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Going out of order today with the scriptures!
In Matthew 24, shortly before he was crucified. Jesus was asked about the last days. He told his disciples not to worry. He warned them that people will often misinterpret big events (wars, plagues, etc.) as being signs. Finally he says:
Matthew 24:36-44“No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don’t know. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man comes again, it will be exactly like the days of Noah. In the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, and getting married until the day that Noah went into the ship. They were not aware of what was happening until the flood came and swept all of them away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes again.
“At that time two men will be working in the field. One will be taken, and the other one will be left. Two women will be working at a mill. One will be taken, and the other one will be left.
“Therefore, be alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will return. You realize that if a homeowner had known at what time of the night a thief was coming, he would have stayed awake. He would not have let the thief break into his house. Therefore, you, too, must be ready because the Son of Man will return when you least expect him.”
1) This is one of the places people get the idea for the Rapture, where they think Christians will suddenly vanish from wherever they are. Not all Christians believe in such a thing. Can you think of anything else Jesus might have meant?
2) If you believe this passage, what might you say to someone making a prediction about the end of the world?
After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the apostles and the disciples kept on preaching about him. Especially after Pentecost, when they received the Holy Spirit as a helper. Stephen is a great example of this. Some people connect Matthew 24 with how the disciple Stephen died. He was explaining how Jesus fit in with what the prophets had said, but the officials got very angry.
Acts 7:54-60 As council members listened to Stephen, they became noticeably furious. But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked into heaven, saw God’s glory, and Jesus in the position of authority that God gives. So Stephen said, “Look, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man in the position of authority that God has given him!” But the council members shouted and refused to listen. Then they rushed at Stephen with one purpose in mind, and after they had thrown him out of the city, they began to stone him to death. The witnesses left their coats with a young man named Saul. While council members were executing Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, welcome my spirit.” 60Then he knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” After he had said this, he died.
3) Why do you think people connect this with what jesus was talking about in Matthew 24?
4) What else do you notice?
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, but after he was resurrected, Matthew records two interesting points.
Matthew 28:11-20 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city. They told the chief priests everything that had happened. The chief priests gathered together with the leaders and agreed on a plan. They gave the soldiers a large amount of money and told them to say that Jesus’ disciples had come at night and had stolen his body while they were sleeping. They added, “If the governor hears about it, we’ll take care of it, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were told. Their story has been spread among the Jewish people to this day.
The eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they bowed down in worship, though some had doubts. When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”
5) One of the things I wonder is why didn’t everyone believe when Jesus was raised, and this helps me understand. Can you think of anything today where people claim both sides of an issue?
6) People refer to what Jesus asks here as “the Great Commission.” A commission is when someone hires you to do a specific job, or when someone gives you the authority to do a certain job. An artist takes a commission to paint a portrait of someone, for example. Or a military officer receives a commission to be a captain in the army. Was what Jesus asked like one or both of these?
7) How do we make disciples of other people? Of a nation?
8) Are you a disciple? Do you want to be? How do you know?