Over the centuries, people have been enthralled with end time prophecies. Books have been written, movies produced, and lots and lots of predictors have tried to calculate when Jesus will return. This passage in Matthew is the beginning of several glimpses of the future. I tend to trust these because it comes from Jesus directly (via Matthew’s remembrance). Over the next few readings, we’ll take a deeper look at what Jesus is saying here.
We see that the disciples, too, were curious. They wanted some answers. To understand where their questions come from, it might do us good to consider some context. These men were expecting the Messiah. Their expectations had been that the Messiah would come to establish his kingdom. Jesus had just triumphantly entered Jerusalem–remember the donkey? They also expected that an Elijah-like forerunner would come to pave the way. Jesus identified this as John the Baptist.
The destruction of the temple that Jesus spoke of would happen only 40 years later. In the Spring of 70 A.D. General Titus and his Roman army would lay siege to Jerusalem, destroying the temple beyond recognition. As I understand it, the wailing wall still in existence today was not actually part of the temple itself but a retaining wall around the mount.
So with those pictures in mind, Jesus tells them of the temple’s destruction and all the natural disasters that would happen. Jesus never put a time frame on these events. The disciples wanted to be ready. Do you think they were expecting Jesus to tell them they would be persecuted for being his followers?
It’s even true for Christ followers today. We are not immune to persecution. Think of how Christians are being stifled these days. The court systems are full of cases where people are claiming religious freedom of expression, while the world is saying, you shouldn’t be doing that. In other places in the world, Christians are in hiding for their own protection.
Certainly, we all long for the day when “the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.“
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for all the blessings you give me each day. You have promised that you will return. I want to persevere through the trials of this life. I am looking forward to your glorious return. If it happens during my lifetime, I want to be ready just like the disciples. Help prepare me each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.