Matthew 24 is one of the most discussed and famous chapters in the Gospel because Jesus gives his disciples “the signs of the end of the age” in the first half of his Olivet Discourse. His followers have sought to interpret these “signs” and predict his second coming and the establishment of his earthly kingdom ever since.
His teaching follows a progression from the beginning signs and general characteristics of the age before he returns to the reality of the tribulation his disciples will face to the promised certainty of his return.
Some Signs and a Challenge
Jesus lists numerous signs that will characterize the age prior to his return. To a large degree these signs characterize the entire age from the time of his ascension to the time of his return. However, there is a sense that these signs will intensify and come with increasing frequency the closer we get to his glorious return.
Though many of these signs are difficult to interpret, Jesus does give one definitive sign that will precede his return — “the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (24:14). If we wish to hasten the return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom, we should get busy proclaiming to gospel to all peoples throughout the world. We should be focused on testifying to the greatness of the king who is to return. We should also be about the business of preparing folks for his return.
The Promise of Grace (24:13, 22, 31)
I want to make one final note about chapter 24, and that is the promise of grace that Jesus gives to his disciples and us. Three different times he highlights the grace of God which is given to the elect in Christ. Verse 13 says, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Then, verse 22 reads, “…But for the sake of the elect those days (the days of tribulation) will be cut short.” And, again, in verse 31, we read, “…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.”
Talk of the end of the age, of the end of the world can be troubling, confusing, and even scary. But, the promise of Jesus is true — there is hope for the elect, those whose lives are hidden Christ. If you are in Christ, if you have chosen to follow him, then you should be encouraged by his promise. There is no way for you to choose him if he has not chosen you. You have been elected by his grace from eternity; therefor, you are sealed in his everlasting grace. Do not be afraid. You are his, and you will not suffer the judgement of God because he has suffered it for you.