JOHN AUTON’S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
29 November 2020 (Advent Sunday) – Signs of the End of the Age
This week’s passage about “The Signs of the End of the Age”, from Mark’s gospel, chapter 13, verses 24 to 37, expands on the theme we studied in last week’s passage from Matthew 25 about “The Sheep and the Goats”. Last week, we learned that when Jesus returns (which will be at an hour when we do not expect him), he will judge every human being who has ever lived. He will divide us into two categories – the “sheep”, who are assured an eternal place in heaven; and the “goats”, who will go to eternal damnation.
In this week’s passage, Jesus gives us advice on how to anticipate the time of his second coming. He says, in verses 28 and 29, that we know summer is coming when we see the fig tree putting forth leaves on its branches. In just the same way, we must be alert to crucial signs that the “End of the Age” is coming.
In verse 29, the crucial signs are simply referred as “these things taking place”; but if we look back to verses 7 and 8 of the same chapter, that is Mark chapter 13, we find the signs are clearly listed – “wars and rumours of wars”; “nation rising against nation”; and “earthquakes and famines”. A further sign is given in verse 22, namely, “false prophets will appear”.
If we ignore these signs when they appear, we do so at our peril. We must be READY for Jesus’ second coming, which – as I mentioned last week – could be today, or it could be in a thousand years’ time. We must live every single day as if we expect Jesus to return that day. As we learned last week, we must love our fellow believers, treating them with practical kindness if we find them hungry or thirsty, needing clothing, sick, or in prison.
I will close by telling a story from my personal experience, to illustrate what “being ready for Jesus’ second coming” looks like. When I was at my previous church in Finchley, I arrived for the service one Sunday morning to find the Associate Vicar, Revd Colin Brookes, on his hands and knees on the pavement, clearing up some dog droppings. Colin explained to me, “I don’t want the congregation to tread in this”. In his sermon that morning, Colin told us that, while he was scraping up the droppings, he found himself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be GREAT if Jesus came back and found me doing this?!!” That is what being READY for Jesus’ Second Coming means – it means doing acts of kindness for the benefit of our fellow believers, regardless of the personal cost to ourselves.
John Auton, Licensed Lay Minister, St Nicholas Church, Elstree