Matthew 14-28

Matthew 14-28…Christ Will Return

The Father alone knows the time of Jesus’ return; thus, His people must always be ready for the end. Using illustrations and parables, our Savior begins to explain how to be prepared for His coming in the second half of Matthew.

The first few analogies tell us the second advent of Christ could occur at any moment. Signs may indicate the nearness of Jerusalem’s ruin (24:1–35), but there will be no way to know whether His final return is around the corner. Everyday life — eating, drinking, marrying — will go on until He comes (24:37–39). No remarkable difference in the basic, life-sustaining ways of humanity will herald His return; in fact, the lack of change will make many believe He is not coming back (2 Peter 3:4). We will be unable to discern the last moments before final judgment from the day people cease to form families or find a way to survive without consuming calories, for this day will never come. Mankind will do the most common tasks up until the end (Matthew 24:40–42).

Verses 40–44 stress the suddenness of Christ’s return. The taking of men and women from their tasks (vv. 40–42) is not a picture of a pretribulational rapture. Instead, Jesus is saying that the separation of the wicked and the righteous will be immediate. It is as if we will look up from our labor one seemingly ordinary day and find ourselves at the consummation of all things. Just as a thief might suddenly break in without warning, so too will our Lord return at a moment when we are not expecting Him (vv. 43–44). These illustrations encourage us not only to be ready for the Savior’s final advent, but also to be prepared to meet Him at any point should we die before He comes. Matthew Henry comments, “We cannot know that we have a long time to live; nor can we know how little a time we have to live, for it may prove less than we expect.” Putting off repentance and faith can lead to eternal damnation.

Therefore, we must be ready for Jesus’ return. Readiness, however, is not passive; rather, we are to serve our king actively, knowing that He could come at any minute. May we be wise, faithful servants who work for the kingdom, not those who lie down on the job and are fit only for destruction (vv. 45–51).

Matthew 1-13

Matthew 1-13…Fulfillment of the Law in Christ

Patience is a virtue, it is said, probably because waiting is so difficult. Young children find themselves having to endure an almost unbearably long stretch of school days before the freedom of summer. Engaged couples spend what seems like ages waiting for their wedding day even though the ceremony may be only a few months away.

After the fall of man, God turned us over to the consequences of our sin. Strenuous labor, pain in childbirth, broken relationships, and finally death would be our lot. Yet our gracious Lord spoke good news as well. His curse would not last forever, one day the seed of the woman, a people holy unto the Lord, would crush the serpent and his seed. Thus began our long wait for Satan’s defeat.

Our Father did not start over from scratch to keep this promise but chose some out of fallen humanity to be His own. Abraham and his seed would be the family through which God would bless the world (12:1–3). For centuries Abraham’s offspring waited for the great blessing they would share with the world. Yet though there were times when the patriarch’s seed blessed the earth, most of the nation of Israel failed to be salt and light to the world; thus, the Lord kicked them out of the Promised Land.

But God also promised an even greater blessing would come if His exiled people repented. The covenant community would go back to their land and a holy son of David would rule the world when they turned to Yahweh. Israel did return to Palestine, but national repentance did not follow, and the Jews lived as a shadow of their former selves, under the heel of one empire after another.

However, the faithful remnant in Israel continued to trust God for His blessing. Four hundred years or so after the voice of prophecy fell silent in Israel, the Father sent Jesus His Son to fulfill His promises (Matt. 5:17). The Gospel of this Jesus, according to Matthew, will occupy our study for the next week or so.