Where does your attention gravitate towards? What distracts you? What can tempt you toward mission drift?
The Olivet Discourse begins with something interesting. One of Jesus’ disciples- maybe it was Judas, the one enamored with money, or maybe it was James or John, the brothers hungry for power- points out the magnificent construction of the temple. It was adorned with beautiful stones and donations.
What a striking backdrop for what Jesus is about to teach His disciples. Herod the Great made the temple one of the most impressive structures in the world. Some of the stones were 40x12x12 feet. Massive! And they were bedecked with gold ornamentation. The buildings were made with gleaming bright marble. The whole eastern wall was covered with gold plates, reflecting the shimmering glow of the temple for onlookers to see from miles away. Wealthy people gave gifts of golden statues, golden plaques and other treasures to be displayed on the walls.
All this had caught the disciples’ eyes. Awestruck by power and riches, Jesus’ words about His return, the destruction of Jerusalem, the misery to come and the great tribulation might have all seemed unfathomable.
Jesus taught them parables highlighting their need to be ready, faithful and righteous. All these virtues were to be prized greater than the treasures adorning the temple.
It’s interesting to note that the Olivet Discourse begins with a disciple noticing the riches and splendor of the temple, and it ends with Judas leaving to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave. Judas sold himself, enslaved himself, for the allure of this world’s wealth.
Like the disciples, shiny things can get my attention. I need to be reminded to prize faithfulness, righteousness and spiritual preparedness above what this world values. When I don’t, in small ways and big, I’m tempted to sell out and enslave myself, trading my character for temporal treasure.
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