The Day of the Lord is going to come and even as Jesus walked the earth, He longed for it. It will be the great Day of Salvation for all who put their faith in Him. It will also be a Day of Judgment and fire against rebellion and the darkness of this world. It will bring a final end to the curse, and will usher in a new era of everlasting joy and light. The Bible says we are all to long for that Day to come.
Jesus had come to earth on a rescue mission to save His chosen ones from the grip of the Kingdom of Darkness. In order to do so, He was going to offer Himself up as a sacrifice in obedience to His Father. This is what He said:
“‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed.’”
Do you hear Jesus speaking about His dread as He prepared to die? Imagine the agony that Christ went through in that time. He knew that in the next few months, He would be offering Himself up to bear the horrific suffering of death on a cross. He would allow these malicious, selfish rulers to have Him beaten and nailed to wood. All the while, He would be bearing the terrific force of God’s cataclysmic wrath against the sin and evil of humanity. The cross loomed over His life like a constant shadow. What He was preparing to do as He went about teaching and healing is incomprehensible to us. What a wonderful Savior, that He would bear that burden for us. It is just another reminder of the unimaginable good of Jesus, magnificently selfless…utterly worthy of our love and devotion.
With His life and death and resurrection, Jesus would forge the way for the glorious path of God’s grace. He was purchasing salvation, and making a way to Heaven for all who believe in Him. How could anyone refuse His gift? But then again, how could Adam and Eve reject their God? Why does anyone turn from God and cross over the line of His will into sin? Why do you and I sin? It isn’t rational…it doesn’t make sense.
Humanity is utterly sinful, and Jesus knew many would not receive the gift that He purchased with His blood. He knew that they would not only refuse His mercy and grace. but they would join the ranks of God’s great enemy and fight against Him. With Christ’s victory on the cross, Satan was utterly defeated, but that wasn’t going to stop him from doing as much damage as possible until Christ returns. Jesus knew that Satan was going to do everything he could to wage war against the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He was going to deceive and draw as many people into sin and darkness as possible so he could use them to wage war against God. From the time of Christ’s life on earth to the time when He would return, there would be a deep divide in the human race between the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light. This is how Jesus described it:
“‘Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
The dividing line of the Great Battle would be drawn at the foot of the cross. The great distinction in humanity would be between those who received the sacrifice as a covering for their sin, and those who refused this marvelous grace. The great division between the two would drive right through the most intimate relationships, invading even the heart of families. It would divide through the heart of each person as well, as they wrestled with the purity and faith that Christ commanded. It was the same divide that was working through the listeners of Jesus during His time and during our time as well.
As Jesus preached through Galilee, He kept coming up against the foolishness of the people. Here He was, their own Messiah, and they refused to recognize it. The Kingdom of God was near, and the time for great revelation of God’s Salvation was on the way, but the people were completely missing it. This is what Jesus said:
“‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?’”
Jesus was rebuking the people. How could they be so sensitive to something as fleeting as the weather, yet so dull to the great and mighty work of God among them? The storm clouds were rising over Israel. Judgment was on the way. The nation of Israel would not stand if it rejected the Messiah! These people were living in an illusion if they thought they could go on after so great a sin! Can you hear Jesus’ frustration? Can you hear Him trying to prod them awake?
Then He said:
“‘Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.’”
In this little story, you have to imagine a man who has been accused of a crime. He is guilty, and his accuser has full, complete proof. Once they get to court, that accuser is going to show the judge all the evidence and the man will surely go to jail. What is the smartest thing for the man to do?
- Should he lie and pretend to be innocent?
- Should he fool himself into believing that the judge might let him off in spite of his crime?
- Should he carry false hope that there is some other legal system that he can go to?
- Should he reject and abuse his accuser on the way to the judge?
- Or should he plead with his accuser, confess his sins, and hope for a more lenient punishment?
As Jesus spoke to the Jewish people, He was calling them to repent and seek God’s grace before it was too late. God had full proof of their sin and their need for grace, and Jesus was there, willing to give it. But once the time of God’s judgment came, it would be too late.