Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. Mark 13, verses 5-6.
Since the moment Jesus left we’ve been looking for His return. In fact, our desire to be close to God has been pretty much the central focus of humanity since the moment God caught Adam and Eve in their rebellion. We want to be close to God because God is loving perfection. Sin living in us even tells us that we can be God, that it’s our right to take His place in our lives and that we don’t need Him anymore.
Have you heard of the Mexican proverb: if you want to hear God laugh tell Him your plans? Somehow I think Jesus laughs sadly at the way we follow so many smaller things instead of Him.
Yet follow them we do and with great enthusiasm, and at the end of the day we are still looking for Jesus to come back and set things right. Every year at Passover, Jews end their Seder meal by saying “next year in Jerusalem” in the hopes that they will see the Messiah by Passover next year. They do so ignoring that Jesus is that Messiah.
History is replete with wannabe messiahs. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Adolf Hitler, every communist leader since Lenin, even some politicians in our world today with oversized egos and undersized abilities: all of them have wanted to be ‘the man with the plan’ in one way or another. At the very least, they crave the center of the spotlight. And while some of those people actually did (and do) have extraordinary talents, most are / were just tin pot dictators with a God-complex. That doesn’t stop otherwise smart, even highly educated, people from earnestly following them. Like I said, we long for Jesus and will put up with something less just for a taste of His comfort.
Knowing all this, is it surprising that Jesus warned the disciples to be on the lookout for false Christs and false teachers who say one thing but mean another? The New Testaments gives specific information on how to know when Jesus returns. Luke 9, Matthew 24, Acts 1, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Titus 2 and all over Revelation give specific identifying characteristics of Jesus that deceivers and the devil will not be able to falsify. That won’t stop people from doing so. As always, people long for Jesus and many will be willing to settle for a cheap imitation.
Our job here is to discern what’s false and what isn’t. Only by sticking close to the words of the Savior can we do this. He Himself cautioned His friends – and us – to keep watch, to pay attention, and to test the words of those who would come and say “I’m Jesus.” If what those pretenders do and say doesn’t hold up against those Scriptures I mentioned (and many others as well) then they aren’t Jesus. Indeed, Jesus says that, when He finally does return, every eye will see Him and know Him and that every knee will bow to acknowledge Him, even those who don’t believe in Him.
Lord, I’m watching for Your return. Help me to keep vigilant to stand against those who profess to be You but aren’t.
Read Mark 13, verses 1-31.