And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.” Mark 9, verses 11-13.
Are we in the end times?
Last week, a big story in the media was the ‘reappearance of the Star of Bethlehem.’ If you missed it, the planets Venus and Jupiter converged after sunset on June 30 to appear as a bright, brilliant star for the first time in 2000 years. Kind of blows your mind to think that, in our lifetime, something just occurred identical to an event that was probably seen, through human eyes, by Jesus during His time on Earth. Now, I won’t go into debating whether or not this was the Star of Bethlehem. As astronomical events go, if this one brings you closer to the real Jesus, that’s good. Hopefully it does the same for many people.
I mention the event, however, to pose the question “are we in the end times?” One sign of the end is the return of Elijah to set things straight before the coming of the Messiah. Scripture tells of wars and rumors of wars, of governments acting in ways they haven’t before, and of signs in the heavens. If the Bible is our measure, someone could credibly say that we must be near the end of history.
The Apostles believed they were witnessing the end of the world. Jesus’ own words seemed to confirm it. As He, Peter, James and John were descending from the mountain of the Transfiguration, they asked Jesus about a fine point of Jewish doctrine, namely that Elijah would return to herald the Messiah. The three apostles knew they had just seen Elijah in person, so they must have been wondering what it all meant. Was the end about to happen?
Instead of confirming (or denying) the Apostle’s suspicions, He tells them “All those things you’re looking for? Don’t sweat them. Eyes on me, guys.” Jesus is telling His closest friends that the signs have already come and gone and we didn’t even notice them. The more important thing to notice is Jesus Himself. Keep your eyes on Jesus and watch where He is leading you in life.
The same is true for us. Jesus tells us in other verses to be aware of the things going on around us, to be advised of the signs in the world and the signs in our times in order that we should be ready for His imminent return. But my take on today’s verses is that the signs of the times aren’t as important as the signs in our lives that point us back to Jesus. Sure, it would be helpful to know if the end was happening soon, but it’s a better use of time to see how I could help my neighbor in need, or how I could be Christ for someone who doesn’t know Him. I already know my future, and I already know how history ends. What time we have left here should be used to help point people to Jesus so that, when He comes, more of us will go home with Him. We don’t need a star to point towards that.
Lord, I’m ready for You to return now.
Read Mark 9, verses 14-29.