Saturday, March 4, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Matthew 23-25
Today’s scripture reading presents an impossible task: Choosing one portion of scripture for a devotional thought out of three chapters so rich in content and application it took me 6 months to preach through them in my series on the Gospel of Matthew!
I remind you as you read Matthew 23, 24, and 25 that our LORD is making His last journey from Galilee in northern Israel, south along the eastern shore of the Jordan River with His ultimate destination Jerusalem and the Cross. In a series of confrontations with His antagonists, the Sadducees who denied the resurrection and the scribes and Pharisees who were the religious leaders of their day, we find our LORD and His disciples in the midst of the last week of His earthly life and ministry. Matthew 23 records a series of emphatic condemnations Jesus directed at the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy.
The theme of Matthew 24 and 25 is the signs of the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. The setting for Matthew 24 is the Mount of Olives and the passage, known as “The Olivet Discourse”, is an answer to three questions proposed by the disciples: “Tell us, when [what time; how long] shall these things be [i.e. when will they come to pass]? and what shall be the sign [token; i.e. distinguishing mark] of Thy coming [advent; return], and of the end [completion; consummation] of the world [age]?” (Matthew 24:3).
Jesus, prophesying to His enemies and disciples that the city of Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed (Matthew 23:37-38), a prophecy fulfilled in 70 AD, inspired those questions. In spite of Jesus plainly teaching His disciples on several occasions that His destiny was the cross, not an earthly throne, they continued to hold out hope of reigning with Him in Jerusalem.
Matthew 25 continues the signs of Christ’s Second Coming urging believers to not only understand the signs, but also be prepared when He comes. Two parables illustrate the need for believers to be watchful and ready for the Second Coming of Christ: “The Parable of Ten Virgins” (25:1-13) and “The Parable of the Talents” (25:14-30). Since we know neither the day nor the hour, both parables illustrate the urgency of being prepared for Christ’s sudden return.
I close today’s devotional commentary with a truth: The LORD will judge every believer in light of the talents, abilities, spiritual gifts, offices and opportunities he has been afforded.
Are you ready for His coming?
Romans 14:10 – “… for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith