Matthew 24:26 (Jesus said) “So, if they say to you, ‘Look! (the Son of Man) is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other… 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”
We’re getting to the end of the gospel of Matthew and Jesus is teaching about the second coming of the Son of Man. There are some interesting pieces here. First, in v.26 Jesus is telling us we won’t have to wonder if he has returned. We won’t have to go looking for him in the wilderness or the “inner rooms” of the temple in Jerusalem. It will be obvious to all (see v.27). Jesus will come again “with power and great glory” (v.30).
There there is v.34 which says “this generation” of people, those living in the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, “will not pass away until all these things have taken place”. Well, we’re still waiting aren’t we? How can this be? As I’ve done some study on this passage a couple of possibilities emerge.
First, those who believe that Jesus was infallible will say we have to expand our definition of “this generation”. Jesus wasn’t talking about the lifetimes of his contemporaries, but a longer generation – as in the generation of the church. This definition of “generation” would include Matthew’s original audience (early Christians of whom some were alive in Jesus’ day) as well as you and me. It’s an interesting idea but I’m not sure I buy it.
Then there are those who recognize the disconnect between Jesus’ teaching here and our experience (still waiting), but that the error belongs to the gospel writer Matthew who was writing for the sake of a generation of Christians who were suffering. Perhaps believing Jesus’ return was imminent might make their suffering bearable because the end could not be far off. Mmm…. maybe.
How about this. What if these were the words of Jesus, not Matthew, and Jesus was just plain wrong on this point? If Jesus was fully human as well as fully diving, could he not have made an error in his timeline? The bible tells us that Jesus was without in (2 Corinthians 5:21) not that he never made any mistakes. In that spirit then I am inclined to interpret this as a simple error on Jesus’ part. Jesus… was wrong. Was he without sin? Was he the Son of God? Did he give his life for all our sakes? Yes. Yes. And yes. Is it possible I have this wrong? Yes.
What do you think? I’m interested to read your thoughts.
Lord Jesus you are my Savior, the Lord of my life, my Light in the darkness. Be with me and all people as we struggle with a potentially deadly virus in our midst. Give us peace when we’re separated from one another for extended periods of time. Hold us in your tender care. Amen.