Okay, now be honest with me; have you ever watched the end of a movie first to make sure you like it before you watch the whole movie? Or perhaps you have read the last chapter of a book first? Well, even if you have not done either of those things then you have probably seen a situation where the director or the author started with the ending and then rolled back in time from that point.
I have heard that technique called a bunch of different things; in media res for the folks who prefer the fancy Latin name, or just plain reverse chronology or reverse narrative for simple folks like me. Some people like that approach, and some do not, but it can be very effective when used correctly. In fact, a similar version of this technique is quite often used for business presentations. How many of you have been told to; “Start with the end in mind…” at some point in your career.
In our focal passages the last couple of weeks, Jesus has employed a similar technique with aplomb. His disciples asked Him a question about the end of time and when it would come, and Jesus fast-forwarded the discussion to the end of time and then told them the story in reverse order, working his way from the end back to that present time.
Now the story was not for light weights and some of his followers must have struggled to comprehend everything He told them. You know Jesus was the Master at reading minds and body language. How many times have we heard Luke say that “Jesus knew their thoughts…”?
Well that seems to be the case again in our study this week. Jesus had just shared some heady stuff with His loyal band of followers and most likely it left their heads spinning just a bit. How do I know that; well I don’t exactly, but it seems likely to me because Jesus did what He often did when His audience had that lost look on their faces. He told them a parable to help them better understand.
Did it help? Hopefully, it did for most of His followers on that day, but it has sure spawned tons of controversy over the centuries since. Some say that all of Christianity hangs in the balance based upon how you interpret one simple sentence in Jesus parable of the fig tree. In fact, critics around the world point to it as proof that Jesus erred in life and was not perfect. They say He himself admitted it and they use this passage and one other to refute His deity in an attempt to undermine His authority.
Are they right? Of course not! But what is the big scary verse that threatens to unwind things, you ask? Well you will have to join us tomorrow to find out. But if you just cannot wait until then; go ahead and hit the fast-forward button on your Bible and read the end of the book. You will see that everything turns out pretty good for the saints in the end.
For those unable to join us in person, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File. Also, you can download files for previous weekly studies by visiting the following page on my blog: Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.