5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:5-11

From archeological excavations, we only get a small glimpse of the magnificence of the Temple area. It was a massive structure and considered an engineering marvel in the first century. From the writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian, we know that the building was overlaid with gold and the areas not covered were painted the purest white. The effect was astounding. When standing on the Mount of Olives, the highest hill in the area, you can see the panorama of the city. The sun hitting the Temple complex would have been an extraordinary sight as light reflected off the gold and white making the structure appear to glow. No wonder the disciples were awed!

It is always easy to get caught up in the visual, earthly trappings around us. Who isn’t astounded by the towering buildings of New York City, or the majesty of the great cathedrals of Europe? We are easily impressed. Jesus then steps forward and says, “Look for more than the physical. See Me working.” He points prophetically to the destruction of this marvelous Temple (which happened in 70 A.D.) and then to the signs of the End.

Jesus gives us this Call as well. Don’t get caught in the shortsighted impressive moment. Look to the greater message. Christ will return and create a new heaven and a new earth.

For your Lenten reflection: How do you keep focused on the Promise of Christ and not on the shortsighted moment? Do you get caught in the stress of surviving and forget that there is a bigger plan that God is unfolding? Where do you put your trust, in all that is impressive or in the returning Savior?

Dear God, Thank you for the wonders of this world. You have made us such a creative people. Help us to look beyond the earthly impressive to your bigger plan, the plan that will one day bring us all home. In Christ’s name, Amen.