And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!…
This chapter relates almost exclusively to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Yet in its testimony to the Divine power of foretelling future events, it has its evidential value to all students of the person of our Lord; while its central and simple lesson, "Watch! the day of your Lord's coming ye know not," may be profitably reiterated with frequency in the ears of all. One of the disciples, on passing out of the temple, drew the attention of the Master to the massiveness and grandeur of its building. How great! how stable! how wondrous! In this, as in so many instances, he saw what they saw not; and his thoughts were not as theirs. It must have been to their great surprise that he declared, "There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Sad and doleful words follow, as strikingly in contrast to the expectations of his questioners as were the former. The eager desire to know "when shall these things be," was met by threats of deception, war, earthquakes, and famines, the mere presages of trouble, to be followed by personal afflictions, persecutions, hatreds, and deaths, mingled with the uttermost national and religious confusion. The dire symbols were, "the sun shall be darkened," "the moon shall not give her light," "the stars shall be falling from heaven." We who read these words with the picture of Jerusalem's destruction before us, and in the light of modern Jewish history, see a depth of meaning in them which, the words being words of prophecy, the disciples failed to see. Pitifully do our hearts move towards Israel according to the flesh, and pray for the lifting up of the veil that is upon their eyes, that they in a true sense may "see and believe." The lesson is founded upon this prediction of judgment. In interpreting it in its application to ourselves we must see that it teaches -
I. THE EXTREME PERILOUSNESS OF HINDERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BY UNFAITHFULNESS. The Jew was favored as was no other nation under heaven. Fidelity to the great trust reposed in that people would have been attended with unmeasured Divine blessing; while unfaithfulness resulted in the direst calamity and judgment. Who shall describe the bitterness to Israel of those dread days? A free and wider diffusion of the spiritual kingdom followed. But Israel, in giving birth to a gospel of blessing to the nations, suffered throes of travail "such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and," happily, "never shall be."
II. IN OUR IGNORANCE OF THE TIMES OF GREAT AND SUDDEN CHANGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, OUR HIGHEST WISDOM IS A DILIGENT ATTENTION TO THE DUTY OF THE HOUR. The hour is always uncertain when the Lord cometh to judgment. The indolent spirit that is deluded into neglect because there is no sign of his coming, will be inevitably found "sleeping." How often has the Church been lulled thus to slumber! How often have the most responsible trusts been unfaithfully held! Times of judgment awake the sleepers often to find their work neglected or undone. The watching spirit that momentarily devotes itself to the doing of the Lord's will is the only safe spirit. Such a spirit is never surprised, never taken unawares. It matters not when "the lord of the house cometh," whether "at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning." The watching servant hails and rejoices in his lord's approach.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF THE FINAL RECOGNITION OF HUMBLE, FAITHFUL, CONTINUOUS SERVICE.
1. The gracious words of warning stimulate to effort.
2. The help of the Divine Spirit is comfortingly promised to the suffering. "It is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."
3. The perseveringly patient one shall reap in due time. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved."
4. The scattered ones whom cruel persecution has driven into all lands shall finally be restored, and the felicities of the heavenly life compensate for the sufferings of earth. "He shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." The Lord's one command, holding all within itself, is "Watch? "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!