In trying to work out the timing of Jesus’ return, many people turn to Old Testament prophecy, the book of Revelation or even world events. Perhaps an easier approach would be to refer to the things that Jesus said about the topic. However, in Matthew 24:29-35, it has to be said that a wide variety of views abound. Some of what Jesus said requires careful thought. He was not one to contradict Himself! Even more than that, it’s good to remember that just as Jesus has proved right with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., so His words can be taken as being rock-solid. Through the confusion of various interpretations and theories, it is good to know that the guarantee of His return is His own promise!
One of the keys to understanding all that Jesus said in Matthew 24 and 25, is to carefully locate the time reference that Jesus is referring to. In Matthew 24:15-28, it’s faily clear that the bulk of what Jesus said relates to the fall of Jerusalem in 70A.D. – something that the disciples of Jesus would need to be prepared for. But, it’s not all just in the past. The scenes that Jesus describes around those events, can be understood as being predictive of the events that will also usher in the end of the age and Jesus’ return!
When the disciples of Jesus once asked Him some questions as they stood near the Temple, they could never have known that the answers Jesus gave them were answers that would echo down the corridors of time for thousands of years. But this is the case with the ‘Olivet Discourse’ recorded for us in Matthew’s gospel chapters 24 and 25. And so, in Matthew 24:1-14, the scene is set. The disciples are there. Jesus is there. And the questions focus upon the end of the age and the signs of His coming. But the answers are a little more complex, reminding us that the Lord Jesus is also our great Prophet who declares to us the truth that we might not fear but be busy with His gospel.
This Easter will certainly be one to remember. One like we’ve never had before. With all this extra time, it is a perfect opportunity to re-visit the foundations of our faith, to go back to the cross and think about what happened to Jesus and what He completed for us there. It really was an amazing day…but coming to Christ in repentance and faith could also prove to be your greatest day!
*This message quotes extensively from an article written by Andrew Lansdown. You can find the original article here. May it help us all to grasp the wonder of God’s grace to us in Christ.
In sending His disciples out on mission, He took time to prepare the 12 for what they would face in terms of rejection and hatred of the world, but He also took time to make sure His disciples knew of the consequences of their mission. In Matthew 10:34-42, Jesus told them that they would have to know that families would be divided over the gospel, also that their loyalty to Him would have to be greater than that of their families, and even though they would suffer privations in His service, there would be much reward awaiting them.
When Jesus sent out the 12 on mission, he wanted them to face up to reality – on the one hand they would know the hatred and rejection of the world, but on the other hand, they also needed to know some unseen realities working in their favour. Matthew 10:29-33 speaks of these realities. One was the Father’s care for them – something far greater than they would ever realise – and another was the eternal benefits of being faithful and loyal to Jesus in the present, no matter what the cost or danger.
In sending out the 12 disciples on mission, Matthew 10:24-38 records some more of the instructions Jesus gave to his men. While they had grand but false expectations of all going well and them receiving a ‘right royal’ reception, Jesus sought to put reality in place for them. They would not rise higher in status than He, their Teacher and Master, yet, in turn, they should not fear man and what man could do top them, but live with a greater and deeper fear of God.
When Jesus sent out the twelve on mission in Matthew 10:16-23, it was like he was sending them out to war – not that they were going out to kill, maim or fight – but that he sent them into enemy territory and needed to prepars them for what they would face. Rejection. Persecution. Death. The text is a wake up call to God’s people today… reminding us that the world’s hatred of the gospel and the Saviour will be passed down to us.
Chapters 8 and 9 of Matthew’s Gospel records so many of Jesus’ miracles that gave proof to who He is and was – the Messiah, the Son of God. But added to this, chapter 10 also tells us that He was the ‘Lord of the harvest’ who had come to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So, in Matthew 10:1-15, we find Jesus doing that by preparing his disciples to be sent out in His service. They would find it hard, as the rest of the chapter outlines, but in these verses, their task is fairly and squarely laid before them – and those who follow Him as disciples today!
In the next of the series of miracles performed by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 9:18-38, Jesus goes ‘one better’ than before…not only healing a blind man, delivering a demon possessed man, healing a woman suffering from a long term illness and raising a dead girl. However, the point of all these events is not for the sake of information but that we too might believe in Him. These verses also remind us why we should put faith in Him. It is because of the depth of His compassion for people – something that led Him all the way to the cross.