Lesson 98: The Mount Olives Discourse (Introduction)
Matt. 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-4, Luke 21:5-7
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 98. Welcome again. In our last lesson we cover John 12:20-50 about the Greeks that came to Jesus. We found some very interesting and very significant teachings of Jesus in that section. I told you that MAY or MAY NOT have happened in the temple. However we covered it at this point because the content fit well, not because it was necessarily chronologically correct. Nevertheless, in this lesson today, we must go back to Tuesday, after all the attempts to catch Jesus in his word Tuesday morning, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the lawyer, the students sent by the Pharisees, after Jesus' parables and finally his question to them about David's Son and after the scathing sermon in Matt. ch. 23: woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (seven times), and after the poor widow and the two mites; later that day, probably in the afternoon or evening; when Jesus left the temple; is the setting for the lesson we are embarking upon. This is a long section. It will take several lessons to cover Jesus' speech and lesson on this occasion. Because of the length of this section and the fact that we're going to break it up into several lessons CAN HAVE the bad effect of causing us to lose continuity, i.e. see it as one occasion of possibly one hour. Matthew used two chapters to cover Jesus' speech on this occasion. Mark and Luke used one chapter each. Matthew ch. 24-25 is almost 100 verses. When we add the material in Mark and Luke; the total comes to nearly 170 verses. Which is more verses than was used in the sermon on the mount. However, the repetition is greater here than in the sermon on the mount. Thus, less new material is presented. But, it is very significant that you take the time to get this occasion, the setting and the questions firmly in mind and apply them to every facet of Jesus' teaching and keep this section in firm context all the way through. Because of the sure length of this section, we're NOT going to read everything up front, as we've been doing. However, I would suggest that you turn the tape player off and read this material about two or three times right now, i.e. get familiar with the general content; before we discuss this section. We're going to read it together, section by section; using the natural divisions of Jesus' speech; but, we won't read it all at one time. Further, I need to warn you; that, this section is a difficult section. It has been misused, and misused, in the past; teaching things that Jesus did not teach. So, if you have been pre-programmed; let's take a fresh look. Context!, context!, context! Caution! Caution! Caution! Many false doctrines have their roots in this section. There are about three or four parables intermingled in to Jesus' speech. We must see these parables as part of Jesus' answer to the questions asked. O.K. let's read! Let's try to get the setting in mind. Let's read the first three verses of Matt. ch. 24. This is the last time Jesus left the temple. This was Tuesday afternoon. Are you ready? Matt. 24:1-3, let's read. "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" O.K. let's rehash this a little before we go to Mark and Luke. As they were leaving the temple, Jesus' apostles being from Galilee were impressed by parts of the temple structure. I think that even you and I would be impressed with that great white limestone structure; especially if we could project ourself into the times. King David had bought the land about 1000 years before from Oman the Jebusite (that's in II Chronicles 3:1). Solomon had excavated the hill top called Mt. Moriah into a flat field of
about 50 acres. The first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in about 586 'B.C. The second temple was removed to the foundation about 19 EC by Herod-the-great for restoration and for about the last four decades; at the time we're talking about: that temple had been gradually re-built largely with public money, to a most magnificent state, at the time we're talking about in AD 33. The stone in the walls were put there at the time of Solomon and were unbelievably large. Some single stones weighed many, many tons. It's most likely that Pilate and the kings that followed Herod-the-great continued to politic the Jews by providing some public funds to continue building and expanding the temple as we,ll as the money provided by the Jews themselves, using money like the two mites of the widow along with those who cast in of their abundance, that Jesus called to the attention of the disciples. So, as I said, the apostles and disciples were impressed by the great stones and building of the temple. Thus, Matthew tells us here in v.l of ch. 24; that the disciples came to Jesus to show him the buildings of the temple. This doesn't mean that Jesus had not seen the temple before; it merely means, they were pointing out some of the outstanding architectural features that impressed them. But, these things impressed Jesus MUCH LESS than the disciples. He was constrained to comment with reference to the future of these things. Two verses up the page, Matthew quoted Jesus at the end of that scathing speech as telling the Jews, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate", i.e. an empty broken-down-shack. The point was that God's presence was leaving the temple. That was in empty contrast to the impressed demeanor the disciples exhibited as they were leaving the temple this final time. Thus, Jesus needed to deflate their ego a little. And, this Jesus did in v.2, "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, THERE SHALL NOT BE LEFT HERE one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." That's another way of saying the temple was going to be completely demolished. Now surely you can imagine how that must have hit those Galilean apostles. What's the first question you would ask? When Lord? How's this going to be? But, they didn't ask Jesus to explain at that moment; they, were probably too stunned to ask. But, later as they crossed the Kedron creek and headed up the mount of Olives; their curiosity got the best of them. So/ in Matt. 24:3, some of the apostles asked Jesus privately; did you get that? What did they ask Jesus? Three questions! Those three questions are in v.3, (#1), "Tell us, when shall these things be?" Lord, when will it happen? (#2), Lord, "what shall be the sign of thy coming?" Did you notice, they just ASSUMED that this was going to be at Jesus' second coming; that final coming that Jesus talked about in Luke ch.17, that terrible night when "two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left." (Luke 17:34). Or in the next verse, when "Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one taken, and the other left." You see, these disciples just assumed this would be the same time. Lord, what'll be the sign of thy coming? Then finally (question # 3), Lord, what'll be the sign, "of the end of the world?" Can't you just see their eye balls studying Jesus as they asked those anxious questions? there on mt. Olivet; perhaps, as they rested a few minutes from climbing that mountain to Bethany [v.3 said "he sat"] and as the sun began to sink close to the western horizon? AND, as they no doubt looked back across the Kedron valley and looked down upon the temple, its walls, porticos, columns, and all its splendor. Lord when?? Have you got their question?
Let's take a look: at what Mark and Luke put on their easel. Mark ch. 13, beginning. Mark uses four verses, to paint for us this setting. Are you ready? Let's read Mark 13:1-4. "And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! [Notice, that is stated as a question, but the KJV has an exclamation mark.] And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be filled?" O.K. what did we learn from Mark that was not covered in Matthew? The most interesting thing is perhaps that Matthew said the disciples came to Jesus on the mount of Olives and ask Jesus privately the three question, we covered. But, Mark tells who the disciples were, Peter, James, John and Andrew, (what we might call the inner circle four). Three of these were the same three disciples that went upon Mt. Hermon with Jesus at the time of the transfiguration, you'll remember; except this time, Andrew was with them on Mt. Olivet. The questions are a little different. Matthew broke their inquiry into three questions; whereas, Mark gave two questions in v.4, "When shall these things be?", i.e. when would the stones be thrown down? And, number two, "what shall be the sign when these things shall be fulfilled?", i.e. how could they identify the time, when this would happen? Now, you need to realize this is the same question; just phrased a little different.
Now, let's go to Luke! Luke's account is found in ch. 21, beginning in v.5, following the widow's offering. Are you ready? Luke 21:5, three verses, down through v.7, let's read. "And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?" O.K. pretty much the same as Matthew and Mark. Notice in v.6, that Jesus said, "the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another." In Matthew and Mark, Jesus was quoted as saying, "there shall not he left here one stone upon another..." But, Luke gave this more specific in that he said, "the days will come...", i.e. there was going to be a time, BEFORE THE JUDGMENT, when the temple complex would be totally destroy. Luke, like Mark paraphrase their questions into two main questions, (#1) "When shall these things be?", i.e. when will the temple be destroyed and (41=2), "What shall be the sign when these things shall be fulfilled", i.e. how to recognize the time.
O.K., if you've got these questions committed to memory and the picture of five people sitting on Mt. Olivet, as the four apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John ask these questions to Jesus; you've got the setting. But, let's touch on another thing or two that will help us rightly divide Jesus' answer and pin-point his references. There are some key words and phrases in these verses that we've covered that you want to LOOK OUT FOR. One phrase you need to look for is, "these things." Now, that's not a very specific reference and yet, that phrase occurs several times during Jesus’ speech. So, I suggest you take a pencil and paper, right now, write down the words "THESE THINGS" in great big print and capitalize it in your mind. Flip back to Matthew's account, in v.2, Jesus said: "See ye not all THESE THINGS?" Now, what were THESE THINGS? That big white limestone temple and all the tremendous stones they were looking at. Now, look at the disciples' questions in Matt. 24:3. They wanted to know, "When shall THESE THINGS be?" So, in their question, that phrase: THESE THINGS, included WHAT WOULD HAPPEN to those amazing large stones and the temple structure. Now, flip over to Mark ch. 13. In v.4, their first question was (as recorded by Mark): "When shall THESE THINGS be?" The second question was: "What shall be the sign when all THESE THINGS shall be fulfilled?" Well, we won't take the time to turn to Luke; but, Luke also uses that phrase three times, in the three verses we read. Now, I don't want to string this out; but, as vague as THESE THINGS may be, THESE THINGS describe in this context a definite concept. So, get that concept indelibly stamped in your mind. It's such a vague reference that, after reading a few verses, if you are not very careful; you'll let that vague reference take on a different meaning. When you do, you've strayed from the context. So, let's don't let it happen, O.K.? Then, the next point you need to see comes with the next verse in all three readings. Matt. 23:4 Jesus began to speak. The first thing that Jesus said was: "Take heed that no man deceive you." What does that mean? That was a warning! That's like saying, BE CAREFUL, NOW! You see, they didn't understand what they were asking well enough to ask a good sound question. They assumed Jesus was talking about the end of the world. So, Jesus warned them not to misunderstand this. In Mark 13:5, Jesus said, "Take heed lest any man deceive you..." Luke quoted Jesus like this, "Take heed that ye be not deceived..." O.K. do you get the idea? Jesus threw up a red flag. It's not quite like you are implying, you see.
Alright, we're about out of time. So, let's wait until our next lesson to get into Jesus' answer. But, in the minute or two we have left; let's touch on a little history, THAT you need to know. About 37 years after Jesus died on the cross, the Jews picked a fight with Rome. That's the way I read it. A sect of the Jews called the Zealots, a quasi political element, encouraged the Jewish nation to wage a war with Rome seeking independence. Their rationale went something like this: The Jews are God's chose people. Therefore, God will protect the Jews. So, if the Jews will stand up against the Romans, they can't do anything but win; because, God is with them. Thus, as I said, they picked a fight with Rome, the great world power at that time. The war started about AD. 66 or 67; but, the Romans didn't really take it too serious for a year or two. They thought things would eventually settle down, so they didn't come over and thump the Jews with all the force they could have right away. This in turn; gave many of the Jews confidence that the Romans might back down. But, to make a long story short, the Romans finally came and squashed the city, temple and all else in the fall of AD 70. The first tactic was to place a garrison around the city, and slowly starved the Jews inside the walls of Jerusalem to death. Josephus even tells about a woman that killed her own baby and ate it. Horrible, stories! After, the Romans went in and burned the city, they plowed it like a field. General Titus really planned to save the temple structure; but, some of the soldiers thought gold was hid there, according to rumors. So, they turned over every stone and there wasn't left one stone upon another; as, Jesus had prophesied. Thus, Jesus really had reference to the war of AD 70 in his remark. But, YOU CAN SEE that the disciples were not thinking in such terms when they asked these questions. They were trying to associate Jesus' words with the end of the world. However, Jesus answered their question, AS THEY ASKED IT. We'll get into that in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.