Perhaps the greatest sign of the apocalypse will be normalcy. It’s interesting to hear people react to some of the things that Jesus said. One of my favorites is when they talk about the days of Noah. I’ve been told that Jesus is coming back because we are living in the days of Noah. Jesus described those days as a time when people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah entered the Ark. (Matthew 24:37-38) In my understanding, that means that life will continue in a normal fashion until that day that Jesus comes again. So many people look for signs or indications that Jesus is returning that they miss the obvious message: there is nothing special about the way people behave that indicates the return of Christ.
In another discussion of signs, Jesus reminded the people about Jonah. When talking to the Jewish leaders during His time on earth, Jesus warned the people of that time that the only sign they would receive would be the sign of Jonah. What was the sign of Jonah? A call to repentance. The difference between the people of Nineveh and the people of Israel at that time was that the people of Nineveh heard Jonah and responded to his message by repenting. Jesus compared the people of Nineveh to the Jewish people, and the pagans won out. “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.” (Luke 11:32)
What kind of sign do you need? Or, do you really need a sign? Noah was a prophet who built a great ark while proclaiming the judgment of God as he built (or so I understand.) Nineveh, though wicked, was the most powerful city on earth at that time; they received the message of Jonah as a sign from God. They repented. But, even greater than Jonah and his message; something even greater than Noah and his message has come. Jesus is greater than these two or any other person proclaiming the need to repent from sins. Jesus not only calls us to repent, He gives us the grace we need to overcome our sins. The problem with a message that focuses on repentance is that a person might repent, but then falls back into the clutches of sin. How many times have you said, “Oh, I’m not gonna do that again,” only to be committing the same sin a couple of days later. The power of Jesus is the grace He extends so that we can overcome the power of sin in our lives.
These days it’s not popular to talk about sin. The idea that sin exists is anathema to a culture that celebrates differences and idiosyncrasies as part of the diversity of all people. We are in a “do your own thing” culture that believes in “live and let live” on every issue – unless you believe that someone else is wrong; someone else is a sinner. While we need to look inside ourselves first and seek God’s forgiveness for our sins, we also need to remind the world that in the midst of their sins, no matter what they may be, Jesus died to bring forgiveness for our sins and grace to overcome those sins. I don’t mention specific sins often, rarely do people who mention specific sins focus on their own sins – they focus on the sins of others. I proclaim the grace of God that forgives the sins of all who seek God’s forgiveness and gives us the power to overcome those sins so that we aren’t stuck in our sins forever. Something greater than the message of repentance is here: accept the grace of God in your life today.
Lord, so many people live in a pattern of continuous repentance. They know that something is wrong, but they can’t stop what they’re doing. Let them experience Your grace so that as they repent of their sins, they can experience Your power in their lives to overcome those sins.