“A Time for You to Bear Testimony” Luke 21:12-19
theme for March is “A time for you to bear testimony” and to bear
testimony is to tell others what you know. For instance, when you see a
great movie and tell all your friends about it, you are bearing
testimony that the movie was good.
Or if you catch a nasty cold you may be absent from school for some time. When you return, your classmates will want to know why you were absent and they may even tease you by saying you just played hooky.
When you tell them what happened, how sick you were, your visit to the doctor’s office, all the sneezing, coughing, chicken soup etc. you are bearing testimony to what happened. Your friends may not believe you but you are bearing testimony nonetheless.
This is what this Gospel passage is about.
Jesus tells His disciples that a time was coming for them to bear testimony about what they knew about Jesus.
The story begins like this. Jesus is teaching in the Temple which was very important to those who worshipped God. Everyone gave whatever money they could to build and maintain the Temple. All of its courtyards and buildings covered an area of nearly 5 football fields long by 4 football fields wide. It was enormous! Everything was ornately decorated with gold and jewels and all sorts of artwork. It was truly impressive.
When some of Jesus’ disciples commented on how impressive the Temple was Jesus tells them that their time to bear testimony was not far away. He says, “As for what you see here, [meaning the temple] the time will come when not one stone will be left on another, everyone of them will be thrown down.”
Since the Temple was so important to their way of life, the disciples thought Jesus meant that when the Temple was destroyed, the end of the world would come! So they asked Jesus two questions 1) when will this happen and 2) what sign will we see to know it is coming. As you could imagine, they would really want to know!
Jesus was not angry with their questions but He did not really answer them directly. Even though the world will indeed end one day, Jesus is more concerned with His disciples knowing and trusting Him rather than knowing when the final day would be.
Therefore, He told His disciples what they would need to know so that they could bear testimony about Him. And what Jesus told His disciples then holds true for us today because we also will bear testimony about Him.
Here is what He told them.
Do not to be deceived about people proclaiming that they are Jesus and that the end of the world is near.
This means that they must remain close to Jesus and know Him so well so as not to be fooled by some future imposter. Jesus says that “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14).
He also tells them, Do not be afraid of the end times. They will come when God wants. There will indeed be wars, and earthquakes and disasters like Hurricane Katrina which recently happened. But Jesus tells them that the end would not come right away. In fact Jesus goes on to describe even greater calamities that will occur before the last day but before all that, He tells them they will have opportunity to bear testimony about Him.
Jesus tells his Disciples that they will be brought before the religious and political rulers and be persecuted and many put into prison because they believed in Him. This would be their time to bear testimony to God. To tell what they believed about Jesus.
But even in the face of such persecution Jesus tells them, “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourself. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” And he encourages them to endure to the end.
Even so, some of them would be put to death because of their belief and many of the Icons you see in church today are of those early martyrs.
Now I doubt that many of us will face such persecution but nonetheless, talking about Jesus is sometimes unpopular and can feel like persecution. We will have our time to bear testimony. To tell others what we believe about Jesus.
It may be in class you’re taking or with friends who are having a difficult time and need the encouragement that God loves them. It may even be with your family as decisions are made about what to watch on TV or what to do on vacation.
To bear testimony about someone means that you must know someone. So, how do you get to know Jesus?
You already know Him and I encourage you to know Him more and more. It began with your Baptism when through your godparents you were joined to Christ. It continues as you pray the Creed; I believe in one God, Father, Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth… It grows as you learn to pray, read your bible and listen to the voice of God. In these ways you learn that God loves you and you begin to do what pleases Him because of His love for you.
Go to confession and communion regularly. Pray and read the bible with your family. Apologize right away for the wrongs you’ve done and forgive those who have wronged you. Sound familiar? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….”
In such ways you will stay close to Jesus and whenever your time to bear testimony comes, in whatever form, you will have nothing to fear. You will, as St Peter says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Jeff Citro, MA., M.Div, a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School
of Theology serves in the Department of Social Ministry at Holy Cross.
The Mission of this department is to equip future church leaders in the
practical application of Orthodox Theology and Tradition.