Don’t Be Deceived or Frightened...Do Be Patient
“[Jesus] replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”” - Luke 21:8-9
We’re two weeks into our Sunday morning series - What Time Is It? - taking a closer look at Revelation, and we still haven’t gotten into the images and issues that most often come to mind when dealing with the book. As of yet, no horse and rider, no dragon, no beast and the only numbers we’ve seen are sevens… which interestingly enough, we’ll see a lot of throughout the book!
In the middle of this, I want to offer you today a pastoral word of caution.
Jesus did the same thing.
When Jesus began his ministry, there was a tremendous appetite for social and spiritual upheaval in Jerusalem and Judea. It wasn’t just the oppression of the Roman empire, but that was part of it. It was also corruption and a real sense that people had lost their way and lost their way to God.
Enter John the Baptist and his ministry of repentance. He went out into the desert and called people to turn away from sin and toward God. He baptized them and promised that there was one coming who was greater and more powerful, who would usher in the Kingdom of God.
Enter Jesus. Enter the promised one - by John, by the Scriptures, by God - and Jesus by word and by miraculous deed, ushered in the Kingdom of God. And over time, as people began to hear and see what was going on, they began to ask a simple question “Is this the time that was promised?” Or really, “Is this the end of the world?”
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus has basically three important words that I believe should be helpful for us, both in this time and as we journey through the tricky book of Revelation.
First, Jesus tells people not to be deceived. There are many people who want to sway you to believe this or that, who want to stoke fear or favor, who want to gain prominence and prestige - be very careful. As your pastor, I beg you to listen, watch and read everything with a large grain of salt and before you pass along that “you’ll-never-believe-this” piece of information - do a little digging. Do the research to discover whether or not it’s true before passing it along.
Second, Jesus tells people not to be frightened. There are many real dangers in this world. War and disease are real enemies of humanity, as is famine and isolation and anxiety - and yet to these and every other real and potential danger, Jesus tells us not to be afraid. We follow and worship the One who overcame death. If he tells us not to be afraid, he who died and is alive again, then what reason could we possibly have to fear… anything in this world?
And Third, Jesus basically tells people to be patient. All of the things we fret about, all the disasters we expect and some we don’t will come. That this doesn’t mean it’s the end. In fact, a whole bunch of bad things have happened in this world… and “the end” hasn’t happened. We need to be patient and endure whatever we face.
Don’t be deceived. Don’t be frightened. Do be patient.
I know it’s harder to live out than it is to write out, but I believe, together, it’s possible.
Welcoming people to Grow in Jesus,
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