14 January 2019

Matthew 24
Psalm 148

Jesus left the temple and was walking away…

Matthew 24:1a

The use of two verbs for emphasis gives this an intentionally ominous ring.

The disciples who are village boys from the north are hugely impressed by the magnificent Temple and its surrounds. Jesus saw it differently (verse 2). The massive stone blocks of the platform dwarf the tourists and those praying at the ‘Wailing Wall’. The Temple itself is long gone, never rebuilt.

Jesus walks on to become the exalted Son of man whose return will be heralded by the sounding of the last trumpet (verse 31). Jesus faces His final confrontation with the Temple authorities in the assurance of His glorious return to the world ‘with power and great glory’ (verse 30, with Mark 14:60ff).

The disciples asked Jesus for answers to two questions: (a) When will the Temple be destroyed? and (b) What sign will there be of the close of the age and His coming in glory? Jesus answers both questions, but seems more concerned with the interim threats posed by false messiahs, the terrible sufferings of the siege of Jerusalem, and the need for His followers to always be ready to meet Him.

Roman occupation over the next 37 years will explode in Jewish armed rebellion, the siege of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple to the ground—evidence for Jesus as political analyst and authentic prophet. His coming at the end of the age will be with the shock of a lightning strike (verse 27). It will authenticate no futurist think tank for political analysis and no cranky calculation by the lunatic fringe. It will authenticate Jesus as Messiah and Lord worldwide.

Yes, the Temple central to Judaism has gone. The Roman Empire and its gods, likewise. But Jesus is more than a prophet. He is Lord who opens the eyes of the blind, calls Lazarus back to life, leaves His own grave clothes behind in the empty tomb, eats fish with His friends afterwards, and invites Thomas to check out the wounds from His crucifixion. Faith in Jesus is not blind faith or based solely in His prediction about the Temple.

It is a faith in what we can’t see now and an outcome without a date attached. An expectant faith.

‘Who then is the faithful and wise servant…?’ (verse 45).  

That is Jesus’ question to His disciples in turn.

‘Faithful and wise’. ‘Servant’.   

Who, me?