Matins Devotion: November 7, 2023
In our reading from Matthew 24 today, Jesus is preparing His first century followers for the destruction of Jerusalem that is going to arrive in a generation, in about forty years. But He does so in a way that also weaves together the chaos and tribulation that is going to continue throughout the generations and precede His return on the last day, so He’s giving these words to us as well. And while this can be a rather confusing section of the Scriptures, while it’s a bit challenging to understand where exactly Jesus is referring to in each verse, His overall point is quite simple and clear: When turmoil surrounds you, don’t trust in the false Christs promising to end your turmoil with more turmoil. Trust in Him, the true Christ, the Son of God, who has already won the victory.
When God pours out His wrath through earthly means and you are driven into the wilderness of suffering, don’t think you can find rescue in the rebels of the wilderness. Don’t think that your salvation can be found in that place of suffering. When the violent of this world tear your houses to rubble, don’t think that you need to go back to the inner rooms of destruction to find victory. When God tears down the princes of this world as a sign of His judgment, don’t trust in more princes. When men trusting in their own strength was what caused the wrath of God to consume this world in the first place, don’t look for more strong men. When corpses surround us, vultures will not dry our tears. When the world screams and howls around you, don’t look for Christ in the wilderness or the inner room. Look for Him in the water, the word, the bread and the wine.
When persecution and sorrow and chaos surround you, look for the true Christ where He promised to be. Flee to the word that shows you God has no more wrath left to pour out on you because He poured it all out upon the head of Christ at Calvary. Flee to the promises given you in baptism, where God claimed you as His own child and swore that He would always find you in the rubble of the cities and the sands of the wilderness. Flee to the altar where you can kneel and receive the very body and blood of your Savior that have rescued you from condemnation. When the world burns around you, don’t look for a vulture Christ who will only feed the flames. Look to the Word and Sacraments, and there you will find the Savior who has drowned this burning world in the flood of His blood and who has sworn to lift you up into His eternal kingdom of peace.