His Story Includes Our Story: Matthew 24:26-35

Focus Passage: Matthew 24:26-35 (NIV)

 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
     ‘the sun will be darkened,
      and the moon will not give its light;
   the stars will fall from the sky,
      and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

 30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Read Matthew 24:26-35 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Today’s entry focuses on a small part of a much longer teaching of Jesus about the state of the world. This broader teaching is so significant that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include it their gospels. There is a lot we can uncover or focus on, but in today’s entry, we will zero in on a phrase that boggles my mind, and one that could easily be misunderstood.

Near the end of this teaching, Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”(v.34)

This phrase baffles my mind because now, close to 2,000 years later, it has appeared to us living on earth that everyone from that generation, and dozens of later generations since that time, have died. This makes me wonder about what this phrase means, and after thinking about it while studying, I believe there are three possible conclusions I can see being meant here:

  1. The traditional Christian view is that following Jesus’ resurrection, followers of Jesus never die, but rise to be with Jesus in heaven. This is one text that on the surface could support this idea, but when we look a little closer and ask a few questions, applying this idea to that belief does not work well.

    The generation Jesus was talking to was filled with more people who didn’t believe in Jesus than who did, and there were also those who were extremely opposed to Jesus. It doesn’t make sense for Jesus to promise them heaven. However, if we look closely, this text also isn’t promising never-ending life, but a delay of “passing away”, so we must then move to the next possible conclusion.

  2. The next view we could use when looking at this passage is a lot stronger, because it says that this generation won’t pass away because it lives on through the written words collected together and called The Bible. We know more about that generation in history from what was written than really any other time period. There is ample evidence (5,686 Greek New Testament manuscripts) that the generation Jesus was talking about lived, and every time we open the New Testament and read about what happened, they live on.

    What still challenges me about this view is that there were thousands of people in that “generation” who never were recorded about in the Bible. The generation was much larger than what the Bible can record, which prompts us to the third view.

  3. The third view is a matter of perspective, and instead of looking at this phrase from our human perspective, we should imagine looking at it from Jesus’ (or God’s) perspective, and meld it with the following verse: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (v. 35)

    In this view, we are looking at the universe and history outside of the span of time. Jesus says that “this generation” won’t pass away until the things He previously talked about happens, and this passing away will be the same type of passing away that heaven and earth will do when God recreates the universe. Looking at the timeline of history from God’s perspective (outside of that timeline), every generation that has ever lived has not yet “passed away” because they are awaiting the Day of Judgment (or “Last Judgment”), which happens at the end of time. After that last judgment, sin and its history can truly “pass away” along with all the evil deeds of that generation.

I still have questions about this idea, however what all of these ideas tell me is that Jesus holds history (“His Story”) in His hands, and history includes our story!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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