Summary: Jesus gives us a peak at what the future holds.
If you look all around you, there are signs of what is coming in the days ahead. The leaves are off of the trees, the wind is getting colder, and the sun is setting earlier. If you walk in to Wal-Mart, the shorts are on clearance and the scarves, gloves, shovels, and ice scrapers are in prominent places. If you see all of these things, your conclusion can only be one thing; what’s coming? Winter is coming! Snow is on its way! It’s easy to see this because the signs are all there. Everything is pointing towards winter and we even got a little preview the other night with a light snow.
Well, something else is coming. As we continue in our look at the book of Matthew, we have arrived at the 24th chapter. Here, Jesus’ disciples ask him a question that all of us have thought about at one time or another. What will the end be like, and when will it come? Everyone has a curiosity about the future. Everyone has wondered, at one time or another, what’s going to happen at the end of time. The Book of Revelation, a guidebook of prophecy that lays out the end of the story, the future of mankind, is always a hot topic for study among Christians. When the Left Behind series came out, based on the events in Revelation, they were an instant hit. Christians and Non-Christians alike read the books ad looked forward with great expectation to the release of the next one in the series. People want to know what’s in store for us when life on Earth is done. We’re curious! Satan has used that to his advantage and led many people astray with psychics, mediums, astrology, horoscopes, palm-readers, and on and on. Each of these capitalizes on our natural curiosity about what tomorrow brings. The disciples were no different. They had listened to Christ’s teaching, they had followed where he led them, and now, as His teaching became tougher to understand, as He talked about death and resurrection, they wanted to know when the end would come and how they would know when it was close. Just like we can recognize the signs that point to winter, Jesus shares with them some truths about what signs will point to His return, to the Second Coming, that day that all of history has pointed towards and led up to when the trumpet will sound and the church will rise to meet our Savior in the air! It is the most blessed truth and promise in all of Scripture. Jesus is coming again.
We’ve had to skip a chapter here so I want to just catch you up to where we are this morning. We are in what’s known as Passion Week. This is the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry before He is Crucified by the Romans through the efforts of the Jewish leaders. Everything in this week is boiled down to the essentials. He re-teaches and hammers home the points that He wants to make sure the disciples grasp before He returns to heaven and unleashes them to the ministry He has called them to. Much of the early part of the week is spent with the Pharisees. He has told three parables, each one exposing their hypocrisy. He has fielded three questions, each designed to trick Him and expose Him as a fake. Each had the opposite effect and it was the Pharisees who looked bad. And then in chapter 23, which we are skipping over, the gloves come completely off and just in case anyone had missed the subtlety of the parables, Jesus rips into the Pharisees. He lists seven woes and dresses the Pharisees down for their hypocrisy, their false piety, their worthless outer holiness, and the way that they have oppressed the people and led them astray. He uses the word hypocrite over and over, He calls them fools, He calls them snakes and He wraps it up nicely with this thought:
MT 23:33 "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
No one talked to these men like this! These were the religious leaders, these were the men with all of the power but with righteous passion, Jesus exposed them for who they were and revealed the heart of God, what was important to God, a clean heart, a humble heart.
Even in the midst of this discourse, Jesus shows compassion and shows a depth of love and a longing for these men to “get it” and to turn to Him.
MT 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.