jesus shared many details about the coming destruction of both Jerusalem and the Temple (which actually took place in 70 A.D.). Then he described a terrible time of tribulation that would take place before he returned. He explained that prior to that, the message of the Gospel would continue to spread until it had reached all nations. Only then would the end come (Matthew 24:14). He also made it clear that no one—not even he, as God’s son—knew when that time would be. Jesus warned his disciples to constantly be prepared for his return. He told them a parable about ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. He was gone a lot longer than they expected, and they fell asleep. He finally showed up at midnight. Five of the virgins had foolishly neglected to put oil in their lamps, so they couldn’t go out to greet him. The other five had kept their lamps full, so they were prepared. The five who were caught off guard asked the others, “Will you please lend us some of your oil?” The virgins whose lamps were full knew they wouldn’t have enough if they shared it. “Go quickly and buy some for yourselves,” they said. But by the time the foolish virgins returned, the wise ones had already gone into the wedding banquet and the groom had shut the door. The unprepared girls were left standing outside pounding on the door. “Sir! Sir! Please let us in!” they begged. But the groom replied, “I can’t let you in. I don’t know you.” It was too late—they should have been ready! Jesus told them another parable. It was similar to one he had told before about a man who gave each of his servants money, then left to go on a long journey (see #265 - September 22). This time he gave different amounts based on the servants’ individual abilities. The first servant received five talents; the second received two; and the third received one. While the master was gone, the first two servants each doubled the amount of money they had been given. But the third one didn’t even try. He buried his talent and did nothing with it. When the master returned, he was very pleased with the first two. He congratulated them and rewarded them. But the lazy servant had to give up the one coin he had been given. He was thrown out of the house into the darkness. Jesus wanted his disciples to know that if they were faithful, they would be rewarded when he returned.
We have no idea when Jesus will return—but we must always be ready. And while we wait, we must be faithful to complete the tasks we have been assigned using the abilities we have been given. One of the main assignments we must complete during Jesus’ absence is to spread the Gospel message. How are you doing?