Tag Archives: Jesus’ words

What does ‘This Generation’ mean?

Jesus said: Assuredly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Jesus prophesied these unforgettable words to four of his disciples on the Mountt of Olives as recorded in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:30.

It is critical to understand which generation Jesus meant. Taking the plain meaning without any bias, Jesus was referring to his generation.

But some scholars say Jesus must have meant a future generation. 

Some insist Jesus meant the word “race”,  i.e., the Hebrew race. They reason that because the Hebrew race remains today, the coming of Jesus has not taken place, putting his coming far into the unknown future.

These scholars avoid the obvious meaning in the context of the gospel, dogmatically committed to a future return of Jesus, instead of simply accepting that Jesus spoke of the closeness of His coming.

Jesus prophesied to those disciples on the Mount of Olives, that He would return before His hearers’ generation had passed away. Yet the same people accept that Jesus spoke literally about the coming fall of the Jerusalem temple among other events. So then there is no logical reason to exclude the coming of Jesus.

There is no doubt the disciples took Jesus’ words “this generation” to mean soon, at the door, at hand. They knew His coming was imminent, perhaps even in their lifetime. We see it in their writings.

Their letters in the N.T. frequently reflect their expectancy of a soon coming, though the hour and day were unknown. We read of their warnings, their urgency to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God and their urgings to live righteously.

They knew Jesus warned them to get the Kingdom of God proclaimed in the towns of Judea before His coming (Matthew 10:23).

Check these references out for yourself: Rom 13:11-13, 1 Cor 10:11, Phil 1:6,10, 1 Thes 1:10, 4:17; 2 Thes 1:7; 2 Tim 3:1; Heb 1:2, 9:28, 10:29; Jas 5:3; 1 Pet 1:5, 7-9, 13, 17, 20; 2 Pet 3:3; Jude 19).

Now let’s look at some instances of Jesus’ phrase this generation in the gospels, paying close attention to the context of each. You will see they consistently refer to the people alive then as Jesus spoke (and this list is not exhaustive):

Mat 12:45. . . the last of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Mat 12:41-42. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented. . . The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment. . .

Mark 8:12. Why does this generation seek . . sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.

Mark 8:38 : “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels”.

Here Jesus warned people in that crowd that some of them, this generation, will be alive ‘when He comes in glory!

Luke 17:25. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Mat 17:17. O faithless generation, how long shall I bear with you . .  the crowd who had no faith to heal

Mat 23:35-36. Assuredly, I say unto you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Jesus’ phrase all these things is repeated in Mat 24:34, Mark 31:30, and Luke 21:30.

Mat 24:34f, Mk 13:30f, Lu 21:30f. NKJV. Assuredly, I say to you,this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

All three synoptic gospels! And all three carry the word assuredly! (Grk amen) and the affirmation that though heaven and earth could pass away, his words stand forever!

So who would dare to change his plain words?

In Mat 23 we read Jesus’ savage attacks on the Jewish ruling elites of that current generation: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  Then after the 7 woes, we read verses 31-36:

Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Further, this particular generation was condemned to such a great extent, that Jesus warned those weeping women as He was led to the cross saying: Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children . . . as he knew what terrible times they would face (Luke 23:28).

Conclusion

In the Olivet discourse of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the generation named by Jesus can only mean the generation of people Jesus was addressing.

We can see that this is consistent with the other numerous references of his using the phrase this generation.

There is no logical or hermeneutical reason why we should not believe and accept that Jesus spoke literally about “all these things will come upon this generation.” (Mat 24:34).

Discovering Matthew 7 continued

OK. I just have to tell you a bit more we found from our personal discoveries in the rest of chapter 7.  As we said, the Word of God came to us as we sort of ‘traveled back 2000 years’ and heard Jesus’ words that would never be out of date, would never pass away.

The Lord expects us to order our behaviour today living in his kingdom, his gracious Good News rule, his new covenant in his blood—which replaced the old covenant under the Mosaic age system.

We saw how Jesus warned the disciples about fake prophets and to recognise them by their results (fruits) not by their words or their attire. Do they point people to Jesus alone as Lord and Saviour?

Then he warns them/us again (7:22-23): Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ That’s chilling.

Jesus talks again here about entering the Kingdom of Heaven. There will be some who appear to be sincere and spiritually endowed will not necessarily enter in. Only Jesus sees into the heart. No it’s all about doing the will of his heavenly Father. In John 6:56 Jesus answers their question, “What must we do, that we may work the works of God?” by declaring This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. And as we are discovering in our studies Matthew chapters 5 to 7, believing in Jesus carries certain obligations in relation to the will of the Father.

At the last judgment, there will be some who appeared to be well qualified with lots of stories to plead of their various mighty works. They will be told in that day ‘I never knew you’. How we act certainly counts but what we do doesn’t necessarily lead to friendship with Jesus. Miracles however important and wonderfully given by Christ, can draw great crowds of people who can ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ and be led astray by evil spirits, into evil practices and iniquity. Our enemy can mimic spiritual gifts, assemble a web of deceit . Fake spiritual leaders and gurus will suffer terrible judgment and separation from Jesus: ‘Depart from me, you who work iniquity—I never knew you.’

Hey, wait a minute: Does Jesus know you?

We talk a lot about us knowing Jesus. But does he know you? In the End, we will know fully, even as I was also fully known (1 Cor 13:12). Will he recognise you?

Good question. To answer, there are a couple of clues here in this passage.  

First, it’s not about what we decide to do. It’s about doing the will of my Father. We can’t assume that by doing religious or ‘spiritual’ things or following a system or tradition that we are doing the will of Jesus’ Father. Right?

We can’t decide what are the best things to do for the Kingdom. Unless we enter the Kingdom, see the Kingdom, we will not turn and be obedient to his will. We will just kinda hope what we do is what he wants.

That’s dangerous.

Is it the will of the Father that we have congregations going through the motions Sunday by Sunday in religious services under the control of a priest or pastor who is paid to maintain certain doctrines and provide expected services? Is it the will of the Father that we persist with this clergy/laity divide? Is it the will of the Father that the congregants have no opportunity to express their spiritual gifting? Is it the will of the Father that they don’t even know about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit promised by the Lord? Is it the will of the Father that financial matters run the organisation? Well?

Is it what the Father wants that we copy (love) the world, trying to compete with the culture, make gatherings ‘seeker friendly’ and comfortable and avoid any talk about sin or judgment that will come? Is that what it’s all about?

Second. Jesus emphatically warns them—and us who are eager to hear his voice today—that there are many who will hear these awful words: Depart from me, you who work iniquity.

Instead of being a good tree which bears good fruit, producing lovely results, people finding life and truth in Jesus alone, there are those who are secretly working iniquity. They will be ordered Depart from me!

So it’s not so much whether we think we know Jesus—and yes we must!—but whether he knows us. And we know he knows us because we bear good fruit for him, and we live a life free of sin and carnality. We must not be deceived and think we can do just as we think is right. We must be ‘perfect’ like the Father as we saw at Matthew 5:48! We will be constantly asking ‘your will be done in me as it in heaven.’ Making progress, being transformed.

So how do we know what is right, what the Father’s will is?

Well the answer is very conveniently given us in verses 24-27 in this highly visual story:

“Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Here are two types of hearers. Yes hearers. Which one are you? Both hear these words of mine. But only the ‘wise one’ hears these words of Jesus AND DOES THEM.

There are many voices we hear, but Jesus’ words are the words of God and the express will of God. That is perfectly clear from the gospel texts.  Yet we may hear his words, treasure them, memorise them, study and meditate on them, proclaim them—and fail to actually do them.

If you are not going to DO the words of Jesus, you might be better off eternally by not even hearing them.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching,for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes (7:28-29). There could be no doubt –the multitudes were clearly given the way, the truth and the life! A total lifestyle and a completely different world view by the One who is anointed to speak with true authority.

Hear Jesus’ words and do what he says. It will be worth the turnings, the dying within us of following another, the suffering and the trials we may endure. Read his words. Listen to him. Then just act on them.

Then on that Day we will not be ashamed and hear him say well done good and faithful servant. Come!