15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:15-35
This journey with Jesus. This journey to Jerusalem. It’s beginning to feel like a bit of a steep uphill climb. Maybe a bit more than bit of a steep uphill climb. Today is a little like Groundhog Day scripture wise. Today is more doom and gloom and warnings. Where I am yearning for miracles and intimate meals with my Savior, Jesus is offering tribulation and indefinite darkness and the heavens being shaken.
It gives me pause to say the least. No matter how many times he repeats these warnings. Because as we sit here, still on the Mount of Olives, I have asked him to repeat himself several times. And, because he is Jesus, he patiently complies.
“You are talking about some specific events,” I tell him. “I get that part.”
“But I don’t get the sense that those things are what you and I are going to talk about,” I say.
“No, we’re not,” he agrees. His dark brown eyes hold my gaze and it feels like he is looking not just in my eyes but in my heart. He smiles and a joy radiates from deep in my heart to each of my cells. I feel like I radiate an energy. As if joy and love are something any passerby can see on me. Shining out from me, shining off my skin.
I watch him as he reclines against a tree. He has kind eyes and a sense of urgency about his time here. But for now, he focuses on me. He makes me feel like I am the most important thing to him right now.
That is the thing about Jesus, I think to myself as I continue to look at him. This must have been what Simon and Andrew and James and John saw in him the first time they saw him. This sense that all of his attention was directed at them. Only them.
But it’s not just what you feel when he looks at you. It’s what you see when you look at him.
Sitting here now I can see that there is something about him. Something in him. It’s more than his love, more than his peace. It’s an intimacy. An intimate interest in me that I can feel and that I can hear even when he isn’t speaking.
Maybe that’s why even as he talks about the destruction of the Temple and the ruin of Jerusalem and the tribulations that will come before he does, before he comes again, I am not afraid.
Because he is God. He is not just Jesus, the son of a carpenter. He is not just an ordinary man. He is God.
His journey to this place today started in the stable in Bethlehem.
His journey to this place today started in the Garden of Eden.
His journey to this place today started before time, before space, before anything else existed.
This is his journey because this is his world.
“This is your world,” I whisper to him up here on the Mount of Olives as we look out over Jerusalem.
“It is,” he replies.
“All of the beauty, all of the pain, all of the mess. It’s all yours”
He nods and his eyes shine with the joy that one sees in the eyes of a new dad. Eyes that reflect hope, and expectation and joy and love. Unconditional love.
Because we are his children. We create beauty, we cause pain, we make messes, we destroy, we build, we love.
We love because he first loved us. And that is the reason for this journey. That is the miracle really.
I look at this man who is also God and I am filled with awe. An awe that is real. An awe that is powerful. An awe that takes my breath away.
Because I am why he came. I am why he started this journey. I am why he will continue this journey even when it takes him to the cross.
Parts of this journey are difficult for me. Some of his words don’t make sense to me. I don’t understand everything he does. But I realize that I don’t have to understand everything I see and hear. I just need to follow him. All the way to the cross.
I just need to follow him. So I do.