No walk in the park
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes it clear (Luke 9:21-22) that the road to Jerusalem is no walk in the park. Jesus will repeat that a death-ordeal awaits Him, but no one really understands, let alone believes Him (Luke 9:44-45; Luke 18:34). So as we enter the season of Easter and figuratively get close to Jerusalem ourselves, we too take stock of what we really believe deep down.
The End Game
In Luke 21:5-28, Jesus tells us there is an end game to this endless cycle of death, wars and pestilences: When He returns in glory to establish His Kingdom, the Jerusalem above (Luke 21:27; Revelation 21:1-4). Until then, Jesus prepares us for the rough ride that life on earth can be (Luke 21:10-11). It is a stark reminder that taking up our cross to follow Him can also bring tremendous rejection, suffering and even death (Luke 9:21-22; Luke 21:16-17). While the trials are always different for each generation, the message remains the same: it’s an opportunity to bear witness (21:13). What does this mean for us?
During this time of fear, anxiety, loss, depression and temptations, we remember the words of Jesus: “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your life (Luke 21:18-19). We can say that because Jesus has conquered death, and by putting our faith in Him, we will too, one day. Paul puts it in the form of a famous question: “who shall separate us from the Love of God?” The answer is, nobody! nothing! The death-ordeal we must all face will be conquered one day.
In the meantime, the temptation to give in to fear is real for every generation. “Keep calm and carry on” was the way Londoners handle it when they faced 76 days of deadly bombings during World War II. For us, to bear witness is to stand in solidarity with our courageous health care workers, researchers looking for a cure, suppliers (farmers, manufacturers of respirators, etc.), and officials at the local, state and federal level (a prayer extended to the entire world). We also bear witness by lifting up families who are either drawing closer together or coming apart as a result of living close to each other. We lift up our children, our students, our unemployed, our professionals, and especially our elderly who many are facing this ordeal alone.
As Gov. Newsom of California recently said, it’s our moment to wake up and grow up. From the perspective of the Gospel, we know that God will use all these terrible events for His purpose. He always does. In the meantime, we look to Him and seize the opportunity to preach the gospel to all nations (Matthew 24:24). This includes our neighbors, our co-workers, our wife or husband; the very same folks, who right now may be a lot more receptive to hearing the good news than only a few precious weeks ago.