This study will use the principles outlined for interpreting parables in the Introduction in Lesson 1 and in the story-metaphor approach in Lesson 3.
- “The Homeowner who was Burglarized in the Night” and “The Faithful Servant” are memorable parables from Matthew 24. To understand the context, begin to read in Matthew 23 through 24. Notice that Chapter 25 (if all these teachings were actually done at one time) is a continuation of chapter 24, concluding in the initial verses of chapter 26 with a declaration by Jesus of his upcoming death, “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’”
- Contemplate the context in chapter 23, with the prediction of the crucifixion in the first verses of chapter 26. Notice to whom is given the first portion of this critique of the Pharisees and the teachers of religious law. In Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, the word, “figurear” expresses this concept of trying to represent the role of protagonist or of one of the most important persons. Then notice when the focus changes and to whom. Formulate a list of positive instructions, how Jesus desires that righteous people of faith should live and focus their energy.
- Chapter 24 opens with the departure of Jesus and the disciples. With what tone and inference do you imagine the disciples pointing out the temple buildings in vs.1? What do you imagine they were thinking after Jesus’ response and their question recorded in vs.3?
- The Gospel of Matthew was directed to a Jewish population that was awaiting the coming of a Messianic Kingdom. What might the disciples have been imagining when they asked, “What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
- Sometimes chapter 24 is understood as a description of specific events. Popular songs and movies in the 20th century have added to our images of this chapter. In light of the injunctions against the Pharisees and the teachers of religious law in chapter 23, what do you think Jesus wanted to be clear to his disciples? How was he unsettling and challenging them?
- Do you have a life experience that leads you to identify with the homeowner in vs. 42-44, or the faithful servant in vs. 45-51? How does your story enrich your understanding of what Jesus is teaching?
- Return to your list of qualities of faithful living from chapter 23 (see #1 above). How does chapter 24 complement and extend that list?
- Summarize the main idea of Matthew 24.
- What questions do you still hold?
- Apply these parables to your own life: How are you unsettled by these stories? How will you live this week?
- How does this lead you to pray and to humble yourself before God; the very opposite of a “figureao” that cares about images?
- What direction emerges for the church as we wait for the coming of the Kingdom?