Matthew 24:1-2 – Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” NIV
We are so into our things. We worry about protecting our things. We want other people to notice our things. We often form opinions about people based on how many things they have, how they take care of their things, and if they share their things with others. Many times those things include buildings: houses, stores, offices, and even church buildings.
The Temple complex that Herod the Great had begun building was magnificent. In fact, there was construction going on in Jesus’ time because the complex was not completed until 64 A.D., just a few years before its destruction in 70 A.D. It is reported that the white and gold buildings gleamed so brightly in the sun that it was difficult to gaze directly at them. If I remember correctly, the whole complex covered some 17 acres.
Jesus and His first disciples were leaving that complex, and the disciples called His attention to the buildings that they were admiring. Jesus asked them an obvious question and then made a statement that would blow them away. One day all these things would be torn down! Evidently, this shut down conversation for a while because it wasn’t until they reached the Mount of Olives that they pulled Jesus aside and asked a double edged question: “Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3 – NIV) In the discourse that follows Jesus answers both of their questions. At the time they did not realize that He was speaking of two different events. People today sometimes mix up the events as they try to determine what Jesus was saying.
The disciples mistakenly believed that the destruction of the Temple would bring “the end of the age.” It may have been their preoccupation with things and the grandeur of the Temple that led to that belief. However, the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Some of Jesus’ prophecy was directed at that event. The “end of the age” did not come with the destruction of the Temple and other parts of Jesus’ prophecy speaks of that event. It was after the destruction of the Temple that the early church was force to leave the thing (Temple) behind and move out with the Gospel into the world! The mission emphasis of the church moved to Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome.
What if Jesus asked me that question today? What things am I focused on that I confuse with spiritual security? What things keep me from moving to where God wants me to join Him on His mission? What would happen to my faith if the things I depend on for security were gone? Can I depend of God to supply me the things I need?
If the part of Jesus’ prophecy was true about the destruction of the Temple, how much credibility does that lend to the remainder of His prophecy about “the end of the age?” Am I prepared and helping prepare others as that time draws closer?