Monday, May 12, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 27)

Redundancy is necessary to break through the clutter of so much ridiculous, textually irrelevant, and ultimately unhelpful “end times” speculation that has grown up around these Matthean, Markan, and Lukan passages.  In Jesus’ discourse on the fall of the Temple (as He answers His disciples’ question in regards to His statement about the stones of the Temple being cast to the ground), “He,” of course, is the Son of Man, and He is right at the door, ready to go before the Ancient of Days to receive His kingdom. 

When will this appearing before the Ancient of Days and the reception of a kingdom take place, or when will all know for sure that this appearance and reception has taken place?  When the Temple falls.  That is still the context.  Even though this will happen, and even though most of Jesus’ primary audience would consider the fall of the Temple to be a horrific and cataclysmic event equivalent to the sun, moon, and stars falling from the sky and the world being rocked from its foundations, signaling the Creator God’s judgment upon Israel, it is actually to be understood as the time in which the Creator God renders His judgment against those that do battle against His people, establishing His kingdom reign through the Son of Man.  So in effect Jesus here delivers a message of hopefulness.  Helpfully, Luke again renders Jesus’ words with slight differences, there reporting Him as saying “So also you, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (21:31).  This statement about the kingdom of God, considering the overt Daniel seven context, is unmistakably clear in its message.     

Though Matthew and Mark have been nearly identical from their report of words concerning the gathering of the elect, to the mention of the fig tree, and on to the Son of Man being near and at the door, with Luke diverging slightly from that Matthean and Markan renderings, the three synoptic evangelists all go on to agree, word for word, with what Jesus has to say next.  Matthew reports: “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (24:34).  This type of congruence, considering the regularity of differences that are encountered, especially when comparing Matthew and Mark to Luke, should arrest attention.  Clearly, much rested on these words, as well as those that would immediately follow, which will be observed momentarily. 

What is one to make of these words?  How would they have been heard?  How should they be heard?  Well, in all honesty, this is all rather uncomplicated.  All that has to be done to grasp the meaning of these words of Jesus with one hundred percent confidence is to reach back to what has premised all that Jesus is saying throughout this lengthy discourse which was set in motion by His triumphal entry, subsequent actions in the Temple, and all that took place in the Temple prior to His explicit leaving of the Temple.  Doing so, one once again hears Matthew reporting that “as Jesus was going out of the Temple courts and walking away, His disciples came to show Him the Temple buildings” (24:1).  Jesus says “Do you see all these things?  I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another.  All will be torn down!” (24:2)  This, as is quite obvious, is what prompted the disciples to say “Tell us, when will these things happen?” (24:3b) 

Now, as He has progressed through His answer, Jesus finally informs them that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”  This is quite specific.  Jesus has said “the Temple will be torn down.”  The disciples have asked “when?”  Jesus effectively says, “Pretty soon.  In fact, this generation will see it.”  If one is willing to put the blinders to pre-conceptions, turn a deaf ear to so many fanciful interpretations that have attempted to hold sway through the years, and inhabit the narrative in order to hear Jesus speak, what one finds is that this is about as straightforward of an answer as Jesus ever gives when a question has been on offer to Him.  Frankly, there’s very little mystery here.  In addition to that, the eyes and ears are drawn to the “these things” of the first and third verses of the twenty-fourth chapter, and the “these things” of the thirty-fourth verse of the chapter.  The repetition provides a clue as to the explicit connection between the verses as part of this revealing and informative answer on the part of Jesus. 

No comments:

Post a Comment