And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-13)
Aware that his death was rapidly approaching, Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples, imparting important truths to encourage them after he was gone. We find one of the most famous in the book of Matthew, chapters 24-25, which has been dubbed the Olivet Discourse. In this section of Jesus’ teaching, he is describing for his disciples the trials and tribulations that his followers will endure before the end comes. This suffering can encompass wars, famine, earthquakes, hatred, betrayal, death, and more. Not exactly an encouraging picture!
For a follower of Christ, trials are not something to fear or dread, but something to expect. Jesus has promised us that they will happen! The encouragement that Jesus left to his disciples before heading to the cross is the same that we can take up each and every day: the end is coming, and we must endure. The fear of death or suffering can take a powerful grip on our lives and paralyze us spiritually, but through faith in Christ we can be fearless, understanding that the end is coming and we will live for eternity with Jesus, without this earthly pain and suffering. It will also inspire us to take up our true calling, not to cower in fear but to boldly proclaim the gospel to all nations!
May one of Jesus’ last earthly discourses encourage us today to live a life that is fearless in the face of persecution, boldly sharing the good news with a hurting world.
Questions for contemplation:
- What are some areas in your life ruled by fear? Take some time to examine yourself and consider whether your life is characterized by fear or fearlessness, and how you can allow the Lord to impact those areas of your life ruled by fear.
- What does boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus look like in your life? Inviting someone to church, engaging in spiritual conversations, or just asking good questions and being interested in someone else’s life story is a great way to start!