Teaching at the Mount of Olives: Matthew 24:1-31
The Chinese have a proverb: “Prophesying is always very difficult, especially about the future!” In the Bible, prophecy is not only knowledge of the future but insight into the present. In Matthew 24 we see Jesus the prophet—and a very realistic prophet. His picture of what lies ahead is not of a world where everything will get better and better. He does not begin to suggest that everyone will eagerly embrace his cause or his followers.
Why do you think so many people are fascinated with prophecy—biblical and otherwise?
If you could ask for a prophecy about your own life, what would you want to know about: what career to choose? if and whom you will marry? how God will call you to serve him?
False prophets tell us what we want to hear. True prophets tell us what we need to hear. We would like Jesus to be the great positive thinker. Yet he came not only to bring peace to the troubled but trouble to those who are being lulled into a false peace. Read Matthew 24:1-31.
- If you were a reporter assigned to cover Jesus’ speech, what would be your headline?
- The disciples asked, “When?” (v. 3). Why do you think Jesus did not answer them more directly?
- In verses 4 and 5 Jesus warns his disciples about being deceived. What are some of the marks of a deceiver (see 1 John 4:1-6)?
- In what ways do you think people today are being deceived?
- In what areas are you vulnerable to deceit?
- Jesus sees human history as being very unstable (vv. 6-8). What signs of instability does he mention?
- How are these signs like “the beginning of birth pains” (v. 8)?
- What will happen to Jesus’ disciples and to others as the end approaches (vv. 9-13)?
- When the “abomination that causes desolation” comes, what actions should believers take, and why (vv. 15-22)?
- As Jesus’ followers watch for his return during those days, how can they tell the difference between false Christs and the true one (vv. 23-31)?
- How can we “keep watch” and “be ready” for Jesus?
- What spiritual disciplines are you (or would you like to be) incorporating into your life to help you watch for Jesus?
Ask God to give you clarity in reading the “signs of the times” and to guide you in being prepared for his return.
Now or Later
- Read Matthew 24:32-51. How can we apply the lesson of the fig tree (vv. 32-35) to the events preceding Christ’s return?
- How will the coming of Christ be like the days of Noah (vv. 36-41)?
- What do the stories of the homeowner and the servants teach us about the Lord’s return (vv. 42-51)?
- When is it hard for you to trust in the Lord’s return?
Tell Jesus you trust him to save you from judgment in the last
days—whether your trust is large or little for now. A small amount
of faith (trust) goes a long way in the kingdom.