Deeply Concerned Disciples
Text: Matthew 24 : 1 - 51
The disciples of Jesus had come to know that their Master would never say anything to sensationalize things. He was not exaggerating! If Jesus made a statement, then it would be as good as done! They had seen the power of His word just a short while ago. He had made a simple, almost casual remark about the fruitless fig tree, and it shriveled away the very next day (Cf. Matthew 21:18-22). With a great sense of urgency and concern, the disciples waited for the moment Jesus was free to ply Him with questions.
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him
privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what
will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'”
The disciples were really excited and anxious about what Jesus had just spoken. They put to Him three questions, though it seemed as if it was a long and involved one.
1. “When will these things be?”
Jesus had predicted the destruction of the temple. That would be a very major event! When would that take place?
2. “What will be the sign of Your coming?”
Jesus from time to time would drop hints that He would one day return. Let us recall what Jesus once said to His disciples.
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father
with His angels, and then He will reward each according
to his works”
Would Jesus give His disciples a sign of His coming? That would surely go a long way to encourage them.
3. “And of the end of the age?”
Jesus also had intimated to His disciples that there was such a thing as “the end of the age”. In the parable of the Dragnet, specific mention was made of this period of time.
“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come
forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
and cast them into the furnace of fire.”
Were these three events related? If Jerusalem were to fall, would that mean that Jesus would return and bring about the end of the age? The disciples were not sure about these things, and so the logical thing to do was to ask Jesus for a further word of explanation.
NO SIMPLE ANSWERS
Sometimes, there are just no simple answers to life’s many questions. Jesus, of course had all the answers. However, He also knew that the disciples had not yet developed a full comprehension of all that He had taught them. What He had just said about the destruction of the temple was a single event. There were other things that He had not yet revealed to His disciples. Perhaps, it was now time to teach them how they should comprehend God’s eschatological plan. (Eschatology may be simply described as ‘a study of the end times’).
“And Jesus answered and said to them:
‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come
in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.
And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that
you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass,
but the end is not yet.'”
Jesus did not answer the questions of the disciples in the way they might have hoped. Instead, the answer to their questions came in the form of prophetic truth-statements. In order to understand why Jesus did that, we need to appreciate the following things:-
1. The disciples apparently thought that all three events were linked together
This might explain why the disciples rolled all these three things into a single question to Jesus.
a) The Destruction of the Temple
b) The Return of Jesus
c) The end of the Age
2. The disciples’ view of the end time had to be corrected
They apparently believed in the “immediacy” of the Return of Jesus. They had already accepted that His death was inevitable, much though that thought grieved their hearts. If Jesus were to commence His reign after His death and resurrection, then things would be more bearable!
3. Correction of views needed
Jesus had to correct the erroneous views of the disciples first! He did not want His disciples to think that “the end” would come so soon after His death on the Cross. Obviously, they needed a whole lot more instruction.
A lack of knowledge would make them fall prey to false Christs who would appear on the scene. Many would be deceived by these false Messiahs! The disciples of all people must not end up being deceived.