Matthew 24 - 25
Jesus said the unthinkable. The temple, God’s dwelling place among His people, would be destroyed once again. The disciples, in disbelief, come to Jesus as he’s seated on the Mount of Olives (hence the name “Olivet Discourse”), asking when. So, Jesus begins to tell them. Some of His words seem to be clearly describing the destruction of the temple, which history tells us took place at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. Others, however, seem to be describing events that have yet to take place. Biblical scholars have shed volumes of ink on this passage, seeking to understand which texts fall into which category. What we can probably say safely is that not everything in Matthew 24-25 took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, and avoid the extreme of seeing these as entirely past events. What we can also probably say safely is that some of these events did occur in 70 AD, and avoid the extreme of seeing these as entirely future events, yet to be fulfilled.
In light of Matthew 24:34, where Jesus says “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” I find it hard to argue literarily that the preceding verses in chapter 24 are not describing the destruction of Jerusalem, as that’s the direct question Jesus was answering. At some point beyond this, however, Jesus seems to transition into talking about His 2nd Coming. I find it very hard to argue that Jesus’ 2nd Coming is not the subject of the last portion of chapter 25 (verses 31-46). As for what’s in between, it’s often harder to tell with a high degree of certainty, so scholars seem to go one way or another. As an alternative to trying to fit everything neatly into one of these two categories, some scholars have seen these chapters as describing primarily the judgment of Jerusalem in 70 AD, yet that judgment being a type or forerunner of the final judgment upon Jesus’ return. By this line of thinking, it’s only fitting that the language often goes beyond what would take place just 40 years later, to describe the events of Jesus’ return at His 2nd Coming. Confused? It’s a lot, I know. Thankfully, Pastor Matt can answer all of your questions about it after service this Sunday!
Reflect: Despite the challenging nature of this passage with respect to timing, the parables Jesus teaches here nonetheless seem to give us significant lessons about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would have His followers ready and waiting for His return; Jesus would have His disciples putting to use the gracious talents they’ve been entrusted with; and Jesus would have His servants loving their neighbors, especially those society so often overlooks. How might the Lord be calling you to engage more wholeheartedly in one or all of these areas? Ask the LORD, by His grace, to help you to walk more faithfully in that regard .
Connect: Although we most certainly glean something of Jesus’ 2nd Coming in the Olivet Discourse, the clearest teaching about the judgment that will occur on that last Day is found in the book of Revelation. Praise the LORD that each and every one of His children’s names are written in the book of life, and they thus have nothing to fear in the judgment that awaits.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Rev. John McCombs
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.