Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:1-51
I used to think this chapter was a grim preview of the end of the world. It reads like a warning: Do not find yourself in sin. Any day could be when the moon and sun go dark and brimstone rains down.
To my young mind, only the opening words of Jesus’s sermon here were for His disciples. Jesus told the disciples the stones of the temple would be cast down, and we know from history the Roman army carried out that destruction about forty years later. For the disciples looking at the temple, Jesus’s prophecy came true. The temple was torn down, stone by stone. The rest of the chapter was about that harrowing day to come. I saw myself in a space between verse 2, a prediction about the temple fulfilled two thousand years ago, and verse 3, the end of the world.
But this message is not two parts; it was not just for the people who saw the destruction of the temple, nor is it just for those who will see Jesus’s return. His words are for all of us who are part of the Church.
There is a warning here, but there is also comfort and a promise. “See that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:6). The good news will be proclaimed. Jesus’s words will never pass away. Christ is hope and comfort in these times. The disciples listening to Christ saw the temple’s end but not before they saw the resurrected Lord. Their faith strengthened them for the crucibles of war and famine and oppression. That same hope in the resurrection and the kingdom of heaven are gifts to all believers who face the tribulations and persecutions of the Church.
Jesus says “…the one who endures to the end will be delivered” (v.13). I am sure that on my own I could not endure the trials that the apostles and many other believers have faced. But our faith is in one who did endure to the end. Jesus endured when He was taken from a garden and His disciples fled. He does not warn His listeners of dangers He has not faced or encourage them to stand against suffering that He does not understand.
He is enduring, and His kingdom is coming. “…recognize that He is near—at the door” (v.33). In the worst of the tribulations we face, even then could be the moment that “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v.44).
Written by David Chaniott