His love remains
Matthew 24: 22-32 (NRSV)
22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then 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 produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
and the powers of heaven will be shaken.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
32 “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.
My old teacher used to say, “A text without a context becomes a pretext.” When we read Scripture, we must read what comes before, and what comes after the passage we are focussing on, this morning I invite you to read the whole chapter, if you have time go ahead and read chapter 23 too!
Our specific reading feels scary and dangerous, but when we know a little of the historical context of the gospel according to Saint Matthew, our reading is less frightening.
Matthew was writing for a community experiencing persecution and made up of Greek Jews. This gospel account was written towards the end of the first century and possibly very early in the second century. From this we realise the Temple Jesus would have known and worshipped in was now utterly destroyed, the Romans had wrecked it around the year A.C.E. 70.
The fuller story lets us know that Jesus is really annoyed with the religious leaders, and He condemns them in that same Temple. Jesus proceeds to predict the destruction of the Temple, their seat of power, and tells His disciples that in the days ahead there will be very difficult times, horrors that they never thought possible. He urges them to be on guard and watchful for false Messiahs.
For Matthew’s people, they need to know that persecution and violence is not random, for if Jesus prophesied these acts of destruction and carnage, He knew all about them, therefore, all would be well because Jesus would be with them in their suffering.
Nothing has changed, He still knows what lies ahead of us, He is still with us in our suffering. It’s very straightforward, He cannot abandon us, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (Mother Julian of Norwich)
Whatever is before you today and every day, His love remains, let go of your fear and trust God.
Holy God, I surrender myself to You afresh this new day. Thank You that there is nothing that can separate me from You and Your love. Amen.