“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:1–3; EVS).
When reading Jesus sermon about His return, keep these thoughts in mind.
Let’s put ourselves in the disciples place. They didn’t understand that Jesus had to go to the cross, bear our sins, go to the lower parts of the earth, and be raised from the dead. In their minds, the Messiah was to rule in Jerusalem, liberate Israel from gentile oppression, subdue the nations, and reign over the earth. The thought that the temple would be destroyed never occurred to them. Temple worship and the law of Moses was to be part of the reign of Messiah.
When Jesus mentioned the destruction of the temple, it was a great shock. “The sign of your coming and the end of the age” could be interpreted, “When are you going to take over and deliver us from gentile oppression?”
We look at what Jesus said in light of what we know from the New Testament. I’m sure Jesus’ answer was lost on the disciples. They had no idea that Israel was going to be scattered throughout the nations for rejecting the Messiah, that the gentiles were going to be called into the Kingdom of God, that they must be born again, and God was going to open the whole earth to the gospel (and there was a lot of earth left to open up).
When the disciples asked, “When will these things be?”, they weren’t thinking of the distant future, and Jesus coming in clouds of glory. They thought it was going to be the near future and more immediately — like in their lifetime.
The “abomination of desolation” had already occurred. Israel was still a nation, and they had no idea that it would fall and the people scattered. They had no revelation at all on the things Jesus was saying.
We should read this fresh and with new understanding. Who knows what the Lord will reveal. It will probably make Christ’s words more enlightening and with a clearer perspective.
Stay strong and prepared!