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trayeth thee?) (21) Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ? Follow thou me. (23) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die : yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die ; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (24) This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things.”
It is true that we have here, as the Apostle himself modestly points out, not an express declaration, but only an indirect intimation. But it was an intimation in which “the brethren” placed confidence ; and it was one which the Apostle thought sufficiently important to be worth recording, while he omitted other particulars in our Saviour's life and discourses, so numerous, that, “ if they should be written every one,” he supposed " that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." When we further consider that the Apostle John (perhaps alone of the Apostles) lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem and the establishment of the Messianic dispensation (the new kingdom of the Messiah) upon the ruins of the Jewish, can we doubt that the Saviour meant something more than merely to rebuke the natural curiosity of Peter, and to excite false expectations in the bosom of John ?
IV. The association of his coming with events which were manifestly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem.
This appears most remarkably in our Saviour's discourse upon Mount Olivet two days before his crucifixion, recorded in Mat. xxiv., xxv., Mark xiž., and Luke xxi. The occasion of this discourse is thus stated by Matthew :
The attempt of some to find a fulớlment of v. 28 in the transfiguration, of which an account immediately follows, and which occurred “after six days," is incumbered with peculiar difficulties. The different expressions used by the three Evangelists, “the Son of man coming in his kingdom,” “ the kingdom of God come with power,” and “the kingdom of God,” are certainly all very strange ones to denote a mere change of personal appearance, however glorious, before three witnesses, who were not to disclose it till some time after. We may well wonder that any boldness of figurative expression should shock those who can thus interpret. Besides, would not this impart an air of trifling to our Saviour's solemn declaration ? -“ Verily, I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see ” an event which will take place in the course of a week! No one, of course, will think of drawing any argument from the fact that the Cardinal Hugo, in dividing the New Testament into chapters, in the thirteenth century, made a different division in Mark from that in Matthew.
I see not, therefore, how we can avoid the conclusion, that the Saviour, in the emphatic assurance, " Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,” expressly declared the Second Coming would taker some who were then living
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Mat. xxiv. 1, “ And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple : and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. (2) And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things ? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. (3) And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ? "
In the minds of the disciples, the coming of Christ and the end of the world were inseparably connected with the destruction of the temple ; and their two questions related, not to different events, but to the same events ; the first question relating to the time, and the second to the sign, of these events. This is obvious from the parallel passages in Mark and Luke.
Mark xiii. 3, “ And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, asked him privately, (4) Tell us, when shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled ? " - Luke xxi. 7, “ And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass ? '
Our Saviour, in his very minute and explicit reply, was so far from intimating to his disciples that they were erroneously connecting events between which millenaries were to intervene, that, on the contrary, he himself associated, in the following unequivocal and emphatic language, the destruction of Jerusalem, his own coming, and the establishment of the kingdom of God.
Luke xxi. 20, “ And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. (21) Then let them which are in Judea flee to the
mountains ; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. (22) For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (23) But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. (24) And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (25) And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (26) Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth : for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (27) And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory. (28) And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads : for your redemption draweth nigh.
(29) And he spake to them a parable ; Behold the fig. tree, and all the trees; (30) When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of yourselves that summer is now nigh at hand. (31) So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. (32) Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
(33) Heaven and earth shall pass away : but my words shall not pass away. (34) And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (36) Watch ye, therefore, and
pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”