Matthew 24:32-35

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35

Is anyone else tired of pundits and pollsters? Mathematical games that reduce policy deliberations to numbers (+/-4%). Approval ratings, opinions, and predictions followed by nonstop dissection and competing interpretations. Evidently we love these things or we wouldn’t be constantly barraged by them.

The newspaper tells us that NASA is making plans to blast an earthbound asteroid out in space in 2134. Social Security will run out of money in 2030 (I’ll be 70 then, ouch.) Stephen Hawking’s final research paper, “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation”, predicts the end of the universe. Or at least this universe. (But I’m still going to save for retirement.) The only thing we know for sure is that the universe as we know it has clearly outlived Stephen Hawking.

As we work our way through this 24th chapter of Matthew we always keep in mind that the cataclysmic event of the day was the destruction of the Jewish temple and the attempted decimation of the population in and around Jerusalem. By the time Matthew was written, those things had already happened. What Matthew gives us in Jesus is a narrative seeking to make sense of all of it.

Today Jesus wonders, “Can we read the signs of the times?” Do we see, in the current realities of our lives, signs of God’s activity? Do we see, in the current realities of our lives, signs of the rejection of God’s ways of being?

Is it possible that our fascination with polls and opinions, with future predictions and possible outcomes, are simply diversionary tactics that fill the air so we can’t hear, or see, what is truly happening in and around us?

A month ago no one in Austin was afraid of a FedEx delivery. Not today. Fear has gripped an entire region. Eventually the perpetrators of these gutless bombs will be stopped and caught. But until then suspicion and fear will cast a dark pall over life. No one knows when it will end.

Jesus tells us “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What words are these? These words so closely tied to the destruction of the temple, or these words so closely tied to the tensions of our lives, the “now but not yet-ness” in which we live? His words of impending doom or future glory or both?

Sometimes I wonder how it is that many people pay much more attention to, and take much more stock in, the poll numbers they read in the papers than the words of Jesus in the Bible. If the talking heads on television are more influential than preachers doing their best every Sunday to bring Jesus to bear on our lives. That many people take Stephen Hawking more seriously than Jesus.

The bottom line is that I don’t know what the future holds, but I trust the One who holds the future in the palm of His hand. I trust his Word. I trust his promises. I trust Him.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we live in an age of anxiety and fear. In that we join people of all times and all places for there has always been, and will always be, a precariousness to our lives. There is always tension. There is always the temptation and desire to control, to explain, to justify. Come to us today, as you always have and always will, to assure us that you have the whole world, now and forever, in your hands. Soften our fear with faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 24:32-35”

  1. Tim McGee Says:

    Thank you for the reassuring faith.

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    I prefer God’s positive assurance of everlasting life to Hawking’s negative doubts of our Universe ending in the near future.

    I consider your words to be those that I believe:

    “The bottom line is that I don’t know what the future holds, but I trust the One who holds the future in the palm of His hand. I trust his Word. I trust his promises. I trust Him.”

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