I’ve never really slowed down enough while reading this passage to soak in all the details and implications of what it says will happen before and after Jesus returns. This is some crazy stuff.
- V29 – Whoa. Here’s what the ESV notes have to say about this: “It is possible that this is entirely literal language (with “stars” perhaps referring to a large meteor shower). Others take it as a mixture of literal and figurative language, and still others take it as entirely figurative, pointing to political judgment on nations and governments. The argument in favor of a figurative interpretation is that this verse echoes possibly figurative language about heavenly disturbances in the OT prophets, such as Isa 13:10, 34:4; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10; and Amos 8:9. Those arguing for a literal interpretation point to biblical accounts of actual darkness: Ex 10:21-23 and Matt 27:45. The idea of the stars falling and the heavens being rolled up is mentioned elsewhere in the NT as well (see Heb. 1:12; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12; Rev. 6:13-14). Whether these events are to be understood as being primarily literal or figurative, it is clear that these will be “earth-shattering” events, through which all creation will be radically transformed at the return of Christ. (Regarding the “new heavens and the new earth,” see Isa 65:27; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1.)
- V30 – At first I didn’t get why everyone would be mourning, because I though that everyone would be excited to see Jesus, but the ESV note cleared up my confusion. Their mourning would be “Either a sorrow that produces repentance, or a great sadness of regret in light of the coming judgment.”
◊ Will I regret my current actions and decisions when Jesus returns Do I mourn for my sins?
- V31 – This is mind-boggling and overwhelming to try to think about and understand. I wonder what the disciples thought of all this.
- V34 – This is tricky. I’m going to stick to the ESV note on this one. “Several interpretations have been offered for this difficult passage: (1) Some think “this generation” refers to the disciples who were alive when Jesus was speaking, and “all these things” refers to the beginning but not the completion of the sufferings described in vv.4-25. (2) Others see in “all these things” a prediction with multiple fulfillments, so that Jesus’ disciples will be both “this generation” that sees the destruction of the temple in AD 70 and also those at the end of the age who see the events surrounding the “abomination of desolation” (v15). (3) Since “the generation of…” in the OT can mean people who have a certain quality (cf. PS14:5; 24:6; cf. Gk. genea in Luke 16:8), others understand “this generation” to refer either (a) to “this generation of believers” throughout the entire present age, or (b) to “this evil generation” that will remain until Christ returns to establish his kingdom (Matt. 12:45; Luke 11:29). (4) Others, particularly some dispensational interpreters, understand “generation” to mean “race” (this is another sense of Gk. genea) and think it refers to the Jewish people, who will not pass away until Christ returns. (5) Others understand “this generation” to mean the generation that sees “all these things”, namely, the generation alive when the final period of great tribulation begins. According to this view, the illustration of the fig tree show that when the final events begin, Christ will come soon…”
◊ Why would Jesus use such vague language? Because He wants us to be ready at all times! He wants all of us to think we’re “the generation.” The disciples had an urgency about the way they spread the gospel. We should too!
- V35 – This world is not going to be forever. Only God is eternal so when this universe “passes away” God and His Word (John 1:1) will remain.
- V36 – I think it’s really interesting that Jesus and His Father God have a relational dynamic where, even though they are one, Jesus submits to His Father’s will and doesn’t even always know all the details of His Father’s plan. As a wife who is commanded to submit to my husband, this helps me understand what that word (that has such ugly connotations) really means.
◊ Do I submit to the authority in my life willingly and obediently like Jesus submits to His Father?
- V37-39 – In Noah’s time the people chose to ignore the crazy old guy building a boat in the desert and the mysterious animal activity in the area. That’s why they were surprised by the flood. It will be the same during the end times. Jesus just listed several things to watch out for, so yes, people will go about their business until the last minute – not because there will be no warnings, but because they will choose to ignore them.
◊ Am I choosing to ignore something I sense God is trying to tell me?
- V40-41 – The order of the end times has always been a little dicey for me. I thought in v21-31 it seemed pretty clear “the elect” would be taken at the end of the tribulation, but this seems like it could be before. I don’t think it really matters and the take-home should be v42-44.
◊ Am I “awake” or am I on spiritual auto-pilot? Am I confident that I am doing the work of God to the best of my ability?
- V45-46 – We’re all servants and God has given each of us a responsibility to manage.
◊ What has God given me to manage? (This could be other people, things, and/or my own talents and abilities.) Am I managing my “household” well?
- V45 – “…to give the other servants their allowance of food at the proper time.” – I think it’s very interesting that Jesus stuck this little phrase in here. He talks so much about feeding the hungry and also compares God’s Word (and Himself!) to bread. Hmmm…
- V47 – Being faithful with our earthly responsibilities will earn us heavenly responsibilities.
◊ V48-49 – How could I (or do I) mis-manage my responsibilities? Am I suing my responsibilities/household for my own gain or to advance the kingdom of God?
- V50-51 – Pretending to be a servant of God while acting in an ungodly way (hypocrites) will get you nowhere but hell. Being eternally separated from God and His light and love will be very, very sad.
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?