August 15

Text: Matthew 24:1, 2

And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.  And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down."  (NASB)

During the last week of Jesus’ physical life he spent a lot of time in the temple area.  The disciples were with Jesus, but they did not figure prominently in the events Matthew recorded.  These were fast paced, hectic, demanding days.  (1) Remember that major activities were confined to daylight—our artificial lighting did not exist.  (2) Remember Jesus knew this was the end, but the 12 likely thought it was the beginning.  Jesus knew the end of his physical life was near, but the 12 likely thought the beginning of his physical rule was near (contrast the disciples’ mindset in John 11:1-16 with the events in Jerusalem).  (3) It is quite possible that these men were impressed with Jesus’ popularity and seeming invincibility in Jerusalem.  (4) It is also quite possible that the 12 had limited accessibility to Jesus much of that week.  His time with them seemed to be restricted to his last day.

The 12 were astounded by the later construction stages of the temple area.  Reconstruction had been occurring for about 50 years.  As it neared completion, the 12 were amazed by the massive stones (that we would measure in tons) and the striking beauty.  In our words, the overwhelmed 12 said to Jesus, “Can you believe that?”  They were impressed!

Then Jesus said something so incredible it was a “when” moment for the 12.  Jesus said all they saw would be destroyed—not even one stone would be on another.  Unthinkable!  The building process was mind-boggling!  Total destruction was unthinkable!  How could God allow such to happen?

With that simple introduction began one of the most complex, mystifying conversations Jesus had with the 12.  Since early Christianity, people have tried to understand Matthew 24.  They have offered THE key insight to this conversation.  Yet, no one has succeeded in answering all relevant questions.  I surely cannot!  Nor will I try!  My objective is simple: to challenge us with the understandable.

As the 12 were amazed, Jesus said, “Things are not as they seem.  Things that seem incredibly permanent are absolutely temporary.  These impressive buildings are temporary.”

Suggestion for reflection: How do you distinguish the temporary from the permanent?  (Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19.)

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