Yes, we remember with deep sorrow the dead of two world wars. We cannot forget those who laid down their lives in the severe battles of nations against nations. For our tomorrow they gave their today.
But we rightly question whether “our tomorrow” – the good tomorrow envisaged by the soldiers who died in WW1 and WW2 – has worked out in practise. If it had worked out for those who died so valiantly during WW1 then WW2 would not have been necessary. WW2 was also not the end.
How true then the teaching of Jesus in AD 33 in bold above. This was his caring advice to his disciples in the final week of his life. That week the Jerusalem Law Court in a show trial would (self-interestedly) conclude that capital punishment for him was their answer. The military Roman Prefect would then (self-interestedly – to avoid a riot on his watch) sentence him to a crucifixion so cruel that it was not permitted to be meted out to a Roman citizen (but Jesus was not Roman, so that was OK).
Jesus’ followers were not to be under any illusion about this world. They were not to be alarmed by hearing wars or hearing war-reports. Distressed by them – very much so. But not alarmed.
“This” Jesus said, “This (singular) must take place.” Why the singular? Well, the two words in the original Greek (dei ginomai) could well be simplified into two English words. “It’s inevitable.” What’s inevitable? “Nation rising against nation” and so on. Why?
Think about the G20 high-level discussions this week about the Euro.
Georges Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, was threatened by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. An ultimatum was given to him and to all the people of Greece. “Accept our offer of help or the sky will fall in for you all. We’ll make sure of that.” (Embarrassed by this show of strength the duo has cobbled together a Committee - ‘Francfort’ - to hide behind in future.
Does this say something about the value of this Greek deal, not for Greece, but for Germany and France and their people? It speaks volumes about self-interest. Germany is the most economically successful country in the Euro by far. It has joined forces with France which is itself financially insecure and may not be able to afford to support its own French banks if even tiny Greece defaults – let alone Italy. The latest news is of secret talks about Germany and France becoming an elite “core-Euro-trio” with Holland.
Self-interest is the same in AD 2011 as in AD 33 – and has been all the way in between.
Here then – in bold above – is the high-level statement of the Son of Man – who rose from the dead. “It’s inevitable.” “Conflict is inevitable.” Self-interest reigns – with all its consequences.
For our tomorrow they gave their today....... Are human beings destined to have to fight one another physically and economically? For ever?
No! Look again at Jesus’ words. “These are but the beginnings of birth pains.” Birth pains eventually cease – and there is a new baby.
Why the “inevitable” birth pains? Is it so that folk will see, hear, and feel the conflicts and the wars and long for better?
Is it so that folk will turn from leaders of this world to the one perfect human being – the man with absolutely no self-interest? Jesus Christ who planned and organised his own cruel death – to benefit others.
Read his biography written by his contemporary – Mark. Click “Reply” and send your name and address for a free copy.