Vol. 6, No. 10
~ Page 5 ~
In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, we read the severest denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees that can be read in any literature in the world. This castigation was the fulfillment of prophecy because the prophets had foretold how the Son of God would be maligned and abused by the leaders of the Jewish people. In this instance, our Lord was not just lashing out in human anger against those who were about to crucify him; on the contrary, because he knew his days were numbered and that the earthly phase of his redemptive work was about to end, he was making a "last ditch" effort to dissuade the Jews from the path they had determined to take. Near the end of his sermon to them, he made two statements that catapult our minds back to Daniel 9:24.
In this passage Daniel said, "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy." The two phrases to which we give attention are: (1) "to finish the transgression," meaning the ultimate transgression of the will of God that was to be committed in the crucifixion of his Son; and (2) "to make an end to sins," meaning that when Jesus was crucified upon the cross the act that would bring about the forgiveness, or end, of sins for millions of people would be accomplished. Furthermore, Jesus said this was going to "come upon this generation."
The generation of which Jesus spoke here is not the one in which we are now living, but the one to which he was speaking. To apply this to any generation of people other than to that to which Jesus spoke is to do violence to the language and context of Matthew 23:36. Jesus urged the Jews of that day to "fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt" (v. 32), by which he meant that they were to take the last step that would complete the guilt of all their fathers who had killed the prophets and stoned those whom God had sent to them. It was his way of telling them to finish what their fathers had begun. The things that were going to come on those who completed the heinous work their fathers had started are outlined in the remainder of the Olivet Discourse in chapters 24 and 25.
The point we wish to get to in this article is that they were, by finishing "the transgression," going to bring, or make, "an end to sins." The Lord did not mean by this that there would never be any more sin on the earth after his crucifixion, but that his crucifixion would make it possible for millions of people to see an end to sin in their lives when they were cleansed by the blood of Christ. They were, by the very evil things they were about to do, going to make it possible for so many people to call on the name of the Lord, and be saved from all iniquity and for all eternity. It is ironic, to say the very least, that the ultimate sin would lead to the end of sins, but that is precisely what came to pass by the crucifixion of the Lord. The crucifixion had to happen or there would have been no forgiveness for mankind. So, the crucifixion of Christ was not just some act of the Jews and Romans over which God had no control, which caused God to be unable to establish a physical, or earthly kingdom. It was a part of the divine plan from before all the ages to bring salvation to all in the world who will accept Jesus Christ as Savior, King, Lord and Master.
Jesus closed this denunciation of these evil leaders with a strong warning of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in verses 37-39. In the 38th verse, he said, "See! Your house is left to you desolate..." Notice the tense of the verb; it is present. At the time Jesus said that all the circumstances that would later work in the destruction of Jerusalem and Judaism were already at work. The future of their nation and religion was doomed to be destroyed by the Romans, and indeed it was destroyed in AD 70. It never rose again!