Luke 21:29-38 (ESV)
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
Jesus told his disciples a parable, illustrating their need to be ready for his return. He asked them to think about the fig tree and really all trees in general. He explained that leaves forming on the branches indicate that summer is near and winter has passed. Jesus taught them that the signs he previously described were like leaves. When those things came to pass, they would know the kingdom of God was coming soon. Then Jesus added the interesting phrase, “This generation will not pass away until all has taken place.” What did he mean? Was Jesus saying the people around him would not die until he returned? That wouldn’t make sense. A good explanation states that Jesus meant many of “the generation” of people who will be alive when the end times come will also be alive when he returns and wraps things up. In other words, the end times events will occur quickly and be completed (start to finish) within a generation. To keep the disciples from thinking they had time before the kingdom of God was fully established and could take it easy, he warned them to watch themselves. Followers of Jesus are not to get drunk and pursue the sinful pleasures this world may offer. His return will come unexpectedly for those who are not prepared. When Jesus comes back, everyone will know it. The disciples are to be always alert and on guard, watching for these things. Jesus’ followers are to pray continually for God’s strength to be obedient and endure.
What about us? What should we do? We should do the same things that Jesus asked his disciples to do almost 2000 years ago. We must always be ready for his return and expect him to come back at any time. We should rely on God through prayer and depend upon his strength to live in a way that brings him glory and honor. Even if the end doesn’t come for another hundred or another thousand years, your own personal end could be tonight. If today were your last, what would you do? What would you be concerned with? What would you let go of? Let’s be mindful of the tension that Jesus asks us to live with. Let’s work hard and make good choices for the future, yet continually remember that this night could be our very last.