We have completed our tour of Mark’s gospel, and I hope that along the way, you have found something to challenge you, something to comfort you, and something to inspire you; I know I have found all of these. As promised last week, today we begin a new tour, a tour through one of the most difficult passages in the entire New Testament, a passage that is entirely unique, because it is the longest passage recorded of Jesus speaking prophetically, and it is called the Olivet Discourse. Oh sure, Jesus spoke prophetically many times, in fact by the very nature of His identity His words tend to be prophetic on one level or another, but here in these verses, He uses the language of a prophet in revealing a message to His disciples.
Before I get too far into this, I want to be sure to disclose the fact that writing these posts is very much an experiment for me. I have already posted my class notes on the Olivet Discourse, but here I am trying to work out a method for explaining and teaching prophetic passages in an easy to read and non-academic format that can be completed in a reasonable number of posts; a tall order! A book on this subject could easily run several hundred pages and not speak to the multitude of followers of Jesus Christ who aren’t formally trained in theology, and this is precisely the group of people I am trying to write this for. As I begin this undertaking, I am not entirely sure I can do a satisfactory job of it.
The passage we’ll be looking at is Matthew 24 and 25, and to understand the Olivet Discourse, it will be necessary to consider several exegetical components and how they work together to provide us with an accurate view of what Jesus was telling the disciples. These components include context; the historical setting, the context within Matthew’s larger narrative, and the internal context of the passage itself. We will need to consider exegetical method, which is to say the manner and method of interpretation (hermeneutic), and we will need to consider the grammatical structure of the language of the passage. Let’s be honest, doing this in a non-academic way for “regular” Christians is the part of this project that I’m finding a little bit daunting at the moment.
Finally, I’d like to share my objectives with you here at the beginning of the project. First, I want to give you a fresh look at a difficult passage, a passage that is often spoken of in relation to various doctrinal discussions, but which is seldom taught in its own right. Second, I hope to show you not only how I see the passage, but why I see it that way. Third, I hope to give you some new insight into how to study prophetic passages in a systematic and responsible way so that you don’t have to take the word of every crazy speaker or author who comes along, and finally, I hope to work out a method for blogging about prophecy that involves more than just repeating the “party line” of others.
Well, I’ve probably run you off by this point! If you’re still reading this, you are hardy indeed, and thanks for hanging in there with me. Believe it or not, I think this will end up being a lot of fun… at least I hope so. It will certainly be an adventure, and adventure is what life is all about; our adventure through life with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s meet right back here bright and early tomorrow morning, and we’ll set out into the wild and thrilling lands of Biblical prophecy, with none other than our Lord as the tour guide!