When we read Matthew 24:13 – “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” – what do we think of? I’m currently reading a book about the life of Queen Elizabeth I of England that focuses on her life before becoming Queen, and there is a lot that reminds me of Matthew 24:9-10, which says, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” Elizabeth’s older sister Mary, a Catholic, pursued often violent methods to purge the country of Protestantism, as chronicled in the sensational book, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which soon became the 2nd most-read book in England after the Bible. John Foxe listed story after story of Protestants being tortured, burned alive, and persecuted in other extreme ways that sometimes are what we think of reading Matthew 24:13.
But there is more to the context than that. Matthew 24:11-12 say, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” This idea of love growing cold is immediately before “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” In a martyrdom scenario, enduring is not the same as living, so enduring means something other than staying alive. So, what does a Christian endure in order to be saved?
When Jesus was on the cross and said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” in Luke 23:34 I believe He was modeling this endurance. On the cross, the lawlessness of the world had increased to the point where God Himself was abandoned and killed by a populist mob, fueled by a conspiracy of religious and political leaders. All of Christ’s followers were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, yet He continued to love. Yet, instead of calling upon an army of angels and freeing Himself from the cross, He forgave.
Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that while lawlessness is increasing, “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:6 that “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.” In opposition to this, false prophets will tell us to be alarmed and they will tell us that there is so much lawlessness that we need to do something other than love God and love our neighbor. Some of these prophets will claim to be the Christ (Matthew 24:5), but they will insist on a path other than that of the cross. Perhaps using a Facebook post fed through a heartless algorithm, they will say “The time is coming when good people will have to do bad things to very bad people,” even though Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Repeating yesterday’s post, when I’m struggling to face the world as I see it, I ask about 3:16, “Exactly which world did Jesus love enough to die for?” The answer is this one. Not just the part of it I get along with or that I’d pick to be in my Facebook feed if I had full control. Sometimes bearing our cross is just being willing to love those Christ loved, even when we don’t want to, and even when they hate us as they hated Him.
Praise God that Christ loved me, because I too easily find people I’d really prefer to stay away from, but if Christ had taken that approach, maybe He would have never come down to earth to die for me.
Father, forgive us, for we do not know what we do. We praise You that You endured to the end for our sake.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
 At other times and places, Protestants have persecuted Catholics, or each group has fought among themselves. This is only one example among (sadly) many.
 I’m planning a history post for next March 20, the first publication date of this book in 1563.