It was 1987 when R.E.M. hit the airwaves with a song called “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”–nearly two thousand years after Jesus shared a similar sentiment with those gathered in the temple in Jerusalem.
Having pointed out the contrast between the offerings of the poor widow and the rich, Jesus goes on to describe an end to so much that was familiar to his original audience. As for the temple, not one stone would be left upon another. More globally, he spoke of wars and earthquakes and famines and persecution, of the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs that would precede the coming of the Son of Man. Even the fig tree–every tree for that matter–is a sign of the nearness of God’s coming kingdom. It’s the end of the world as we know it, Jesus was saying, but how was he feeling about that? His warning acknowledged the weight of apocalyptic realities on the hearts of his hearers, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of the this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”
I pray we take that warning to heart today, staying awake and praying for strength to endure with our focus fixed on the Son of Man.