Matthew 24:15-31 (NIV)
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 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.’ 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 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.
This is the middle of a difficult passage. It’s easy to get caught up in the rumours, false prophets, false Messiahs, chaos and brokenness and be overcome by confusion and fear. But Jesus isn’t the source of any of these things, and his return sweeps all of those things away.
Jesus makes it clear that he won’t be hard to find. (Don’t listen to rumours that he’s somewhere else). He can be found by all who seek him now (Isaiah 55:6). His return will be even more obvious than lightning that flashes across the sky. His return will be so unambiguous that even people who don’t want to see him return will recognise him.
There will be false prophets, even false Messiahs, who will try to deceive us. But there’s no deception from Jesus. The returning Jesus is the same Jesus who was teaching the truth in the temple courts – the Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6). His return restores truth to all creation. He restores humanity’s true purpose in relationship with God.
We shouldn’t look for Jesus in the chaos and brokenness that sin brings to the world. The same Jesus who was healing the blind and the sick is returning to bring complete wholeness to all creation.
We shouldn’t look towards Jesus’ return with fear or confusion but hope and expectation. We shouldn’t view his return as a cause for mourning but for joy at his return.
Thank you, Jesus, that you are returning to complete the reconciliation of all things that you began on the cross. And thank you, too, that you give us a part to play now, bringing your word of reconciliation to the world (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). Today, I want my life and my words to speak your clear truth, your words of hope and expectation, your plea to all people to be reconciled to you.
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
Written by David Cornell