Matthew 24:1
After dooming the temple to desolation, "Jesus went out." The action was significant (see Luke 19:44). In every case the departure of the Saviour is a solemn event. "His disciples," viz. Peter, James, John, and Andrew (see Mark 13:3), called his attention to the magnificence of the structure. Men are naturally influenced by material glories. They had especially noticed the greatness of the stones (see Mark 13:1), and were astonished when Jesus declared that these should become disjointed and overthrown. How "slow of heart" are even good men "to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (see Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18)! What havoc in the material world is wrought through moral obliquity! "And as they sat" in full view of the temple and city (ver. 3), where the Shechinah had rested after leaving the temple and the city, and whence it ascended into the heavens - awful presage of the desolation of the temple and city by Nebuchadnezzar, and the captivity of the people by the Babylonians (Ezekiel 11:23): - the action of Jesus here therefore was not only the expression of a tender, sorrowful, patriotic, human sympathy, but moreover a parable and a prophecy of momentous import.

I. CHRIST WAS COMING IN HIS KINGDOM.

1. The advent of the King Messiah was the constant subject of ancient promise.

2. It was accordingly the chief expectation of the Jews.

3. But so dazzled were they with the splendour of the imagery, in which the coming of Messiah in his glory is set forth in prophecy, that they overlooked the predictions setting forth an earlier advent of Messiah in humiliation.

4. Hence, when Jesus came in that earlier advent his people were offended in him.

II. HE COMES IN SPIRIT AND POWER.

1. So he came upon the memorable Day of Pentecost. Jesus had been corporeally transiently present with his disciples as their Comforter, and he promised, after his removal from them in that capacity, to come again as their permanent or abiding Comforter in his Divine Spirit (see John 14:15-21).

2. That advent was quickly followed by the "end of the world," or, more properly, the "consummation of the age." The Levitical dispensation ended with the destruction of the temple. For the temple was the very centre of that system. "The temple was destroyed:

(1) Justly; because of the sins of the Jews.

(2) Mercifully; to take away from them the occasion of continuing in Judaism.

(3) Mysteriously; to show that the ancient sacrifices were abolished, and that the whole Jewish economy was brought to an end, and the Christian dispensation introduced" (Clarke).

3. The judgment in the destruction of Jerusalem was a figure of the judgment of the great day. The scattered Jew-Christians found relief in the judgment which brought desolation to their persecutors (cf. Mark 13:13; James 5:7-9).

III. HE WILL YET COME VISIBLY, IN POWER AND GLORY.

1. He will then come "in the clouds."

(1) He will come upon a glorious throne.

(2) He will come with a myriad retinue. Clouds of angels. Clouds of spirits of just men made perfect (see Hebrews 12:1).

2. He will come to introduce the millennium.

(1) He will begin that reign with judgments upon the obstinately wicked. The antichristian nations will be overthrown.

(2) He will end that age with the final judgment upon the dead, small and great.

IV. HE COMES IN THE ARTICLE OF DEATH.

1. This is the "end of the age" to us as the term of our probation.

2. It is to us virtually the day of judgment.

3. Christ comes in person to receive to himself his own (see John 14:3).

4. Let us be admonished and prepare. - J.A.M.







And Jesus went out and departed from the temple.
In this chapter the accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the "end" of the world are so interwoven, that it is not easy to distinguish between them. Many people have been puzzled because they could not draw the line of demarcation arbitrarily, and say where the division was. But the best way of looking at the passage is to regard it as not confused — as one narrative, not two. The destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world are here considered as one event. We who live in the present dispensation are they "upon whom the ends of the world are come." The narrative is of one thing in two parts; one tale told in two chapters; one drama in two acts. This is why it looks like two accounts. And it is not difficult to see this. It may be felt to be the duty of a parent, who has an unruly, incorrigible child, to administer corporal chastisement, but he would not strike more than one blow at a time. Between each stroke there is an interval, and the parent may, after having begun, suspend the punishment; and then, when the waiting time is over, and the necessity of punishment still continuing, he may finish what had already been begun. The act of punishment is one, though distributed over two periods of time. So with God's 'judgments related in this chapter. The destruction of Jerusalem was not merely a prelude to the day of judgment, nor merely a type of it, as is commonly supposed, but it was a part of it. The day of judgment, which is to come upon the whole world, began with the destruction of Jerusalem; and God having struck one blow in one place, is now waiting, with sword still uplifted, to strike again and finish His work. The corresponding account in Luke tells us that God is waiting "until the times of the Gentiles be come in." The Jew was first in grace; he is likewise first in judgment. But the turn of the Gentiles is coming on. Judgment has begun at the House of God, but it stays not there. The awful drama of the end of the world has two acts, and the time in which we are living is due to a suspension of the judgment already begun.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

I. AN INSTRUCTIVE QUESTION — "See ye not all these things?" — these goodly stones, this stately fabric, this masterpiece of architecture. The question was meant as a reproof;

1. That they so much admired it. As if He had said, "Turn your eyes from hence, and see things of a superior nature; the beauty and excellence of the renewed soul; the gospel Church; the house which is eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God.

2. That which they admired, they imagined He must admire also. But what are earthly temples to Him who meted out the heavens with a span, who Himself dwells in unapproachable light, and before whom the seraphim cover their feet and veil their faces?

II. A SOLEMN DECLARATION — "Verily, I say unto you," etc. By this Christ may have intended to instruct His disciples —

1. That though God may bear long, yet He will not bear always, with a sinful and provoking people.

2. That the most stately structures and the most splendid edifices, through the pride of their inhabitants, shall one day fall in ruins. Only God's spiritual temple will not be burnt up, nor any of the materials of it destroyed.

3. That the time was coming when God would no longer prefer one place of worship to another.

4. That the whole frame of the Jewish economy should shortly be dissolved. The substance being come, the shadows are fled.

(B. Beddome, A. M.)

There was no outward sign of any such disaster. The indications were all against that prediction. The sunlight which, that day, glorified the -towers of Jerusalem was of the common kind, only, it may be, brighter than ever. There was nothing unusual in the sight which met the eyes of the disciples. They beheld the tide of traffic ebbing and flowing along its noisy streets in the ordinary way. They knew that in the temple the priests stood ministering, just as they had done for years. Therefore Christ's words, His mournful prophecy, His pitying lament and tears must have seemed to them strange and uncalled for. And yet, although what He saw was so different from what met their vision, though He beheld desolation where they discerned nought save splendour, that difference was but the result of less than half a century's change. In the crowds then pressing along that city's prosperous courts, there were some who did not taste of death, till they drank the cup of a worse bitterness in the day when Christ's word was all fulfilled.

(E. E. Johnson, M. A.)

And now there rises the question: Why did not Jesus save that city? The awful peril which He saw impending in the near future was destined to involve not the guilty alone, but the innocent as well; why then did not the Son of God avert the coming tribulation He so bitterly lamented? Why did He not do it at least for the sake of those who had shown themselves friendly to Him, the humble ones who followed Him with a sort of dumb faithfulness until the hostility of the government, which frightened the apostles, filled them also with paralyzing fear? There is no doubt that Christ was able to dispel that storm rising so black and terrible. The twelve legions of angels who were ready to save Him from capture, would, at His word, have saved Jerusalem. The myriads of the army of heaven could have turned to a retreating flight the advancing eagles of the heathen conqueror The destruction of Jerusalem belongs to the workings of that natural law in which there is, after a time, no place and no use for repentance, under which God, for some inscrutable reason, permits the innocent to suffer along with the guilty, and where no regret on the part of any one can save him from the doom of reaping precisely what the community has sown. Christ offered to the Jewish nation, as a nation, deliverance from temporal evil. There is no doubt of that. He stood ready to fulfil for them all the glorious things spoken of Zion by the prophets. Both spiritual and earthly peace lay within their reach. It was bound up in the kingdom preached and offered by Him. He promised to take them out from the realm of natural government, where fixed laws work on regardless of the cry of pain and the supplication for pity, where nothing miraculous ever interposes to avert the gathered lightning of moral retribution, where the storm of judgment breaks over the community that deserves it, even though some who are comparatively righteous must endure thereby what seems temporal wrong. He offered, I say, to redeem that Jewish world from the natural law of sin and death and inflexible justice, and lift it into the higher, supernatural realm of grace and life. But that redemption depended upon their knowing and receiving Him. And their selfishness and pride prevented them from recognizing Him. Their King and Redeemer came, but they cast Him out. They chose to be a law unto themselves. Hence that former law must have its perfect work. The hand outstretched to save the nation drifting to ruin was not grasped, and therefore that nation must whirl on and on, down the rapids and over the brink. The destruction of Jerusalem became simply a question of time. Inward corruption would sooner or later have accomplished what we are wont to regard as solely the result of external force. The fig-tree had ceased to bear fruit; and that fact was of itself a sign of the death which had already begun to work. All that was left of the glorious opportunity was the bitter consciousness that it was past Under the working of this law, the drunkard comes at last to a point where repentance is too late, and where death lies both in continued indulgence and in attempted reformation. And so with nations. The day may come to even the strongest, when on the whole it is not worth saving, when, although there are many pure patriots in it, the only thing left for it to do is to die and be blotted out of the map of the world.

(E. E. Johnson, M. A.)

The uncertainty of the day bespeaks our preparedness. When the disciples asked Christ concerning the sign of His coming, He answers them with a how, not with a when. He describes the manner, but conceals the time; such signs shall go before. He does not determine the day when the judgment shall come after. Only He cautions them, with a "Take heed, lest that day come upon you unawares: for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth" (Luke 21:34, 35). The bird little thinks of the snare of the fowler, nor the beast of the hunter; this fearlessly rangeth through the woods, the other merrily cuts the air: both follow their unsuspected liberty, both are lost in unprevented ruin. Against public enemies we fortify our coasts; against private thieves we bar our doors, and shall we not against the irremediable fatality of this day prepare our souls? It is favour enough that the Lord hath given us warning; the day is sudden, the warning is not sudden. The old world had the precaution of six-score years, and that (we cannot deny) was long enough; but we have had the prediction of Christ and His apostles of above fifteen hundred years' standing; besides the daily sounds of those evangelical trumpets, that tell us of that archangelical trumpet in their pulpits. When we hear the thunder, in a dark night on our beds, we fear the lightning. Our Saviour's gospel, premonishing of this day, is like thunder; if it cannot wake us from our sins, the judgment shall come upon us like lightning, to our utter destruction. But I will thank the Lord for giving me warning. The thunder first breaks the cloud, and makes way for the lightning, yet the lightning first invades our sense. All sermons, upon this argument of the last day, are thunder-claps; yet such is the security of the world, that the sons of thunder cannot waken them, till the Father of lightning consume them. The huntsman doth not threaten the deer, or terrify him; but watches him at a stand, and shoots him. But God speaks before He shoots; takes the bow in His hand and shows it us before He puts in the arrow to wound us.

(T. Adams.)

The first reason why the declarations of Christ respecting the near approach of His coming, although they were not realized in their utmost sense, yet involve no error, is this — that it is an essential ingredient in the doctrine of the advent of Christ that it should be considered every moment possible, and that believers should deem it every moment probable. To have taught it so that it should have pointed to an indefinite distance would have robbed it of its ethical significance. The constant expectation of the return of Christ is verified, secondly, by the fact that Christ is constantly coming in His kingdom; it is relatively true that the history of the world is a judgment of the world, without superseding by the judicial activity of God, as already manifesting itself in the history of the development of mankind, the judgment as the concluding act of all developments. And it is here we find the foundation of the principle, that great events in history, wherein either the fulness of the blessing that is in Christ, or His severity against sin, is strikingly manifested, may be viewed as types of the last time — as a coming of Christ. To this category, so far as respects the fulness of blessing revealed by Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit belongs.

(Olshausen.)

I. An illustration of the instability of all earthly grandeur.

II. An instance of God's punishment of sin in the present world.

III. An example of the fulfilment of Scripture prophecy.

IV. A proof of the abolition of the Mosaic economy.

V. A cause of the dispersion of the Jews.

(G. Brooks.)

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