Scripture: Mark 13:1-8; Revelation 21:1-7
This Sunday we are back to our sermon series, Church and State: The Rise of Early Christianity. We completed the first part of this series in November where we were tracking the rise of the early church from 30-70 A.D. In the last sermon I preached in this series, I told you that by the late 60’s, the church had essentially fallen into total chaos. The mother church in Jerusalem, run by James (Jesus’ brother), had almost completely stalled out because the Jews were no longer interested in Jesus’ message, and many of Paul’s churches had fallen into chaos for a variety of different reasons.
Add to this the fact that by 70 A.D., all the major leaders of the early church – James, Peter, and Paul – had died, and essentially the church was in a position of being flat-lined. Jesus’ movement was dead on all fronts. Almost all of the Christian churches were in turmoil without a way of getting everyone on the same page. It looked like Jesus and his disciples would slowly fade into obscurity and be a footnote in the pages of history. But that’s not what happened.
The second part of this series is designed to tell you the story of how Christianity rose out of the ashes of total destruction. Even though the church should have been down and out, there were a number of different factors that aligned, which allowed the church to survive. I set the stage in the first part of this series by explaining that the letters Paul wrote to his churches scattered throughout the Mediterranean would become the foundation for the second generation of Christians.
But in order to understand why those letters became so important to the second generation, we need to talk about what happens to the church from 70-90 A.D., and this begins with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Our goal on Sunday is to talk about how this event is one of the most pivotal in the history of Judaism and one of the most pivotal events in the history of Christianity, though most Christians do not know it. It’s going to be an important Sunday for your learning and the foundation of your faith. I look forward to seeing you. Stay warm, it’s cold out there!