Jesus opens his prophecy of end-time judgment with a severe critique of the religious establishment of his day--the same establishment that had been challenging him in the previous chapter. Although Matthew's first audience would hear in this critique a promise of judgment on the Judean leaders of their own day, who continued to oppose their message, Matthew also wanted them--and us--to look deeper. Jesus' own professed servants can belong among the "hypocrites" (24:51). Like Paul in Romans 1--2 and Amos in Amos 1--3, Matthew forces leaders in his own community to see themselves through the prism of a disobedient religious establishment that opposed its Lord and thereby summons them to take warning.
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