Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Missional Jesus 55

posted by xscot mcknight

Now, how does one talk about Matthew 24 in one day? By keeping it short and to the point. I’ll do my best.
1. Missional Jesus’ warning about Jerusalem’s destruction is just that: it is about 66-73AD and not about some future date. I don’t think this is a false dichotomy; I think it is historical and exegetical reality.
2. Missional Jesus fixes the time and date and it can be found in Matthew 24:29-35. What we find here is that “all of this” — not “some of this” — will occur before this generation passes away. (Which it did, since 66-73 AD saw the fulfillment of all these things.)
3. Missional Jesus uses apocalyptic imagery to describe the downfall of Jerusalem and sees it as the collapse of a nation that proves his messianic message and kingdom offer was for real.
4. Missional Jesus’ offer had historical rootedness — it was God’s way in Jesus’ day.
If you’d like to read more on this, see my book A New Vision for Israel., or Tom Wright’s big Jesus book: Jesus and the Victory of God.
Matt. 24:1 As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Matt. 24:3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
Matt. 24:9 “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Matt. 24:15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), 16 then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17 the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18 the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
and the powers of heaven will be shaken.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matt. 24:32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Matt. 24:36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
Matt. 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51 He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.



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Nathanael

posted September 7, 2007 at 6:28 am


So is Jesus speaking about two separate events here?
Your explanation of the destruction of the temple 66-73AD fits into the statement about that generation seeing these events.
But I’m having trouble reconciling everything else in this portion where Jesus is speaking of His return to earth again with the 66-72AD destruction of the temple.



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Scot McKnight

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:11 am


Nathanael,
I believe in the Second Coming; I have big doubts that this text says anything about it.



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Nathanael

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:32 am


I’m okay with your interpretation up to verses 29-51.
I’m having trouble lining up the rest of the chapter with your explanation of the beginning.
I know this series has been far from exhaustive, and in any of the other posts, people could have picked apart your brief summaries. I’m not trying to do that. I’m just trying to understand.
Do you have another post or book or online article with a deeper explanation of the second half of this chapter?
Shalom



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Scot McKnight

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:42 am


Nathanael,
You might check out some preterist/partial preterism sites. My book is available as is Tom Wright’s; RT France’s commentary is good on this too.



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Nathanael

posted September 7, 2007 at 7:45 am


Thank you, brother.
May God’s peace overwhelm you today.



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Michael Mercer

posted September 7, 2007 at 9:42 am


Scot, one of my problems with a completely preterist view of Matt 24 is that Paul seemed to rely on this “word of the Lord” in telling us about Christ’s return (1Thess 4-5, 2Thess 2).
I agree that Jesus’ prophetic discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) uses the imagery of the Fall of Jerusalem and even specifically points to that event (especially in Luke), but is it not possible that Jesus’ words here are like so many of the prophetic writings in the First Testament which speak of near-term events but in such a way that they also point to even greater events at the end of time?



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Beyond Words

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:39 am


Thanks for drawing attention to this book, Scot. I think neglecting the study of Jesus’ predictions and warnings about the destruction of Jerusalem is one of the most serious deficiencies in modern exegesis. It may seem like a small thing, but small deviations always lead to wide trajectories off course!



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Derek Leman

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:00 am


For an alternative view which does not take the Son of Man returning on the clouds with power as Jesus whomping on those sinful Jews, try D.A. Carson’s excellent commentary on Matthew.
I like Wright (and even McKnight), but this one is frankly insulting and demeaning. I guess even good scholars have their blind spots.
Derek Leman



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Scot McKnight

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:09 am


Derek,
I’m sorry but saying something is “insulting and demeaning” is in fact insulting and demeaning. Do you mean partial preterism is insulting and demeaning? Or that condensing it all into a brief statement of how I see the text is?



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Derek Leman

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:56 am


Scot:
Please don’t take what I say below as if I am angry. I believe good rhetoric is more persuasive than dispassionate words. I have no problem with you, Professor McKnight. I already knew you and I would not agree on the continuing role of Israel. Here is my attempt to put this as persuasively as possible:
I mean that for a Jewish person who believes in Jesus, it is insulting to discover that brothers and sisters in Christ believe the Son of Man coming on the clouds is lingo for Jesus pouring out wrath on the Jewish leaders of his day. According to Josephus’ account, the temple leaders, who were admittedly corrupt, were in the temple still because they believed Messiah was going to rescue them. If only they knew, Messiah wasn’t coming to rescue them, he was standing outside cheering on the Roman butchers.
I don’t intend to whitewash the corruption and even evil of the temple leadership. But I do intend to say, it isn’t like God to treat the faith of anyone with contempt. Even if they were waiting for the wrong Messiah, they were taking a step toward God. D.A. Carson has presented a worthy interpretation of Matthew 24 I suggested others may want to consider.
Derek Leman



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Derek Leman

posted September 7, 2007 at 12:30 pm


Scot:
I won’t belabor my point and drag out a long debate here which will bore your readers. Just to clarify, what I’m troubled by is not the idea that God judges Israel with military judgments (we’re agreed on that). I’m troubled that anyone would think when Jesus speaks of the Son of Man coming on the clouds, that this is about judgment on Israel instead of the Son of Man coming to rescue Israel and the faithful at the Parousia.
My dismay is about something beautiful (in my interpretation) being read as something dreadful (in the preterist view).
Derek Leman



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Mark

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:30 am


Here’s a great sermon, sort of related.

Making a pilgrimage means setting out in a particular direction, travelling towards a destination. This gives a beauty of its own even to the journey and to the effort involved. Among the pilgrims of Jesus’s genealogy there were many who forgot the goal and wanted to make themselves the goal. Again and again, though, the Lord called forth people whose longing for the goal drove them forward, people who directed their whole lives towards it. The awakening of the Christian faith, the dawning of the Church of Jesus Christ was made possible, because there were people in Israel whose hearts were searching – people who did not rest content with custom, but who looked further ahead, in search of something greater: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Mary and Joseph, the Twelve and many others. Because their hearts were expectant, they were able to recognize in Jesus the one whom God had sent, and thus they could become the beginning of his worldwide family. The Church of the Gentiles was made possible, because both in the Mediterranean area and in those parts of Asia to which the messengers of Jesus Christ travelled, there were expectant people who were not satisfied by what everyone around them was doing and thinking, but who were seeking the star which could show them the way towards Truth itself, towards the living God.
We too need an open and restless heart like theirs. This is what pilgrimage is all about. Today as in the past, it is not enough to be more or less like everyone else and to think like everyone else. Our lives have a deeper purpose. We need God, the God who has shown us his face and opened his heart to us: Jesus Christ.



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