Matthew 24:50 (At an Hour You Will Not Recognize)

After answering His disciples’ request for when the temple would be destroyed and a sign of His coming and the end of the age Jesus has concluded for them the need to be on the alert and keep watch, lest His coming catch them by surprise like a thief in the night.  For His coming will be at a time they do not suppose.  This need to be on the alert applies especially to His ministers whom He has put in charge to feed the other members of His household their rations of spiritual food at the proper time.  To those whom He finds so doing when He comes there will be a great blessing as He puts them in charge of all His heavenly treasures.  But for those who are lax in keeping watch and grow impatient awaiting His return, who begin to abuse the spiritual authority Christ gave them over others and to imbibe of the spirit of the world, what does Jesus now repeat is the inevitable result?  See Mat 24:50.  In what way was this true of the Jewish leaders in regard to Christ’s first coming?  Recall that two days previous Jesus had made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the very day the Passover lambs were being set apart for sacrifice, but they were not expecting their Messiah to come in this way at that time.  And now on Tuesday of Passion Week just hours earlier they had met Jesus as He entered the temple (Mat 21:23) seeking some occasion to put Him to death (Luk 20:20) because they were not spiritually awake and alert to know that this was the time of their visitation; see Luk 19:41-44 and notice that the same word translated as know in Mat 24:50 is translated as recognize in Luk 19:44.  See also the KJV and NIV that translates Mat 24:50 as “an hour that he is not aware of”; see Joh 5:39-40 and cf. Luk 24:15-16, Joh 20:14-16.

Consider that at Christ’s first coming the Messiah came unexpectedly at a time the unbelieving Jews didn’t recognize and were not aware of, and as a consequence they were carried away in a flood of destruction; how was this just like in the days of Noah Jesus had just warned about?  Notice that the same word translated as know in Mat 24:50 and recognize in Luk 19:44 is translated as understand in Mat 24:39; cf. Mat 16:2-3.  Is this not a reflection of the very nature of sin that deceives man to suppose that the wages of sin really aren’t as bad as they are made out to be and everything will continue as it always has (2Pe 3:4)?  Is it possible that as the Jewish leaders had grown lax awaiting the coming of their Messiah and became filled with the spirit of the world so that the Messiah came when they were not expecting it and at an hour they didn’t recognize—is it possible that the very same thing could happen to Christians who are awaiting His return, and if they are not alert but filled with the spirit of the world, the Messiah they await may come on a day they do not expect, and at an hour they do not know or recognize?  See Mat 24:44.  Is it also possible that the surprise aspect of His second coming is not necessarily the instantaneous rapture to heaven that they are expecting to be like a surprise trip to Disneyland, but as with the Jewish leaders at His first coming it could be the unexpected nature of a coming that is not recognized because their hearts are “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life” (Luk 21:34) and they don’t have eyes to see it?

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