Key Verse: Matthew 24:14Big Idea: Be ready! The King is coming.
Matthew 24 and Matthew 25 are called the Olivet Discourse - a sermon preached by Jesus about the end of the world. He predicted the total destruction of the Temple, which would happen in AD 70, and His disciples assumed this must be the final event of history. The beginning of the passage is interesting, because it is so misunderstood. Jesus talks about wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues, and people tend to identify these as the signs of the end. Just Jesus’ point is basically the opposite: these things must happen, but this is not how the world ends.
War is horrible, and can cause unimaginable sufferings, but it will not be any human conflict which completes history. Plagues and famines may take a tremendous toll on human life, but they will not be the death knell of our world. Jesus’ disciples will be persecuted, arrested and hated for following Jesus, but the world does not end when they have been overcome. God is waiting on something different: the gospel to be preached to all nations. When that has been accomplished, then the end will come. This is no light distinction: the end of the world is not the defeat of God’s plan and people, but its triumph. When the chance to accept Christ has permeated every place, God will finally judge the world justly.
Why has Jesus not come back already? Because He is waiting on as many people to be saved as will, before He punishes sin and rescues His people. The path there might be rocky, but the destination is known. That means we need to be ready for it, not by stockpiling food or building underground bunkers, but finding the safety that only comes from faith in Jesus. If we have come to Him for forgiveness, then the final judgment is not something we will fear, but something we will celebrate.
Younger kids: Have you ever seen a movie or TV show that scared you? Is it as scary the second time, when you know what happens?
Older kids: There is a lot of fear in our world about war, climate change and disease. These things are often real threats, but what does it mean for us to know that they will not be victorious over humanity? Can it affect the way that we prioritize our lives?
Discussion idea: When have you had to do something quickly because you knew that your parents/boss/spouse would be there soon? If e do not know exactly when Jesus will return, but know He will, how should we be prepared?
Prayer focus: Go to joshuaproject.net and find an unreached people group to read about. Pray specifically that God would send workers there, and that they might be saved. Or, if you have Facebook, watch this short video about the work that the Reynolds family is doing in Indonesia and pray for their work among the Yetfa: https://www.facebook.com/chase.reynolds.969/videos/10221559355120123/