"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." - Matthew 24:34
All of chapter 24 is about the "end of the age" (aka Jesus's return). Jesus spends a long time making sure we don't fall for any "false Christs" before his actual return. He says many false Christs will come before him and perform great miracles. If these "false" Christs can perform great miracles then what is "false" about them? Jesus says the true sign will be when flies down from heaven, angels blow trumpets, the "elected" are gathered from "the four winds" (what?), and the abomination that causes desolation is in the holy place (again, what?). This has to be the most vague prophecy I've ever heard.
As if this isn't all crazy enough already, Jesus drops a bombshell. "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." So all of these prophecies about Jesus's return were supposed to have happened in the writer's generation?Then what are all these Christians waiting around for? Either all this has already happened, or the prophecy is bullshit. If there's some other interpretation of this passage, I can't find it.
Jesus spends the rest of the chapter explaining how this prophecy will be fulfilled when people least expect it. This all seems pretty irrelevant now, considering he's talking about something that happened 2000 years ago (or didn't happen at all). Even if we throw out Jesus saying all this will happen in his generation, this passage makes people that try to put a date on the end of the world seem silly. They're putting a date on something that the prophecy deliverer himself says can't be dated.
The next parable is about ten virgins. Five of the virgins are "foolish", and five are "wise". The stupid virgins decide not to put oil in their lamps, the smart ones do. They are all waiting around for the bridegroom to come, but he takes forever and they all fall asleep. At midnight, the bridegroom arrives. By this time, the stupid virgin's lamps have gone out. They beg the smart virgins for oil, but they tell the stupid virgins to go to the market and buy some.
By the time the stupid virgins get back from the market, the bridegroom has already taken the five smart virgins to the wedding banquet. When the stupid virgins beg to be let into the banquet, the bridegroom says "I don't know you". And this is all a huge metaphor for God (the bridegroom) and humanity (the virgins). We're all supposed to have our oil lamps full, because we never know when the bridegroom (God) is going to come. Hopefully God doesn't take advantage of us after getting drunk at the wedding banquet. I think I just took the metaphor too far.
The next parable is about a man with three servants. He gives one servant five talents, the next servant two talents, and the final servant one talent. The first servant uses his five talents to gain five more. Likewise, the second servant uses his two talents to gain two more. However, the last servant buries his talent so he doesn't lose it.
Upon the master's return, he praises the first two servants for doubling their money. When he gets to the last servant he calls him wicked, and gives his talent to the man with ten talents. This is a metaphor for the end of times. He who has more will be given even more, and he who has less will be thrown into hell (why?). It's settled, God is a Republican.
The last part of the chapter is about sheep (good people) and goats (bad people). At the end of days people will be divided into sheep and goats. Jesus will tell the sheep they are blessed because they fed him when he was hungry and gave him water when he was thirsty. The righteous sheep answer that they don't know what he's talking about, because they never fed him or gave him drink (maybe they should have just said "you're welcome"). Jesus says that if they feed the least of his brothers they have fed him.
The goats, on the other hand, Jesus will send to hell for not feeding him. The goats ask when they ever refused to feed him. Jesus responds by saying that if they refuse to feed a stranger they refuse to feed Jesus. Eternal torment seems a bit harsh for not feeding one stranger.
Even some Christians recognize that Jesus isn't all roses and butterflies:
Go into most churches, and you’ll rarely hear a sermon about the firm, confrontational, and courageous side of Jesus’ personality. Churches sing about “The Old Rugged Cross,” but preachers and teachers seldom mention the rugged side of the Savior. For many women, this is not a problem because…let’s be honest…the rougher side of Jesus can make women uncomfortable and even lead to an occasional cringe.
The churches are hiding Jesus's true identity so they don't make the women uncomfortable? I must secretly have gender identity issues, because a lot of Jesus's actions make me cringe. The writer goes on to list a few of Jesus's "rough side" moments. Then he continues being a misogynist:
Far too often, when women come to these passages in the Bible, they just skip over them or try to explain away the stronger side of Jesus. They rationalize, “Jesus wasn’t really angry in the temple courts. No way. He was calm and amazingly detached as he swung that whip around.” They read in the NIV Bible translation that Jesus rebuked Peter with a stern “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me” (Matthew 26:23), and somehow their NGB (Nice Girl Bible) translation turns that into “Jesus got a little annoyed with Peter and tactfully suggested that it would be best for Peter to give him some space to regroup and have a little ‘me time.’”
Turn the word "women" into "Christians" and this article will not only be more accurate, but considerably less douchey. I'm not sure why only Christian women are getting blamed for this gross misrepresentation of Jesus. Unless all the Christian guys I know are really cross dressing woman.
Fortunately, Jesus Christ doesn’t need damage control or help from an image consultant. As presented in the Gospels, Jesus is most definitely not one-sided. He is the complete embodiment of healthy, balanced human personality; thus, Jesus is immensely compassionate, kind, and gracious while also being assertive, forceful, and firm when necessary. He is good, but he’s definitely not “nice” or as safe as many Christians want to believe.
Clearly Jesus does need image control. I say this because (as this article says) Jesus's image is controlled by the vast majority of churches. Would Jesus be as well liked if people fully accepted that he calls random women "dogs" and kills fig trees because they don't please him? I certainly like him less.
If this article has taught me anything, it's that the writer needs to take a long look at his calendar. It's 2010, not 1910. It's time to stop blaming women for Christianity's problems. It's also time to stop implying that women somehow can't handle any type of violence. There are women in the army, there are women that are doctors, and nurses, and all the other "manly" professions where they might see violence. Your gender stereotypes are just as bad as racial or religious stereotypes, get over them.
(via Oregon Faith Report)