22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[a] 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[b] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[c] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
To me this passage is a very intense and impacting description of Jesus returning. To get a fuller understanding of what Jesus might have been trying to say through this passage, I’d want to do an in-depth study of the imagery and language used, as well as the context in which He was speaking.
But one thing that jumps right out at me straight away is verse 30 – “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth.” The Message version gives some added context, “Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendour and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven.”
I honestly read this at first with confusion – why would people be mourning the return of Jesus? However, a few more reads and the MSG version brought clarity – when Jesus returns, those who don’t know Him are going to be lamenting. When they see His glory, His power, His love, His grace – everything they’re missing out on – of course they will mourn.
And it’s very easy in this moment to skip straight to the conclusion prematurely – “therefore, we should all go out and witness to the ends of the earth. Amen.” Of course this is true, but I feel part of the power of this passage is in us stopping to contemplate our own existence without Christ, imagining our own reaction to seeing Him return if we had never met Him or known Him. How would you feel? I’d feel terrified, confused, ripped off, scared, hopeless, and more. This is the fate that awaits those who don’t yet know Jesus – and I want to do all I can to help turn this around for every one of them.
Lord, thank You that You have found me and saved me. Thank You for your grace and love. Help me not to glance over the fate of those who haven’t found You. Help me to share You with everyone I know, in love, that they may find the same eternal joy, peace and hope that I have found. Amen.
Written by Matt Samperi