What About the Future? - Matthew 24:1-25:46

1.      What region of Israel were most, if not all, of Jesus’ disciples from? (Galilee.)

Read Matthew 24:1-2

2.      The indication is that the disciples were impressed with the buildings. Why might that be the case? (They were just as much in awe as we are when we leave our rural communities and go to the big city and look in awe at the massiveness of the buildings.)

Matthew 24 and 25 records another discourse Jesus used to teach His disciples. Recall, He is in the final week before His death and yet He has much to teach them. This is Tuesday and some scholars have called this “Teaching Tuesday”, because of the vast amount of teaching that seems to have occurred on this day.

The disciples were shocked, and perhaps a little confused, at what Jesus had to say about what was instore for the Temple complex in the future. “Not one stone would be left on top of another.” We know that this prophecy came true in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple completely demolished!

 

Jesus’ disciples were eager to know about future events concerning Jesus’ reign as king. Jesus had plenty He needed to teach them before the time came for Him to depart this world. In Matthew 24:3-35 Jesus taught about the signs of the end of the age, persecution that was to come, the great tribulation and the coming of the Son of Man. In our focal passage we will learn about the day and hour.

 

Be reminded! Read Matthew 24:36-41

 

1.      Just in your lifetime, how many different charlatans have claimed to know the day Jesus would return? (I can think of three personally, but I’m sure there were others.)

2.      Who knows the day of the Lord’s return and the end of time, as we know it?

3.      What did the revelation that only the Father knows the day and the hour Jesus will return teach us about Jesus?(While Jesus was fully God and fully human while here on the earth, Philippians 2:6-7 reveals to us “[He], existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity.” He willingly limited Himself from using His divine nature while here on earth.)

4.      How was the flood in Noah’s day similar to the return of Christ?

Noah was in preparation for the flood for over 100 years. He was building the Ark and yet it had never rained. In spite of the urging to repent and the evidence of Noah’s faith, the people refused to repent of their wickedness.

5.      What were the people doing during this 100 years Noah was warning them? (Carrying on with life as usual with no regard what so ever of the impending judgment that was to come.)

6.      How do many people respond today when urged to accept Christ before it is too late?

7.      How do you picture the people’s response the day the rains began?

8.      According to verses 40-41 what will happen on the Day of Judgment? (There are two ways to look at this passage. Since it comes immediately after the comparison of the great flood, many scholars believe the one left is the saved and the other swept away as in flood waters. Some have seen it as the rapture and the one taken is the saved one. Either way you must be prepared!)

9.      Why might it be important to be reminded of Jesus’ promised return?

10.  How should Jesus’ assurance about His return impact our actions?

11.  How can we be ready for Jesus’ return if we don’t know when it will happen? (We accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and then live each day as if He would return that day!)

12.  How can we help others to be ready for His return? (By reminding others in a loving way, that putting off the decision to trust Jesus is dangerous, because we do not know when He’s coming back. We can encourage each other to be ready for Christ’s return by regularly gathering for prayer, Bible study, worship, and service.)

Just as the flood during Noah’s time, the second coming of Jesus will be sudden, swift, and unexpected.

 

Be Alert! Read Matthew 24:42-44

 

1.      What might cause someone to fail to stay alert concerning a possible upcoming event? (Uncertainty that it was really going to occur; weariness of waiting; no one else thinks it’s going to happen; etc.)

2.      Have any of you ever had your home burglarized?

3.      What would you have done differently if you had known that it was going to happen?

Unlike the person whose home was burglarized, we know that Jesus is coming! The hour will be a surprise, so we must expect the unexpected! Jesus’ return is also compared to a “thief” coming when we least expect it in 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; and Rev. 3:3; and 16:15.

4.      What characteristics describe a person who is living in anticipation of Jesus’ return? (As the old song says, “looking toward the eastern sky. Will the sound of a trumpet be the next sound that I hear?” “What a Beautiful Day.”)

5.      What would you do differently if you knew the Lord was returning today?

Jesus continues His teachings along this line in Matthew 25. Jesus taught this same truth using the parable of the 10 virgins and the parable of the talents. Both of these parables illustrate the importance of being ready when the Lord returns!

 

Be Faithful! Read Matthew 24:45-47

 

1.      What does the faithful slave reveal that we should be doing while we await the return of Jesus? (Keep busy at the tasks the Master has given us. Live each day ready for the Master’s return.)

2.      What is the motivation of this servant, love or fear? (We do not serve God in order to gain possessions, but out of love for our Lord. Our reward is fulfilled when He says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”)

3.      What characterizes the way a person tries to serve Christ if he or she is not motivated by love?

The faithful servant’s reward here is greater responsibility, just as it was with Joseph in Genesis! We demonstrate our love for Jesus when we stay focused on doing His work here on earth.

 

Be Warned! Read Matthew 24:48-51

 

1.      What does verse 48 indicate about the servant’s heart? (This verse points out that his actions were much more than an oversight or a mistake. This man also erred by his failure to be alert to his master’s return, even though he knew it would happen one day.)

2.      What does the “wicked servant” reveal about the fate of those who reject Jesus? (1-The death penalty; 2-placed with the hypocrites; 3-condemned to a place of eternal punishment where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”)

3.      What does this parable reveal about different attitudes people may have about Jesus’ return?

4.      How are these attitudes seen or expressed today?

5.      How would you respond to someone who asks how a loving God could send someone to hell? (God does not send people to hell. He has given all people free will, if we reject Him, hell is our choice and the punishment we deserve.)

6.      How is postponing a decision to accept Jesus the same as rejecting Jesus? (Since we do not know when Jesus will return, those who postpone the decision to accept Jesus are unprepared for His return. The moment Jesus returns, their delay becomes a rejection.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Today we have been reminded and warned to be alert and to be faithful!

 

1.      What should we be doing daily to be prepared for Jesus’ return?

·         We stay ready for Jesus’ return when we prioritize our relationship with Him. We commit to regular Bible study, prayer, and worship, so that we continue growing in our faith.

·         We stay ready for Jesus’ return through ministry and service for God’s kingdom.

2.      How can we help those we meet be ready too?

·         We need to be bold in sharing the gospel message with all we meet. Don’t fear rejection or ridicule; just plant the seeds of the gospel message.

 

Ask yourself whether you’re ready for Christ’s return if it were to happen today. If not, what steps should you take to prepare yourself?

Are there family members and friends who need to hear about your faith?

Will you make the first move in sharing the gospel with them?

 

Remember, we are not to speculate about Christ’s return, just be ready. We are not on the “Time and Place Committee! We’re on the “Preparation Committee”!

 

Prayer.