Lesson 101: The Mount of Olives Discourse/Christ's Second Coming
Matt 24:36-51, Mark 13:24-37, Luke 21:25-36
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 101. Alright, in our last lesson weread, what Icalled Matthew's transition section of Jesus' Mt. Olivet discourse (Matt. 24:29-35). Mark and Luke have essentially the same section; except, it does not serve the transition idea there. We'll read Mark and Luke in a minute or two. But, before we do; take a minute to review, in your mind, the setting one more time. Jesus with Peter, James, John and Andrew on the side of Mt. Olivet, over against the temple, Mark said in v.3; i.e. across the valley from the temple. Matthew gave three questions THAT the apostles asked Jesus; whereas Mark and Luke gave only two questions, you remember. The extra question recorded in Matthew has to do with the end of the world; i.e. Christ's second coming. Thus, Mark and Luke do not discuss the second coming as Matthew does. They touch on it, yes, because it relates to the other question, i.e. the destruction of the temple. Thus, you need to see THAT, Matthew gives us a section that Mark and Luke both omit. They omitted the question; they omitted the answer. So, the rest of Mark and Luke is comparable to Matthew's transition section; essentially so, with the exception of two or three verses of admonition for the apostles to watch and pray. And at the end, v.37 in Mark's account, this is generalized to include everyone. But, we're going to skip the final admonitions that Jesus gave the apostles as we read here; for the simple reason, the content of that section is more closely related to Matthew's second coming discussion. So, we'll double back and include it there. O.K. Let's read Mark first. Mark 13:24-31. If you're ready, beginning in Mark 13:24, let's read. "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the utter most part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see THESE THINGS come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all THESE THINGS be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."
O.K. while it fresh on your mind, let's read from Luke. Our reading will begin in Luke 21:25 and we'll read down through v.33. Are you tuned-in? It's Luke ch. 21. We'll begin in v.25. Let's read. "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when THESE THINGS begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see THESE THINGS come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass a way."
Alright, this is a built-in review of our last lesson. Jesus called their attention to some things that would happen following the destruction of the city. It's a highly figurative section, we said. The sun, the moon, the stars, the powers of heaven, etc. Some of the wording in Luke, simplify this a little. Take for instance, "upon the earth distress of nations." (v.25). "Men's hearts failing them for fear..." (v.26). That is more literally the idea. This will happen AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem. And finally, the age will culminate in Jesus' second coming in a cloud of heaven. Then, Jesus backed up and gave the parable of the fig tree to say in essence; you ask for a sign, I've given you several signs to follow. Then, Jesus said THESE THINGS would happen in their generation, i.e. in the lifetime of some of the apostles. And then Jesus pointed out that the signs he had given them were as sure as his word; which would last longer than heaven and earth.
Now, I think we're finally ready to close out Mark and Luke and get to the third question in Matthew; and Jesus' answer and discussion of that question. Let's read the rest of Luke, v.34-35-36. That takes us to the end of Jesus' speech as recorded by Luke. What I called an admonition section. Let's read, Luke 21:34 beginning. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the fact of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." O.K. as Isaid a final admonition, i.e. a caution, warning or encouragement. Don't let the "cares of this life" (v.34) trip you up. Essentially, the same wording is in the parable of the sower. It will come as a snare. Do you know what a snare is? A trap used to catch small animals. Bend over a hickory bush; tie it to one end of a carrot. Tie the other end of the carrot to the ground or the trunk of the bush. Tie a noose to the bush so the rabbit has to stick his head and neck through the noose to eat the carrot. When the rabbit eats the carrot into; guess what happens? That's a snare! Sudden destruction. The though applied both to the temple and city as well as the end of time. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always." (v.36).
Let's back up to Mark ch. 13. We'll read to the end of the chapter. Beginning in Mark 13:32. Ready? Starting with v.32, let's read. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."
O.K., two or three points and we'll move to Matthew. Did you notice in v. 32, Jesus said he did not know when the end of time would come? Jesus NOR the angels know! Only the Father in heaven knows when the final hour will be. V.33 is a short parable. This is an abbreviated form of the parable of the talents that we'll cover in Matthew's account. So, we'll discuss it there. The rest of Mark is devoted to "Watch and pray." So, let's go to Matthew.
Matt. 24:36-51, all of Matt. ch. 24. About 16 verses. Are you ready? Beginning in Matt. 24:36, let's read. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Alright, if you'll back up to v.36 in Matt. ch. 24; we'll touch on a few of these things. Matt, and Mark emphasized the critical secrecy with which our heavenly Father has hidden from man the time of Christ's second coming. This undoubtedly has made all generations live under equal expectation of the time of judgment. Whether we live until Christ comes again, or whether we die before that occurs the net effect is the same for each individual; in that we do not know when we shall die. Thus, God has set it up in such a way we must be prepared every hour. When we fail to watch for his coming; that's when we'll get surprised. Jesus said it would slip up on the world, like the Noah flood (v.37). Noah had preached to those people for over 100 year, Gen. ch. 6. They never took Noah's message seriously. Many today do not take the message of the N.T. seriously. Some today think they will get prepared the eleventh hour. Some think it's not necessary to obey Jesus, they think that anybody who does anything religiously, will be accepted. Some teach universalism, i.e. that everyone will be saved. Some think they are elected to salvation or damnation before the foundation of the world and nothing they can do will improve or diminish their chances. But, Jesus emphasized to watch and pray. Be prepared for that day. Jesus said, As it WAS in the days of Noah.. .so shall also the coming of the Son of man be, the judgment will be just as big a surprise as the flood was to the antediluvian world. The Lord had explained to the apostles that the days preceding the fall of Jerusalem would be unusual days in terms of many natural calamities, etc. But, in contrast to the fall of Jerusalem; the days that precede Christ's second coming will be a very normal time, eating, drinking and marrying, etc. Jesus used the thought about the two men in the field and the two women grinding once before; you'll remember, back in Luke 17:35-36. Someone has interpreted that to mean that exactly 50% of mankind will be saved and 50% will be lost; but, that is not the thought. The purpose of this discussion is to show the suddenness and the unexpected quality of Christ's second coming. The apostle John quoted Jesus in the last two verses of the N.T., at the end of Revelation, as saying (Jesus speaking) "Surely I come quickly." If you chase those Greek words a little the thought is, I come suddenly." We said before, to carry any illustration too far ruins the illustration. Matt. 7:13-14 would indicate the PERCENTAGE of those that will be saved is very low. Thus, Jesus exhorts in v.42, "Watch." Some have tried to prophecy and predict the end of the Christian age by using astrology and even the Bible, on which to base their calculations as to when Christ will come again. Obviously, that's absurd. So, when people dabble in such things; they merely expose their ignorance on the subject; because, Jesus said, "for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (v.42). It can't be said much plainer than that. In the last verse of Mark ch. 13, Jesus showed this part of his speech applied to everyone; not just the apostles. Then in v.43-44 of Matthew's account, Jesus repeated this thought using a mini parable. If one knows when a thief is coming; he is always prepared. But, because we don't know the timing; we are usually not prepared. So, v.44, "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." So, Jesus' recommendation is "Watch and pray." That's what he said in Mark 13:33. I never read that verse that I don't think of a story I read once about an old preacher back in the 1800's by the name of "Raccoon" John Smith. Raccoon John live over near Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. One Saturday evening he came into town and happened to meet two denominational preacher, i.e. circuit riders they were called. John and the two others went into a tavern to get a cherry bounce; whatever that was, I'm not sure. But, the two circuit riders insisted on making a scene in the restaurant by having a prayer before they drank their refreshment, i.e. after it was served. So, both of the denominational men started praying at the same time with that old country cadence; one sentence and UH! another sentence and UH! They prayed, and they prayed and they prayed. Everybody in the house had their eyes focused on John and the two men. So, to ease the tension; John, turned his little cherry bounce up and gulped it down at one swallow. He waited and waited; but the two men didn't stop, they were getting louder and louder and getting more and more attention. John finally pick up the other two drinks and swallowed both of them. Finally, when the two denominationals came to a loud "Amen!" and looked up; everybody in the house was giggling. The two men were very provoked and began to lambaste John. When things began to get a little out of hand; John said: "Wait a minute! There's a heap of good larnin in fer ye! The Good Lord said to WATCH AND PRAY, and you were praying without watching!" So, that's the way John analyzed their problem. It's important to get the right balance of obeying, praying and watching. As Jesus told the four apostles in Luke 21:34, "take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with...the cares of this life..." That's what v.45-51 says here in Matthew1 account. You see, Christians are servants in the Lord's household, i.e. the church. This figure is used in Gal. 6:10 and in Eph. 2:19. "To give them meat in due season", in the last part of v.45 is another way of saying to teach and learn God's word; i.e. sustain the family of God. I would like for you to read v.46, three times, "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." Do you want a blessing? Jesus said this is the way to assure it. You see, it's when we begin to take the urgency out of it and say in v.48, "My lord delayeth his coming"; that is when we begin to get over involved with the cares of this life. You see, nobody ever intended to become an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a thief, or a robber. It is only when we get over involved in the cares of this life and think, just this one time. One more won't hurt! Tomorrow I'll do better. Someone has said, tomorrow never comes. When we start putting our hopes in tomorrow; we're treading on thin ice. Jesus said, "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (v.50-51). I don't think it necessary for me to explain that verse. In II Cor. 6:2, Paul quoted Isa. 49:8 like this: "NOW is the day of salvation." So, until our next lesson, have a good day.