“So they asked Him, saying; ‘Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?'” Luke 21:7
“They asked Him, saying ‘Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'” Acts 1:6
I’m not sure if it is this way with all writers, but for me, I love to read. Now as it comes to the end of the book, there are two major types of readers: the first, reads all the way through never taking a peek at what is to come; the second, starts the book, but very quickly, leafs back to the last few pages and reads the end.
Ugh, I must admit I am the latter of those two types. I try and I try; don’t go to the back, wait to see what happens, I tell myself. Alas, at some point, I am going to break down and go to the back to read the ending. Fortunately, no matter how surprising or different than I thought, it doesn’t spoil the book for me. For I find myself just as intrigued about how the author will bring about that ending as I would be not knowing the ending.
Toward the end of His ministry, His disciples and a few others closest to Him, were acquiring the understanding that Jesus was truly different than anyone who had come before. The disciples would even declare that He was the Son of God, although until the Holy Spirit, they did not grasp the full power of that revelation. Jesus had been telling them about things that were going to happen in the near future; His death and resurrection, so that when they happened; the disciples would believe in Jesus. So given Jesus’ ability to see the future and His special relationship with His Heavenly Father, it would seem only natural that Jesus would know about the end of the world and the restoration of God’s Kingdom. It is also only natural for the disciples to be curious and ask about it? They wanted to hear about the end of the story that they had been so involved in the writing. They wanted to flip to the back of the book.
Jesus answer must have been a little frustrating. For Jesus never gave them the clarity and definiteness of an answer they were looking for. For one, as far as an exact date; Jesus was very clear, He did not know. Even being God’s own Son, He was not privy to that information. God alone knows the exact timing. Second, remember Jesus was a human being as well as the Son of God. That means that Jesus understood how we thought, understood our limitations as it applies to living in a linear time; that is hour to day to month to year to so on and on, kind of existence. Jesus knew and knows that although we ask for, seemingly desperately seek after, the end of the story future truth, end a slight change to the famous words uttered in a movie: “We can’t handle the truth!”
Here’s the issue: What if God revealed the specifics of His future plan, in detail with us? What if God laid out His plan, perfect plan that it is, day by day to us? Remembering that the plan is perfect, yet: What if the plan had some tragic, painful, disastrous segment included in it? On the other hand, what if God’s plan had some glorious, uplifting, tremendously positive segment that was going to take years to get to? Think about how much more difficult our lives could be; how much more likely we would be to miss the blessings of each day; how much more likely we would be to overlook the joys, love, needs and ministering to those God has put into our lives now because we knew and were either dreading or anticipating greatly our future. Would Joseph have gone out to meet his brothers if he knew they would beat him and sell him into slavery? Would Mary have gone through being Jesus Mother, if she knew the crucifixion was going to happen?
Jesus understands both our limitations and our needs. So in love, He gave us the only answer He could. He gave us the truth that we could handle. Jesus gave us a framework of future times. He warned us that His returning to heaven was not going to usher in a time of heaven on earth. He warned them (and in so doing us) of the trials and tribulations to come. He extolled them to remain faithful as they/we watch.
Finally, Jesus gave us much, much more. He gave us the promise that, no matter what each day held, however the future might unfold, one future truth was certain; we are loved. No earthly circumstances can ever sever that love. No matter the earthly tragedy, Jesus promised that we will be comforted. Even should our physical bodies be broken, Jesus promised safety and peace for our eternal souls. And Jesus extolled us; concentrate on today. For today is what we can impact. Today is where our love makes a difference. Today is when the world needs to see our lives faithfully lived in Love of Our Heavenly Father and in Praise to His Most Holy Name.
The story does have an end. The ending will be perfect and glorious. How many pages are there until then? God only knows. So let’s concentrate on being on the same page. The page that truly matters right now. The page of today.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that You are Creator God; Your existence is eternal and Your plan is perfect. Forgive us Merciful Father when we want to overlook today, to attempt to ascertain the plan of the future. Through Your Spirit, help us to be fully grounded in today; embracing the blessings it contains as well as seeing to the needs of others that you have placed with us. Keep us from becoming focused on tomorrow so that we forget to praise You for today. That we may strive to live in Your Love of today, which is the same everyday and praise Your Most Holy Name for it. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen