Albert N. Martin
Matthew’s Gospel and the 24th chapter begins with our Lord Jesus going out from the temple area in Jerusalem. As He is passing by the temple there is this response of the disciples to what they saw, speaking of the magnificence of the temple, and they show the buildings of the temple to our Lord.
According to verse 2, he replies by saying, “See you not all these things? Verily I say unto you, ‘There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.’” He is speaking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem which took place in history in 70 AD.
As He went out from that area to the Mount of Olives, the disciples, stung by this statement of our Lord, ask Him the question in verse 3, “Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them..” Then in the remainder of the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord is found responding to the questions raised by the disciples, “When will the destruction of the temple occur? And when will this coming and the end of the age occur?” For in their thinking, these things were all intertwined. Therefore, in responding to these questions we have in Matthew 24 certain things said by our Lord which are very clearly a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Other things are very clearly references to His Second Coming at the end of the age. And there are others that commentators—equally devout and godly men—differ as to the precise point of reference: whether our Lord is referring to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem itself, or whether He is referring to the Second Coming.
Our signpost is taken from one of those verses that unmistakably refers not to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but to that other event: the Coming of the Lord Jesus in power and glory at the end of the age. It is found somewhere between verse 29 and the end of the chapter. For those of you that took the time to read and make a stab at what the text might be, if you guessed verse 44 you were correct. “Therefore, be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh.” As we draw near to this signpost we see that it has three basic statements that constitute the very heart of its message.
The first is this: the fact of the Second Coming declared. Look at the latter part of the verse. “The Son of man [literally] is coming.” Not a future, “Shall come,” but a present tense. “The Son of man is coming.” Here the fact of the Second Coming is declared. Notice with me as we draw a little closer to that signpost what is involved in this fact.
First: the identity of the person that is coming. Jesus refers to Him as the Son of man. Who is this Son of man? Well, if you’re familiar with the Gospel records you know that it is the title by which the Lord Jesus most often refers to Himself. If there were no other text to make it very clear that Jesus is speaking of Himself, Mark 8:31 would be such a text. “And He began to teach them, [that is, the Lord Jesus] that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Here He says that the person who will be rejected by the chief priests and the elders, who will suffer many things, be killed, and be raised again is the Son of man. There is no one who fits that description but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
When He comes in the end of the section of Mark 8:38 and says, “The Son of man shall also be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels,” our Lord makes it unmistakably clear that the identity of the person who is coming in this Second Coming is none other than Himself. The same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, reared in Nazareth. It was the same one who pounded pegs and shaved boards in His father’s carpenter shop; was baptized in the river Jordan; who went about the various areas of Palestine doing good, raising the dead, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. It was that Son of man who would go to Jerusalem and suffer, who would be killed, and who was raised again on the third day.
The identity of the person who is coming is unmistakable. “The Son of man comes.” That is, the very Lord Jesus Christ whose life and death and resurrection, whose mighty words and works are recorded in the Gospel records, it is that Jesus and none other that will come again. This is confirmed very clearly in Acts 1 at His ascension, when you will remember the disciples are gathered with Him and our Lord Jesus suddenly begins to levitate in their very presence.
According to Acts chapter 1 we read in verse 9, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were looking steadfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why do ye stand looking into heaven?’ This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.” Not another, not one like Him, but this very Jesus shall come again.
Bible References: Matthew 24:2-3, 44; Mark 8:31, 38; Acts 1:9-11
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