4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.
5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.
6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Every woman who has ever had a baby has a birth story. And while they are all unique in small ways, the process and outcome is the same. You experience labor pains, they get worse, then they get a whole lot worse, and then you have a baby. (I’ll make an exception for the planned C-Section.) But this is the perfect analogy for describing the process leading up to Jesus’ return. I must admit, I find it a little amusing that He uses this description on a bunch of guys. They might know in theory what He’s talking about, but it’s all speculation. The mom’s in the crowd – they get it. Everything is going to escalate until it seems like the situation is completely out of control. Then when the pain is the greatest the true joy begins and the pain is forgotten.
As we look back over history we see that Jesus wasn’t wrong. There have always been wars, famines, and natural disasters. Perhaps that is because the Father wants every generation to be prepared for Jesus’ return. We all need to believe that His return is imminent because it is. The big warning in this passage comes in verse 4. “See that no one leads you astray.” No matter what generation you claim the threat from those who would cause you to walk away from God is ever present. In the days of Jesus there were many who actually claimed to be the Messiah. In the book of Acts we find words from a Pharisee named Gamaliel who advised his fellow Pharisees to remain calm about the ministry of Jesus’ Apostles.
34But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
35And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.
36For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.
37After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.
38So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail;
39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,
40and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Even today we have those who make claims about themselves as the Messiah. Those who are old enough (yes, I’m old enough) will remember Jim Jones and David Koresh. Both of these men claimed to be the messiah only to lead their followers into death; and of course there have been others. But we were warned 2,000 year ago by the True Messiah to beware of false claims. How can we be protected against such false claims? Know the Word and listen to the Spirit. People who know the truth are much more difficult to deceive.