At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matt. 24:23-25, NIV)
As Jesus gets ready to leave this world, which has to be depressing enough, he keeps on bringing bad news to the disciples. The Temple would be destroyed, you should prepare to flee Jerusalem… all the kinds of things they’re really not wanting to hear.
He warns them of false messiahs. False messiahs show up in times of calamity. They feed on fear. They seem to perform amazing acts so people who are already in fear might think, “Wow! This is the one who can beat back the bad guys!”
Jesus warns them to walk in discernment and faith, not fear. They could understand what was happening and not panic.
False messiahs don’t show up in good times. They show up in times of fear to keep spinning up fear and hoping people will abandon good sense and simply follow them.
We are called to discern the times. And that can’t be driven by our fear.