Conversations with Jesus (Part 4)
- Summary: In these conversations Jesus expounds upon the greatest commandment, clarifies the identity of “the Christ”, and gives warnings concerning the end times.
Matthew 22:34-40 ...(36) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- •• The number one, greatest commandment is love (for God) and number two is also love (for your neighbor).
•• Greater than faith ... greater than witnessing ... than ministry ... than prayer ... than worship — greater than all those excellent and biblical things is to love God and to love your neighbor.
Matthew 22:41-46 ...(42) “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ‘ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
- •• Godly wisdom! The Scriptures are the answer to man’s reasoning, man’s traps, man’s liberalism and his modernism.
- • Today we hear many theories about the identity of “the Christ”. Some say, “a great man” or “a true prophet” or “a god”.
• But Jesus shows from the Scriptures that “the Christ” is far more than that — He [Jesus] is “Lord”. That places Him far above and beyond mere mortals.
• He is “the Lord Jesus Christ”, the Son of God!
Matthew 24:1-3 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “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.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
- •• Sic transit gloria! Earthly splendor is fleeting!
•• Jesus’ did not avoid their questions concerning the end times. Let's see some of His replies:
vs. 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
- •• Deception is one of the biggest end-time dangers.
•• Christ’s warning was: “Watch out!” ... lest you be deceived” in the end times.
vs. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
- •• One deception in the end times will be those claiming, “I am the Christ!”
- • In my lifetime there have been a number of religious figures who have claimed to be the Christ or the Messiah. Sadly, many people have followed them.
- •• At a lesser level, some deceivers have focused on the biblically true anointing aspect of the phrase “the Christ” and have misled gullible listeners with statements like: “I am highly anointed ... [or] I have a special anointing ... [or] we are special vessels to transmit our anointing ... [or] this is the most anointed ministry going ... [or] the anointing on me was so heavy people were ‘falling out’ in my presence...”
- • Unfortunately, many Christians have been deceived and have fallen under the sway of those who have claimed and declared for themselves a “special anointing”.
vss. 6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
- •• Do not be alarmed by natural catastrophes ... “the end is still to come.”
•• Wars ... famines ... earthquakes — at some point in time, these signs will constitute just “the beginning” of the end times, not the conclusion of them.
vs. 11 ...many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
- •• False Christs were an end-time deception mentioned earlier. Hear we see that in the end times there will also be a proliferation of false prophets.
•• A few years ago I researched one “prophetic” web site. I read predictive prophecies recorded there over the previous seven years. With very few exceptions, the “prophets” whose words were recorded on that website proved to have spoken falsely. The prophesied events in almost all cases failed to occur. It troubles me that some (not all) of those considered to be prophets today are not held accountable for false predictions they have given.
- • [ Important point: ] Jesus’ use of the word “false” prophets by definition indicates that in those same end times there will be true prophets against whom the false will be measured.
• I do believe strongly in true contemporary prophets. As always, in the end times there will be a mixture of the false and the true prophets. Remember Jesus’ warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you” (vs. 4).
vss. 12-13 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
- •• Expect and brace yourselves for an increase of wickedness in the end times.
•• One result will be: “the love of most will grow cold.” Frequently take your spiritual pulse — How is your love for the Lord doing?
vs. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
- •• The gospel will spread worldwide in the end times.
•• “this gospel of the kingdom” — The powerful kingdom of God will be declared worldwide in the end times.
vss. 15-21 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ ... (20) Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again."
- •• Titus, the future Roman emperor, captured and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Expositors’ Bible Commentary says of that siege and destruction: “The savagery, slaughter, disease, and famine (mothers eating their own children) were monstrous (cf. Jos. War V, 424-38 [x.2-3]), ‘unequaled from the beginning of the world until now,’ and, according to Jesus, ‘never to be equaled again.’ There have been greater numbers of deaths — six million in the Nazi death camps, mostly Jews, and an estimated twenty million under Stalin — but never so high a percentage of a great city’s population so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the Fall of Jerusalem.”
•• Jesus prophesied that the tribulation to come, which befell Jerusalem in 70 A.D., would be the worst ever. It would be unequaled in previous history and would never be equaled again — never even, may I emphasize, in the yet-future time of the antichrist! Be sure to factor that into your end-time understanding of Scripture. Keep the "great tribulation" of the end times in perspective.
This is part four of a series of “Conversations with Jesus, the Son of God”. The next dialogue with Jesus may be viewed here. More "Conversations" can be found at the INDEX to Conversations with Jesus.
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©1998, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.