First Despair Then Hope

Nov 04, 2011

A Meditation on Matthew 24:1-14

Hope! There is joy, anticipation and longing in our hopes. The disciples had hope … hope that Jesus would set up the Kingdom. A few days earlier, he arrived in Jerusalem to a humble king’s welcome on a path strewn with coats and palm branches accompanied by shouts of praise saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David … Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt. 21:9)

Hope reigned. Anticipation of all of Israel’s longings pulsated through their souls. Then hope began to unravel. First, Jesus cleansed the temple creating irreconcilable rejection and distain from the religious authorities whose turf he trampled. Then he publicly fileted the scribes and Pharisees’ character, motives, values and heart revealing their utter emptiness, corruptness, spiritual abuse and manipulation of God’s people.

There is no harsher way to humiliate religious leaders. The disciples intuitively knew that things were not going well. Someone tried to redeem the situation by pointing out the glorious temple but Jesus said it will be torn down. Despair was thick.

Wanting to return to hope, the Twelve asked a reasonable question. “Tell us when will these things happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) In their hearts, they seemed to know now was not the time. But they wanted hope and wanted to know.

“And Jesus answered….” There is hope in these words. Jesus left no doubt that He is coming and that there is an end to this age. Then He answered their question thoroughly (Matt. 24:4 – 25:46).

Matthew the tax-gatherer had a distained profession before following Jesus. His profession required great memory, abilities with a form of shorthand to record tax assessments and an ability to intuit important events (for the possibility of gathering taxes from the opportunity, of course). Matthew somehow knew to record this conversation. Humanly speaking, we owe much to Matthew’s talents and diligence.

Matthew recorded what Jesus said:

False teachers will come in Jesus’ name saying, ‘I am the Christ’.

Result: many mislead.

  • There will be wars and rumours of war.
  • Admonition: don’t be frightened. 
  • Nation will rise against nation. There will be famines and earthquakes. 
  • Perspective: this is just the beginning.


Then…

  • You will be delivered to tribulation; they will kill you and you will be hated by all nations because of my name.
  • Many will fall away, betray one another and hate one another.
  • Many false prophets will arise and mislead many.
  • Most people’s love will grow cold.


How could there be more despair than in this list? Where is the hope?

Hope begins to bud in the admonition to “endure” (v13). Then hope blossoms (v14). There is an end. It ends, Jesus said, when “...this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations.”

“Then the end will come,” Jesus says. The King of Kings will come! Jesus will reign forever and ever! There is hope in Him. “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matt. 12:21)

In the midst of adversity and despair there is hope. Hope’s name is JESUS. Maranatha.

Stacy Rinehart