Matthew 24:1-2 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 24.2 But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."
There's an old saying, you can't see the forest for the trees - which teaches us the importance of perspective. But there's another old saying, don't throw out the baby with the bath water - which reminds us how important it is to know what is really important. Do you know what's important, do you know how to order your priorities? That's the question we want to look at.
We are beginning to enter the season of Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, tinsel, lights, decorations and wonderfully wrapped boxes - for many this is the stuff of the season, with party after party to celebrate it. That's the joy, that's the season, that's the story, or so we are lead to believe by what we see and hear.
I'd like you to imagine a box under the Christmas tree, a big box, well wrapped, heavy but it doesn't make a sound when you shake it, and you wonder what it is, big boxes look important, and you long for the day when you can open it. And the day comes, and this was all you had on your mind, and so that's where you start. And so you tear off the wrapping paper, and cut through the tape to see what's inside, and as it opens, you see another beautiful box, smaller than the first, well wrapped, and you take it out and proceed to open it, tearing off the paper, cutting through the tape, till you can see what's inside, and as it opens you see another beautiful box, smaller than the first, well wrapped, and you take it out and proceed to open it, tearing off the paper, cutting through the tape, till you can see what's inside, and as it opens you see another beautiful box. And so it proceeds box after box until you reach the last box, and its empty - how do you feel? Cheated?
Its holy week, Sunday was Palm Sunday, Jesus had made triumphal entry, he had cleansed the temple, the Passover is at hand, in the previous chapter, Jesus had told everyone that what was important, was not the temple, but the one who dwells in the temple - and yet here are the disciples so impressed with the temple buildings, that they have forgotten what is important. Itís a case of thinking that the wrapping paper was more important than the contents. What's important is Jesus, Jesus is with them, and in patient love Jesus tells them that as impressive as the buildings are, they will perish. What is important is Jesus, Christmas is all about Jesus, our life, is all about Jesus, everything else is passing away. Jesus tells us that how these things will happen, Jesus tells us because he loves us, Jesus doesn't want us to trust in something that is perishing, Jesus doesn't want us to be disappointed. Jesus wants us to know that he is our savior, and that his blood washes away all our sins, Jesus wants us to know that he has given us everlasting life.
We are still impressed by buildings, but the church is not the buildings, but it is the people, the people redeemed by the blood of Jesus, the people who gather to hear the good news of salvation, the people who sing God's praises, the people who tell the world- the good news of Jesus. God has given us a sense of direction, and a sense of purpose, he has washed away our sins, and made us a new creation. And still we forget what is important, its not what we do, but what God has done for us in Jesus our Savior.