I remember a story told to me in American History class back in high school. My teacher was talking about the time just prior to the fall of the stock market and the coming of the Great Depression in 1929. She told us a story (possibly apocryphal) about Rockefeller who was having his shoes shined. The incredibly wealthy businessman overheard the shoe-shiner bragging about some stocks he was investing in. Rockefeller immediately realized that the market was getting overextended if a shoe-shiner was able to buy stocks, and quickly liquidated his stock holdings in order to prepare for the coming downturn. By doing this he saved most of his money and weathered the approaching economic storm.
I thought about that story today as I read the passage above. Why was Jesus condemning his listeners? How should we respond? Should we be on the lookout for the “End Times” and stock up on food, guns, and ammo for the coming Apocalypse?
Our Lord was rebuking them for not seeing the obvious signs around them. Their weather prediction was pretty rudimentary, but they knew some of the basics just because of observation. They knew that if X happens, then likely Y is about to occur. They might not know why this was true, but they knew that it was true.
What were they seeing? Every day they were seeing miracles up to their armpits. They saw blind people receiving their sight again. They saw deaf people hearing again. They saw the crippled standing up and jumping for joy. They saw 5,000 men being fed with a few loaves and fish. They likely heard about the raising of the dead.
More than this, they saw peoples’ lives being changed. They saw tax collectors leaving behind their booths with money piled up in order to follow this Teacher. They saw people controlled by demons released from bondage. They saw former “ladies of the evening” abandoning their lifestyle in favor of sexual purity. They even saw some measure of reconciliation and unity within the ranks of the apostles: Among the Twelve were a former tax collector (a collaborator) and a former Zealot (who outside of this settings would've gladly knifed him in a heartbeat).
With all these signs around them, with most people it was like talking to them with headphones on. Have you ever done that? You’re talking to someone and they smile and nod. That’s what most of these people did. They weren’t really opposed to Jesus, but they weren’t about to give up their lifestyle in order to follow him.
In this context, vss. 58-59 make a little more sense. Right now is the time for reconciliation. Not with your brother-in-law whom you can’t stand, but your Creator. You’ve been given all the signs you need in order to recognize that you need to submit to the Savior. Right now, you and he are still talking, so to speak. But a court date is approaching, and the outcome of that is sure. You’ve already been condemned and judged guilty, and once you step into the courtroom it’s too late to “hash it out” beforehand.
So is this a call to be on the lookout for the End Times? Is it time to stock up and bunker down? I don’t think so. What is it? It’s a perfect time to do one of two things. If you haven’t received Christ, then now’s the only time you can do it. Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow will be here, but maybe you won’t be here to see it. If you haven't received Christ yet--or if you're not sure if you have or not--please go here.
And if you are a follower of Christ, then make sure that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. John gives us some really good counsel: “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” Whether he comes in a thousand years or within the next minute, that’s good advice.
Lord Jesus, please open my eyes to what you want to show me. Am I missing opportunities or warnings you’ve placed in front of me? Is there something more I should be doing?
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