The Coming of the Son of Man
Open Your Bible
Luke 21:1-38, 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, Hebrews 12:25-29
One of the great perks of being a novelist is the research. Recently, for reasons that are not fully apparent to me, I’ve been devouring anything I can read about Italian orphanages during and after WWII. I’ve even connected with an eighty-year old Neapolitan man through Facebook. Through Google translate, he’s shared about his experience growing up under the care of a Christian family, the Santis, who ran the only Protestant orphanage in Southern Italy, a place called Casa Materna.
Though Casa Materna is now closed, I immediately ordered every book on Amazon about the place. In reading about the Santi family during WWII, I was struck by one situation in particular. Under constant surveillance by Mussolini’s fascist spies, Papa Santi, the founder of Casa Materna, was arrested for his activities and his preaching. At the trial, the judge asked him what he preached every Sunday at the orphanage. In response, Papa Santi began reading directly from the New Testament! His unjust persecution turned into an opportunity for unparalleled witness.
From my position of safety and wealth, WWII might seem like ancient history. But I am really just two generations removed from that reality—a reality that may have looked a lot like Jesus’s prediction of the end of the age.
Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat the truth for His disciples. He explains that the future is going to be full of war, famine, plagues, and natural disasters. He describes the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the persecution of believers. It is a picture of great chaos. And yet! In the midst of that chaos, His followers are to stand firm and lift their heads.
Much like Papa Santi in the midst of the chaos of WWII, Jesus’s followers are not to be distracted by the chaos of the kingdoms of the world, but to keep their eyes focused on the kingdom that is coming, one that cannot be shaken. Jesus is our only hope, our only comfort. Despite the chaos of the world, He will still come back. The Son of Man will not leave us as orphans. He will come with power and great glory. He is coming back to rescue us. It is a certainty. He promises, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).
We shouldn’t expect our future to look much different from what Papa Santi faced in his lifetime. But what Jesus told His disciples is still true for us. We do not need to prepare our defense against the world; we need only to draw close to the Defender.