After Jesus explained the sign of His coming, ending the present evil age in Matthew 24:30-31, He proceeded to give a pictorial lesson using the fig tree and its budding leaves signifying summer as an instructive comparison that these final events of the world are a direct indication that Christ is very near: that the Parousia is imminent. While the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple seemed to spell the definitive end of the Jewish people, they would not be completely annihilated. And there will be a believing remnant of Jews and Gentiles that endures the great tribulation and then mercifully sees their Lord appear. The entire universe will be obliterated by God, but Jesus’ words stand forever because His words have the authority and validity of God’s words … because Jesus is God. Only the Father knows exactly when that day of the Lord will come, which Jesus declared, to further draw focus upon His human nature but not to deny His deity. In His earthly ministry, the Son was completely submitted to the Father’s will, with believers marveling at the mystery of how the Son could restrict the use of His divine attributes.
Beginning in 24:37, Jesus then compared the suddenness of the coming of the Son of Man to the days of Noah. Just as Noah’s unbelieving contemporaries were unprepared for the global flood of God’s judgment, the world will be unprepared for the conclusion of human history. As people are engaged in the ordinary affairs of life, the suddenness of the Lord’s return will separate believers from the unbelievers, with the saints of God taken and preserved, while the majority of the world remains to face the fiery wrath of God’s judgment. God’s people, therefore, are exhorted to stay awake, to live a sanctified life in conscious awareness of their Lord’s coming. Jesus compared this type of needed readiness to a householder who has advance warning of a thief’s plans to rob his house. Just as that householder would do everything in his power to be on guard for such an event, so too must we be prepared in heart and mind for the return of Christ.
Jesus concluded chapter 24 with the first of 3 consecutive parables: the faithful/sensible servant compared to the unfaithful/wicked servant. The one who is conducting himself in holy, sensible kingdom service will be lauded with praise by God. Fidelity to the King will be rewarded! But the one who is living life as if the Lord has been delayed or will never return and who then begins to act in a contemptuous, cruel, and carousing way will be caught off guard by the Lord’s return. Since he has betrayed the Master’s trust and abused His entrusted power, such a hypocrite will be cut in 2, the soul violently separated from the body. Infidelity to the King will be punished! The faithful are blessed with everlasting life, but the unfaithful are cursed with eternal torment. Before depicting the final judgment scene at the conclusion of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus will present 2 additional parables in chapter 25 that speak to proper conduct and true readiness by God’s people.
Listen to last week’s teaching on Matthew 24:32-51 below.