The Son Of Man Comes
October 9, 2020
But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:23).
This is a tough passage to understand because of the last clause, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. It is clear Jesus was not talking about His 2nd coming when He reigns on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-7). Matthew wrote his gospel long after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. And the context of these words have to do with persecution for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So these words have something to do with the work of the apostles before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
Scholars have debated the meaning of this verse for centuries. B. H. Carroll said over 100 years ago (An Interpretation of the English Bible) that, “The usage of common life determines the meaning of a word or phrase . . . The usage of the time and place of the writer determines the meaning . . . If a word or phrase has several meanings, the context determines the meaning it bears in a given passage. The more common meaning of the writer’s day is to be preferred . . . The direct or literal sense of a sentence is the meaning of the author.”
The context of this verse is Jesus sending His disciples out as apostles to the towns, villages, and cities, preparing them for Jesus’ visit (10:5). They would announce the coming of Jesus to them, then Jesus would come to them. Given the context, and taking the words of Jesus literally, the verse can only mean the disciples will face persecution during their mission. When persecution arises, they are to wipe the dust from their feet and move on to the next town. They will continue this pattern until they visit all the places where Jesus planned to visit. Jesus will begin to visit the places where the apostles have been before they have finished their mission.
What would the purpose be for Jesus’ visit to those places that rejected the message of the apostles? To judge them publicly. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (Matthew 11:21-24).
“Lord Jesus, although Your words to the apostles took place 2 millennia ago, they are still applicable today - we are to go out into the highways and byways and compel people to come into Your Kingdom. Their refusal to do so will result in Your judgment upon their unbelief. Keep me faithful to the task of sharing Your Gospel so that others will not face Your judgment. Amen”