"The End is Not Yet"
Text: Matthew 24 : 1 - 51
The disciples thought that “the end” was in sight! Surely the destruction of the temple signaled that the end was near? They were wrong in their understanding. Many things had to take place before God brought the curtains down! The challenging need of the hour was to be able to survive the tough times that lay ahead!
A TOUGHER MINDSET NEEDED
Jesus had emphasized the need to learn how to cope with tough times. He spoke about the need to learn how to carry their cross (Matthew 16:24-27). He Himself had shown His disciples how to cope by His lifestyle! It was time once again to strengthen the disciples further.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom
And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in
various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Many interpret these words of Jesus as “signs”. They may well be. Yet, the deeper lesson to be learned was even more fundamental! A weaker disciple would not be able to cope when tough times come! Only a strong disciple with a truly tough mindset would be able to live through war, famine, pestilences, earthquakes! And these are only the beginning of sorrows!
Did the disciples think that they were already quite tough because they had been trained under rigorous circumstances as disciples for the last three years? They moved from place to place, never certain that they would have a comfortable bed to rest for the night. They were never sure what problems they might encounter. There were times when their lives were in danger! These were important lessons, and they helped to strengthen them. However, Jesus now sought to prepare them to build an even tougher mindset!
Discouragement and despair dog the heels of those who suffer in extreme conditions brought on by war or natural disasters! Only those who were really tough could hope to rebuild their homes and their lives after having gone through war.
WARNING OF PERSECUTION
Would the disciples be spared from problems like war, famine and natural disasters? The answer was obvious! These sorrows of life cannot be averted! They will come when they will come! Yet, these were not the only problems that they would face. There would be other man-made problems!
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you,
and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”
This was not new instruction at all. Jesus had already intimated that they would be hated because they were associated with Him (Cf. Matthew 5:10-11). Would they be able to bear the stress and strain of this cross they were expected to carry?
“Deliver you up to tribulation”
The tribulation that they must expect would not be the same as that suffered in natural calamities. In the latter, everyone suffers. In this case, only those who were His disciples would be singled out for suffering.
“And kill you”
Jesus knew how His disciples would be persecuted and killed. Some would be imprisoned and left to rot there. Others would be stoned. Still others would be beheaded. Other means of destruction would be employed against those who professed faith in Him!
“Hated by all nations for My Name’s sake”
It is always a terrible feeling to be hated! The animosity, the dreaded power of negative energy can be an overwhelming thing to experience! His disciples would be the target of His enemies!
THERE WOULD BE THOSE WHO WOULD FALTER AND FAIL
Would everybody be able to cope naturally when tribulation comes? If the disciples thought that they would all be able to cope naturally, then they would have been very wrong. Jesus warned that there would be those who would falter and fail.
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another,
and will hate one another.”
“Many will be offended”
The stinging reality is that “MANY” would be offended. This word can also be translated “stumbled”. There was a time when John the Baptiser struggled with his doubts concerning the Identity of Jesus as the Christ. In Jesus’ answer to his doubts He urged John not be to “offended” or “stumbled” (Matthew 11:6 “Blessed is he who is not offended.” We have the same word here on Matthew 24:10 – skandalizo). Persecution would test the genuineness of the faith of so-called believers!
“Will betray one another”
The enemies of the faith would know how to exploit the believers. They would offer rewards to those who would betray their friends or “fellow-believers”.
“And will hate one another”
Those who are betrayed would hate those who betrayed them. The enemies would have a field day dividing and conquering “the believers”.
Only the genuine and the stout-hearted could hope to overcome all obstacles!