Pentecost 26B , November 18, 2018, Mark 13:1-8, “When Will It All End?”

Do you remember Y2K?  Y2K was an abbreviation for the year 2000.  We entered a new millennium.  People predicted computer crashes which would disrupt life as we know it.  There was a panic. 

So, people thought about ways to survive just in case there really was a crash in civilization as we know it.   Get the car filled with gas; buy a couple of cases of bottled water; fill up your pantry with lots of canned goods, have plenty medical supplies and prescriptions on hand.  And billions of dollars were spent on updating computer systems. 

People wondered if 2000 was the end of time.  Some thought as we began a new millennium there would be nothing but destruction and chaos.

In religion apocalyptic literature describes the end time.  In fact, Chapter 13 of St. Mark’s Gospel has sometimes been called “The Little Apocalypse” because it deals with tragic signs of the end times.  Jesus told four of His disciples, Peter, James, John, and Andrew what they would see before the end of time would take place.

What Jesus said first of all must have really shocked His disciples.  As Jesus and His disciples left the massive and beautiful temple in Jerusalem, Jesus said it would all come crashing down – stone upon stone.  That was hardly believable for those disciples.  The temple was a magnificent building.  Who would attempt to destroy it?  Who could really bring it all down to dust and ashes?

But as we know just a few decades later in 70 A.D. the Romans did just that.  They destroyed the holy city, Jerusalem, and the magnificent temple King Herod built.

Later as Jesus and those disciple sat in a quiet place on the Mount of Olives, the destruction of the temple was still a topic of discussion.  So, the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when will these things happen?  And what will be the sign they are all to be fulfilled.” 

We can just imagine how anxious and fearful disciples must have been when Jesus predicted such destruction.  They wanted to be on the outlook for the signs when this would happen to save their own lives and lives of their family and friends.  When they saw the signs about destruction, they would be sure to pack up quickly and get out of that holy city, Jerusalem.

So what were those signs before the end would take place.  Jesus first of all said, Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.’”

We know that back in Jesus days on earth there was what we call Messiah pretenders.”  They were imposters all claiming to be the real Messiah.  Each one claimed to be the one God really anointed to save His people.  So Jesus warned His disciples to not be deceived by all these pretenders.  They may talk big, have loud voices, stir up some people, but they did not speak the truth.

Are there people today who want to deceive us?  Are there some today who would want to lead us astray from the truth?

Back in the 1970’s Sun Myung Moon led the Unification Church.  He believed that God chose him to complete salvation for humanity after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  In other words, Jesus needed help to save us from the threatening dangers of our sins and Sun Myung Moon was just the person to do it. 

And Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

And don’t forget about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in Guyana.  Jones led that cult of people to follow him in taking their lives.  How tragic and sorrowful when so many men, women, and children died.

And Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

Then remember another tragedy in Waco, Texas where Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, claimed to be the Lamb in the book of Revelation to prepare people for the second coming of Christ.  We know how it all ended with that shootout where lives were lost.

And Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you.

Even today there are those who want to lead us astray from the truth.  Some evangelists preach a prosperity gospel which says that if you give enough to a certain religious cause or ministry, God will bless you and give you wealth.  And sadly, in the news today is the Catholic Church which has to deal with abuse of children by parish priests.  How deceptive those priests were who preyed upon children and tried to lead them astray.

And Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

But there is another sign we face before the end comes.  Jesus said, When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

Just a few days ago on November 11, United States citizens remembered the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on Veterans Day. It was the “War to End All Wars.”  There were parades in cities.  There was visiting of grave sites and memorials.  Yes, that war which took thousands of lives as nation rose up against nation was remembered and perhaps you can remember names of past relatives who fought in that war.

But aren’t there still wars today?  How many years have we been fighting in Afghanistan?  How many years have Palestinians and Jews been in conflict?  Civil war is still ongoing in Syria.

And Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars…but the end is still to come.

So Jesus gave signs which point to the end of time – those who want to deceive us and turn us from the truth and warring nations doing battle.  Later on in Mark chapter 13 Jesus said that no one really knows the day or the hour of when the end will come.

But the good news is that at the end of time Jesus will come again.  Jesus, the Son of Man, will come with great power and glory.  He will send His angels to gather us, the elect, the faithful, so that we will live forevermore with Him in the heavenly kingdom.

What is it that we confess in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed about the end of time?  We confess that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and “the resurrection of the body.”

For all who believe in Christ there will be the joy of the resurrection.  No more deception from those who want to lead us astray.  No more fighting, conflicts, bombing, shooting and wars between nations.

At the end of time, Christ comes to give the faithful eternal life.  He comes to give us the resurrected life.  He comes just as He has promised to give all who believe in Him the peace and joy which will never come to an end.

Thanks be to God.


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