COME, LORD JESUS, COME!
Lord, give me the strength to be faithful even when the cost is high.
Read MATTHEW 10:17–31
17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Weary was our heart with waiting, / and the night-watch seemed so long, but his triumph day is breaking / and we hail it with a song” (Henry Burton, 1840–1930).
After 2,000 years, history has seen Jesus’ prophetic words come true. Christians have been persecuted and accused of blasphemy, sedition and crime in general. Frequently we learn of the death and destruction of Christian people and their communities for refusing to deny their Lord. In such places, Jesus’ dire predictions of family divisions are taking place. Where I live, the small discriminations Christians face pale next to their constant persecution under governments where to profess Christianity is to risk persecution or even death. Jesus tells suffering Christians to remain firm, an attitude possible only in the assurance that God is ultimately in control—that, in the end, pain and death “will flee away” (Isa. 35:10).
I would be remiss if I ignored verse 26, one of Matthew’s most controversial verses. Was Jesus telling his followers not to fear because the end was close? That he would return in their lifetime, even before they had finished their initial local ministry (23)? Later, Matthew records Jesus saying that some would not see death before his return (Matt. 16:28). Several New Testament passages speak similarly (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:15; Rev. 1:3). The actions of the early Christians certainly appear to be based on the presumption that Jesus would return soon (Acts 4:32–35).
Over the centuries, scholars and preachers have devised many novel explanations for this dilemma. I prefer to take these verses at their face value, the simplest explanation often being the best: that Jesus did say these things, and that is what he meant. On earth, Jesus was limited to a human body and a human mind. Matthew later recorded Jesus saying that he did not know when he would return. We must accept that, but we can also understand that Jesus was human enough to wonder about it and that he expected it would be soon.
How much strife in your immediate family has the name of Jesus caused? Who in your family first surrendered to him?
Lord Jesus, we await You still. Uncounted lifetimes have passed. Your world still bleeds. Your suffering people can barely endure. Come, Lord Jesus, come!