FRAGILITY OF LIFE
‘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.’ (Luke 21:6 NIV)
Jesus surprises his disciples. They are in this massive temple in Jerusalem. People are coming in and making their gifts to the temple. Some of his disciples remarked about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. It took 46 years for King Herod to build this temple. King Herod wanted his temple to outshine even Solomon’s temple.
Yet Jesus makes a bold prediction. A time will come when not one stone will be left on another. Every stone will be thrown down. At the very least, Jesus is telling his disciples that today’s temples can be toppled down tomorrow. Things that we take for granted may not be there tomorrow…Kodak, Blockbuster, Sears, Concorde, Nortel…Such is the fragility of life.
It was August 1988. I was at the old Kuala Lumpur International Airport. My parents and my brother were there. I was about to leave to go to Vancouver. My spiritual experience at IVCF at university in Australia had made me thirsty for more in-depth study. I felt that God was calling me to go to Regent College in Vancouver to do some Biblical and theological studies. I felt that while I was still relatively young, I wanted to spend some time in reading the Bible and thinking through its theological themes. I kissed my parents, goodbye. As the plane left the airport, a horrible thought crossed my mind. My parents were getting on in years. Mum and Dad had their health problems. Would that be the last time I saw them alive? Would that final parting at the airport be the final impressions I would have of Mum and Dad? I suddenly realised that life can be fragile and sometimes turn for the worse. Such is the fragility of life.
That was not the last time I saw my parents. I was blessed to have them visit me in Canada and I visit them in Malaysia. Mum went home to be with Jesus in 2005. I have always been thankful that she got to meet her Canadian grandchildren. Life can be fragile, but God is there.
Jesus also tells his disciples that despite the fragility of life, there is something or Someone who stands beyond life and time. This is the eternal God who guarantees that his words will never pass away.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Luke 21:33 NIV)
The story of Advent is therefore the story of the eternal God breaks into the time-limited human world. That was the first coming in Bethlehem. Yet Advent also reminds us that there is a second coming. Jesus is returning. This gives us hope when we face the fragility of life. God is there.