October 24th, 2006
Is it possible to know the future? Some people make a lot of money from predicting the future, but the predictions rarely turn out to be accurate. But if you happen to be the all-knowing God of the Universe, your predictions are likely to be more accurate. In today’s reading Jesus gives his followers some insights into what the future holds, and unfortunately the picture is not that rosy. There will be wars and rumours of wars. False messiahs will set themselves up. Followers of Jesus will be persecuted, hated, arrested and killed. But no-one will know when the end will come. So we need to live with urgency as if life could end tomorrow, at the same time as we live as if life will last a long time.
Matthew’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 24
24:1 When Jesus had left the temple and was walking away, his disciples pointed out to him the buildings of the temple. 24:2 But he answered, “You see all of these things? I can guarantee that everything will be thrown down until there won’t be one stone left on top of another.”
24:3 The disciples came to him privately as he sat on the Mount of Olives, asking, “When will these things happen? What is the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”
24:4 Jesus answered, “Make sure no one leads you astray. 24:5 Many people will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. 24:6 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars don’t be disturbed, because all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 24:7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different places. 24:8 All these things are just the beginning of the birth pains. 24:9 People will hand you over to persecution and they will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 24:10 Many will stumble and betray one another and hate one another, 24:11 and many false prophets will arise to lead many astray. 24:12 Because anarchy will reign supreme, the love of many will grow cold, 24:13 but if you endure to the end you will be saved. 24:14 This good news of the kingdom will be preached to all humankind as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
24:15 “So when you see the ultimate sacrilege which was predicted by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24:16 then people in Judea should flee to the mountains. 24:17 If you’re on the housetop don’t go down to rescue goods from your house. 24:18 If you’re in the field don’t go home to get your clothes. 24:19 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! 24:20 Pray that your flight will not be in the winter or on a Sabbath. 24:21 It will be a time of greater suffering that there has ever been since the beginning of the world, or ever will be. 24:22 Unless those days had been shortened, no one would be saved, but those days will be shortened for the sake of the chosen ones.
24:23 “If anyone tells you, ‘Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24:24 There will be false christs and false prophets and they will perform great signs and wonders to lead astray even the chosen ones if possible.
24:25 “I have given you advance warning. 24:26 So if they tell you, ‘He is in the wilderness,’ don’t go out; ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ don’t believe it. 24:27 The coming of the Son of Man will be like the lightning which flashes from the east and is seen even in the west. 24:28 The vultures gather wherever the carcass is. 24:29 Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will go out, the moon will stop shining, the stars will fall from the sky, and the forces of the heavens will be shaken. 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the nations of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24:31 He will send out his angels with a great trumpet call, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
24:32 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and its leaves sprout you know that the summer is near. 24:33 In the same way you will know that the time is near, knocking on the door, when you see all these things. 24:34 I can guarantee that this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 24:36 No one except my Father knows that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven.
24:37 “The coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah. 24:38 In the days before the flood people were eating and drinking and getting married until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 24:39 and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away. The coming of the Son of Man will be just like this. 24:40 Two people will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left; 24:41 two people grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left. 24:42 Watch out. You don’t know in what hour your Lord comes. 24:43 If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming he would have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. 24:44 So be ready, because the Son of Man will come in an hour that you don’t expect.
24:45 “Which faithful and wise servant does the master appoint over his household, to give them their food in due season? 24:46 Blessed is the servant whom the master finds working when he comes. 24:47 I can guarantee that the master will set him over all that he has. 24:48 But if that evil servant should say to himself, ‘My lord is delaying his arrival,’ 24:49 and begins to mistreat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, 24:50 the master will come in a day when the servant doesn’t expect it, and at a time when he doesn’t know it, 24:51 and will rip him to shreds, and put him out with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Entry Filed under: Courage