The Coming of the Son of Man
Open Your Bible
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:1-51
The television series Parks and Recreation follows the bureaucratic travails of a plucky city employee played by Amy Poehler. One episode tells the wild tale of the Reasonabilsts, a doomsday cult. They gather in a city park and await the return of their immortal lizard, king Zorp, on the predicted day of his return. He does not return, and the Reasonabilists are left to recalculate Zorp’s reappearance and book the city park for another day.
While played as kooky, the Reasonabilists speak to something inside of us all. We long to see what’s next, to know that what we believe is true—that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. We long to know with certainty that it is true. So we pick our way through Scripture, hoping to find the exact answers to the greatest mystery of our faith. I went to seminary, read a lot of books, took a class on the end times, and still find it completely and totally fascinating. But I have no answers—only a fire of faith that is stoked by mystery and kept alive by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus speaks in Matthew 24, He speaks with authority and hope. His specific audience of disciples and followers would experience many of the things He tells them they will, in and around AD 70 when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed after a siege by Roman forces. This passage reaches backward and forward, to the Old Testament and the new, reminding us that no message of Jesus stands alone. He quotes Isaiah 13 in verse 29, using the prophet’s language to describe the fall of Babylon and the pending fall of Jerusalem. In verse 44, Jesus says, “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect,” and it is echoed in 1 Thessalonians 5 and Revelation 3. Jesus speaks of the past (Babylon), to the present audience (predicting their suffering in Jerusalem), and to the future, promising that His kingdom will triumph in the end.
The hope Jesus communicates in this passage—these incredibly hard and often confusing declarations about suffering on a cosmic scale—is found in verses 13–14. Jesus predicts that many will leave the faith but those who remain will be saved. And then, “this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations.”
The good news will endure because it is true. Jesus would die, Jesus would rise, and we know that Jesus will come again. We don’t know the day or time, but we know our earthly lives will be marked with suffering and sin until He comes. But when He does, His kingdom will flourish, and we will experience no more tears, death, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Written by Melanie Rainer