MANY years ago, I wanted to learn how to play badminton. So, I asked my friend Mike Joseph to teach me how to play.
Mike was phenomenal in badminton. After two training sessions with him, I witnessed something unforgettable. While we were dressing up to train, two guys in the gym— total strangers—invited us to a doubles game.
I was about to tell them, “Oh, sorry guys, I don’t know how to play yet. I’m like in kindergarten…”
But Mike blurted out, “Sure!”
My jaw dropped. Was he out of his mind?
I told the two men, “Excuse me for a moment while I confer with my friend…” I walked near Mike and whispered,
“Are you insane? I don’t know how to play! Those guys look like star players. We’re going to be massacred.”
He said, “It’s okay, Bo.
I’m going to give you an assignment. Just stand in front of the net. If the shuttlecock goes near you, raise your racket and swat it down. I’ll take care of the rest.”
With trembling knees, I took my place. And in the entire game, I did what Mike told me—stand near the net and swat whenever the ball came near me. And Mike would do everything else.
True enough, he was like The Flash! When I turned to my right, he was there. When I turned to my left, he was there. When I looked behind me, he was there.
What happened? Mike and I crushed those guys. They didn’t know what hit them. The final score was 15-9. Do you know why the opponent got 9 points? Because I made 9 mistakes– 9 times, I didn’t do my assignment. I strayed. I went out of my position. I became a spectator, not a player. Imagine if I did my assignment—the score would have been 15-0.
Let me share with you two key lessons I learned that day: Stick to your assignment. Trust your partner.
Dear friend, many don’t know this– but life is a doubles game. You’re not supposed to do life alone. You must have a partner– that Partner is God. There are some persons who are trying to win alone. You can’t do that because life was designed as a doubles game.
And your Partner has asked you to do something.
What is that? Jesus said the two greatest commandments are Love God and Love others.
Stick to your assignment until the end. No matter what happens. And trust your Partner. He’ll do the rest.
Let’s now go to our key reading…
Jesus Says the Craziest Thing
Before we do, may I ask this question: Did you ever think you’d live through a global pandemic? I don’t know about you, but never in my most fantastical imagination did I think I’d go through this cataclysmic event.
But that’s why our key passage today is so perfect for what we’re facing.
I pray that through our reading, God will speak powerfully into our situation. Let’s begin: As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” (Matthew 24:1-2 NLT)
What Jesus said was not just controversial. It was high treason. A betrayal of the Jewish faith. Because the Jerusalem Temple was their greatest treasure. Imagine if I post a video on Facebook, prophesying, “Next year, God will destroy St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican for the sins of the Catholic Church!”
That video will go viral in eight seconds.
Well, Jesus did something like that.
And so naturally, the disciples had two questions: Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” (v.3)
These were their two loaded questions:
“When will the temple be destroyed?”
“What will signal the end of the world?” Jesus answered both.
Listen to Jesus’ answer: I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. (v.34)
Thirty-seven years after Jesus spoke these words, which is very close to 40 years, the biblical number representing one generation, the Roman
General Titus demolished this beautiful temple into rubble.
Wild, right? Whether it was prophesy or simply discerning what would happen based on the events of His time, Jesus got the date right.
But how about the disciples’ second question? The disciples thought that the two questions— the destruction of the temple and the end of the world—were indelibly connected.
But in the mind of Jesus, these two events have different timelines. While the temple’s destruction had a clear date, the end of the world or the Second Coming of Jesus didn’t.
When I was 7 years old, I watched my first movie in a movie house. It was a Japanese film, titled The End of the World, depicting a nuclear war between America and Russia that would annihilate Planet Earth.
Such annihilation was big, compared with the idea of ancient Jews living 2,000 years ago. The end of the world meant something much smaller. For them, the destruction of their temple was the end of the world as they knew it.
But lo and behold, their world continued after the temple was destroyed. Because the temple was destroyed to make room for a new way of relating with God through Jesus.
Sadly, many Christians misunderstood these Bible verses and produced a wave of false predictions and crazy debates for the past 2,000 years.
When People Are Obsessed with End Times
Stick to your assignment.
It’s a very relevant message, don’t you agree? Something that we need to hear especially in the context of everything that’s happening in the world today.
Let me ask you a very important question: How many of you were born before the 1990s?
Come on, raise your hands…
Do you remember one of the scariest Doomsday predictions that happened in the ‘90s? It was none other than the Y2K or Year 2000.
The Millennial Bug. Computer experts predicted that the world would go into chaos– the end of the world kind of prediction. They believed when Year 2000 would come, when the dates would change, the computers would no longer be able to tell the difference between the Year 1900 and the Year 2000.
The dates would reset all the way to the 1900s.
Why is that scary? Imagine:
The banking industry, for instance, relies heavily on computers. So, imagine if 2000 would reset all the way to 1900—they would not be able to compute the interests per day but instead by a hundred years.
Nuclear plants that supply our electricity. They also rely on computers. The confusion may even result in nuclear war.
Airline travel. Traffic also relies on computers. So, imagine the kind of disaster that would happen up in the sky if all those dates would get messed up.
That’s why many got scared. So, people did what they did the moment they got scared. They start panic buying.
Then, the day came—11:59 p.m., December 31, 1999—1 minute before D-Day. Then, the clock struck 12:00. What happened? Nothing.
The next morning, everybody woke up to a beautiful January 1, 2000.
300 Pages of False Predictions
Some Christians are obsessed with the “End of the World”.
Their logic was simple. Why bother doing anything when the world would end next month?
So, I researched on a list of failed Doomsday predictions in the past 2,000 years. I was expecting five or six pages.
Wrong. I got 300+ pages.
Many early Christians predicted that Jesus would come back at the end of the first century—100 AD. When that didn’t happen, they moved the date to 200 AD and 300 AD…
Here are the Doomsayers and their predicted dates of Doom:
St. Hypolitus: In the year 220 AD, he said the end would happen on 500 AD– based on the dimensions of Noah’s Ark.
Julius Africanus predicted in 221 that D-Daywill be in 600 AD– based on a 6,000-year schedule from Creation to Destruction.
St. Gregory of Tours: 799 AD
Beatus of Liebana: before Year 800
Hans Hut: May 27, 1528
Some Catholics are obsessed with the Third Secret of Fatima, saying it predicts this or that thing.
But in a theological commentary on it, Pope Benedict said, “A careful reading of the text of the so-called third ‘secret’ of Fatima … will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled.”
So, what should we do with Doomsday predictions? Based on what Jesus said, here’s the lesson…
‘Stop Trying To Guess When It Will Happen…’
All these guys trying to pinpoint dates don’t get Jesus when He said: However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. (v.36)
Jesus also said that when He comes, you can’t debate about it.
He said, “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. 26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. (v.23-27)
So, again, what should we do with Doomsday predictions?
Forget them and focus on loving Jesus.
Stick to our assignment until the end.
Jesus said, Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (v.12-13)
If you notice, God did not say, “Do big projects” or “Go, build churches” or “Convert thousands”.
He simply asked us to stay undaunted during difficult times.
To stick to our assignment until the end.
Friend, is there chaos around you?
Is evil on the increase?
Follow God even when it’s difficult.
Stick to your assignment until the end.
I want to lead you into the
Presence of Jesus, to His altar… If there’s somebody here who never had this relationship with Jesus, we invite you to take your step forward to have life with Jesus. To see that the Kingdom of Heaven happens in your life right now. For those of you who do this day after day, week after week, month after month—you’d been there—but you need this as much as the first person who has never done it…It’s our time to commit ourselves to Jesus once again.
I want you to stretch your arms out as we pray. I want you to own this prayer, make it your prayer. I’m going to lead you to do it but it will be your prayer. Say this with me:
Jesus, here I am in Your Presence, broken, hurting, lacking. And I invite You to come into my life and restore, and fix it, and heal me. You are my Lord. You are my Savior. You are my Redeemer. You are my King. And from this day on forward, only You will I worship. In Your Name. Amen.
When Jesus comes, He will ask: “Did you love me? Did you love me with your blessings, with your resources? Did you love me with your provisions that I give you? Did you love me with all that you are?”
Let’s get ready to build God’s Kingdom here on Earth. Let’s give our best to God.