About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 13
at the end of Jesus’ life on this earth and now one of the last things
He teaches about is the things pertaining to the end of this age, and to
His return. I would think that
during these last few hours of Jesus’ life the things that He said would
have been very important. Therefore we should never underestimate the
importance of prophecy as some do.
still Tuesday in verse 1 when Jesus and His followers
were leaving the temple. One
of them comments to Jesus about the beauty and massiveness of the temple.
It makes me wonder what this person would say if he was in downtown
like large massive buildings made by human hands always impresses us.
It’s just part of our nature. We
were made to create in the first place, so we tend to sit back in awe of
what we’ve created.
Jesus has a different response, and why not.
Creating a temple is nothing compared to creating the universe.
In verse 2 Jesus responds by saying, “ not one stone here will be
left upon another”. Every one will be thrown down.
If Jesus said anything else we don’t know. But we have no record
of Jesus agreeing that the temple was a wonder to see.
was a specific prophecy spoken by Jesus that came true in 70 A D when
verse 3 we see that Jesus and the Twelve have now left the temple and have
found a quiet place on the Mount of Olives that overlooks the
they look at the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew ask a couple of
specific questions. They ask,
"when will these things happen"
this they mean, when will the temple be destroyed.
The other question is, "what will be the sign that they will be
the second question, Matthew phrases it with a little more detail. He
writes, “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age”?
it is important to see that we have two specific questions that are asked
and that Jesus answers. The
two questions refer to two different events, not the same event.
The first question concerns the destruction of
is interesting to me that the Twelve now seem to understand that Jesus
will come back and at that time the end of the age will come.
This tends to make me think that at this moment the Twelve finally
got it. Jesus was not going to
set up His earthly kingdom now. That
would wait until the end of the age, and before the end comes, Jesus had
to depart in order to return.
we see Jesus’ answer we should note that the first thing He says is not
in reference to the first question concerning the destruction of the
temple. It is in reference to
the end. Therefore from verses
7 through 13 we see the time period beginning at that present moment to
the end. From verses 14 to 28
we see Jesus answering question one concerning the destruction of the
verse 5 Jesus says, “watch out that no one deceives
you”. This is a
warning that is directed straight to these Twelve men.
Men would try to deceive them and the rest of His followers, and
would actually succeed in many cases.
Man seems bent on having itching ears and listening to voices they
shouldn’t be listening too.
course, deceivers didn’t stop deceiving back in those days.
They continue to deceive up unto the very end as Jesus implies in
verse 7 Jesus tells them that they’d hear about all sorts of wars but
that shouldn’t concern them. What
Jesus is saying here is that wars are not a sign of the end.
In fact wars will be present throughout history, right up to the
end. Many have said that what
Jesus is saying here is that at the time of the end there will be more
wars, but that’s not exactly what He said here.
He’s saying that the Twelve will hear of wars and these wars will
continue until the very end. Jesus says that these wars must come but the
end is not yet. War, fighting between countries and individuals are all
part of the fallen world. Nothing
will change until Jesus returns and brings the needed change.
verse 8 He says that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against
kingdom. This is all part of
human history. In the same
breathe Jesus says that there will be “earthquakes in various places and
famines”. Then He says that “this is the beginning of birth pains”.
will be born from these birth pains is the Kingdom
guess is that Jesus only pointed out three things of many that He could
have pointed out. Wars,
earthquakes and famines are just examples of tragedies that will befall
men in their depraved state they find themselves in.
verse 9 Jesus prophecies directly to these twelve men by telling them that
they will be “handed over to councils and flogged in the synagogues”.
These twelve along with others would suffer persecution, and we all
know that prophecy came true. The
reference to synagogues point out that this particular persecution that
Jesus is speaking about will come from the Jews.
only would they be flogged by the Jews in the synagogue, but Jesus tells
us that on account of Him they’d stand before governors and kings.
We know that came true as well.
We just need to remember that they weren’t invited guests to the
governors. They stood before
the governors and kings as prisoners.
This particular persecution that Jesus is speaking about here comes
from the Gentile world.
10 says that the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
This is in the same breath when Jesus tells them that they will be
witnesses to kings. So it is
clear that part of the method of evangelism here spoken of by Jesus is
prison evangelism, not TV evangelism that seems much more appealing to
most of us.
in Matt. 24:14 adds one phrase to what Jesus says that Mark leaves out.
The phrase is, “then the end will come”. Matthew’s statement
from Jesus seems to suggest the real sign of the end is when the gospel is
finally preached to all nations, something that many Evangelicals hold
strongly to. And this makes
sense. If you read Romans 9
through 12 one things that stands out is that it appears that there is a
certain number of Gentile men and women that will come to salvation, and
once that number is reached the Jews will return to Jesus and then the end
will come. The preaching of
the gospel to all nations might well be a direct reference to that final
Gentile that will come to Jesus. Then once he or she is saved, the Jews
return to Jesus and Jesus returns to them and us.
verse 11 Jesus continues his prophetic words concerning the arrest of
these Twelve men. He tells
them not to worry about their defense because the Holy Spirit will give
them the words to say. The
Holy Spirit had not yet be given to these men.
This would happen later in Acts 2.
These words of Jesus were directed to these Twelve men, but it is
not bad hermeneutics to believe that if the Holy Spirit could speak
through these men, He could speak through us as well.
verses 12 and 13 Jesus gives a few more examples of things happening as
time goes on up to the end. He
says, “brother will betray bother to death and a father his child”. If
you believe that earth quakes and famines will increase as time goes on
you’ll believe that these family problems will get worse as well.
So some feel that family relations will deteriorate as time goes
on. You can certainly see
that. Then He says,
“children will rebel against parents and put them to death”.
As time goes on, you can clearly see how children are rebelling
against their parents. And
there will come a time, and it has already begun to come, that children
will kill their parents.
verse 13 Jesus says, “all men will hate you because of me, but he who
stands firm to the end will be saved”.
The last phrase here, “.. to the end” tells me that the hating
of believers here is speaking just as much to those at the end of the age
as it is to the Twelve. If the
Twelve stand firm to the end, that is the end of their lives, they will be
saved. If we stand firm to the
end of time, we will be saved.
Jesus telling us to stand firm to the end to be saved, He is implying that
some won’t stand to the end and they will lose their salvation.
This is a point to consider for those believing in “once saved
verse 14 Jesus speaks of the abomination that makes desolate.
This is clearly the reference to Daniel’s prophecy in Dan. 9:27,
11:1 and 12:1. The
introduction of this abomination focuses our attention on the first
century and not on the end of this age.
need to look that this “abomination that causes desolation”.
Without getting too detailed, Daniel speaks of this.
What Daniel prophesied has a two fold fulfillment.
This is not really debatable. Most
scholars agree that Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled in Old Testament
times, but still had another fulfillment that would be in New Testament
times. You can read my
commentary on Daniel to learn more about this.
another thought to consider. Some
say that the events of 70 AD which is the New Testament fulfillment of
Daniel’s prophecy is in fact prophetic itself.
By this I mean that as
as I said, most scholars link
this abomination to the destruction of
took place is this. Certain
Jewish zealots caused a major uproar in the temple, took over the Temple, killed about 8500 people and did all sorts of things that were an
abomination to the Law of God and the temple.
verse 14 Jesus tells His followers that when you see this abomination take
in verse 14 Jesus says, “let the reader understand”.
Jesus does not go into detail here.
It’s too bad He didn’t. It
might have cleared up some end time differences between Christians.
But by saying this, Jesus is expecting us to understand what He is
saying. This means we cannot neglect this subject as some have tried.
Prophecy is important and even though we may have differences that
should not stop us from trying to understand the prophetic nature of
fleeing of Christians from both
verses 15 and 16 Jesus says that if you are on the roof of your house
don’t bother going into your house to get anything.
People’s houses had flat roofs and they often went up to the roof
to rest in the sun. Jesus also
says that if you’re working in your fields, just go, don’t go back to
your house. The reason for
this is that there won’t be enough time to get your earthly things.
Soon after the Jewish zealots abominate the temple, the Roman
sad part of this is that it wasn’t the Gentiles that defiled the temple.
It was the Jews themselves, or at least one sect of the Jews.
And I’m wandering if there isn’t some prophetic symbolism here.
Paul tells us that in the last days some will depart from the faith
and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.
This is the contamination of the church that some feel will happen
at the end of the age. If this
is true, then as the Jews contaminated their own temple, so Christians
contaminate their own temple which is the church. I don’t say this as
verse 17 Jesus is sad over the fact that if a woman is pregnant or has
babies in arms, their trip out to the mountains will not be easy for them.
verse 18 Jesus tells the Twelve to pray that all this won’t happen in
the winter, which would be the cold and rainy season making it much harder
to flee all the way out of Judea into the mountains.
verse 19 Jesus says that these days will be the most stressful and
dreadful in history. The whole
verse 20 Jesus says that God “will cut short these days for the sake of
the elect”, which means, those who belong to God.
I will not get into a detailed explanation of the word “elect”
at this point.
says that these days of judgment will be the worst in history.
Because of these words some people believe that what Jesus is
talking about here is the end of the age and not the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet if you believe that the
another way to look at these words is that there was more than a
destruction of a city here. There
was the destruction of a whole nation, a whole ethnic group.
The Jews lost their identity and were scatted all over the world
until 1948 when they gained their country back.
You might argue the fact that there has been no other civilization
or nation in history that has lost such an identity as the Jews did in 70
AD, and in such a short span of time.
days” refer to a specific period of time, lasting from about 66 to 70
AD, that is from the time the zealots defiled the temple resulting in a
four to five year conflict between Jews and Rome
and ended in the total destruction in 70 AD.
verses 21 and 22 Jesus says that if you see or hear of people saying here
is, or there is the Christ, don’t believe them.
Why would anyone say such things in the first place?
One reason is that there were those claiming such things, even with
miracles. Yet there’s more to this.
Both Christians and Jews might think this would be the time of the
end and they’d expect their Messiah to come.
The Jews would think that Messiah would come to set up His Jewish
Kingdom. Christians might
think that Jesus would return to end this age. But Jesus is “clearly”
saying that He’s not coming back then so don’t concern yourself with
talk of the Messiah coming
verse 23 Jesus says, “so be on your guard because I have told you
everything ahead of time”. Once
again we see the importance of understanding prophecy.
Jesus is saying all these things because He wants us to understand
ahead of time. This
understanding will save us in the time of deception from satan.
The Twelve were told these things and they would in turn pass them
along so all Christians would know and understand them before they came
about. What applies to those
in the first century also applies to us in the twenty first century.
We are to study prophecy, understand it, and be saved from the
deception that comes our way.
verse 24 we read the words, “but in those days following the stress”.
These words switch our attention from the stress of 66 to 70 AD to
the times of the end of this age.
verses 24 and 25 we have an extremely shortened version of part of the
book of Revelation. Jesus says
that “in those days following the distress” certain things will
happen. When using the word
“following” He doesn’t tell just when these things will happen.
He simply says that they will happen and these thing will take
place, after the trouble of 70 AD.
things Jesus mentions here are the sun and moon being darkened and the
heavenly bodies shaken. Once
again when you read Revelation you’ll see the full picture.
verse 26 Jesus answers the question concerning when He will return.
After the above events, and not before, everyone will see the Son
of Man return. Elsewhere the
return of Jesus is described as lightening flashing across the sky.
It’s my thinking that Jesus will come in the clouds as Scripture
says, or in the sky, and as He comes down He will encircle the earth,
maybe many times in a matter of a mille second, much faster than the speed
of light or the speed of sound.
verse 27 Jesus says that He will send His angels who will gather His elect
from all over the earth. Once again the elect are those who have accepted
verse 28 Jesus begins to tell a parable about a fig tree to help the
Twelve understand what He’s been saying.
The parable itself is prophetic.
Concerning the fig tree He says that once you see the leaves come
out in the spring you know that summer is not far off.
So He continues to say that the end is like this.
Once you see the things I’ve described happening, you know that
the end is near.
verse 30 Jesus says that “this generation will certainly not pass away
until all these things have happened”.
There are two things we need to consider.
One is “this generation”, and
two is “all these things”.
take the easy one first. “All
these things” are the things that Jesus just mentioned, and that is the
shaking of the heavenly bodies and the sun and moon being darkened.
says that “this generation will not pass away until the sun and moon are
fully darkened and the heavenly bodies are shaken.
What does “this generation mean?
This seems to be one of the hardest questions in eschatology.
Some give a certain time period, like 20, 30, 40, or a 100 years.
Yet it may have nothing to do with time.
The Greek word can also be translated “race”, as in, “this
race will not pass away”. A
race of people can cover many generations.
A race of people can be seen as the race of Jews who have returned
to Israel. That means the nation of
complicate things further many end time people refer back to the parable
of the fig tree and also connect it with other certain verses. They say
the fig tree is symbolic and represents
the past few decades there’s been many guesses about these things. Israel
became a nation again in 1948. So
some held that a generation is a apace of time, not a race of people and
said the time span was 20 years. Thus
the end would come in 1968. Well
that didn’t turn out so they had to expand the time to 30, 40 or more
years. Forty years have come
and gone and so they’ve had to find other ways to extend the meaning of
“this generation”. One way
they’ve done this is pointing out certain discrepancies in calendars
over the centuries.
way of extending this time period is saying that we shouldn’t start
counting from 1948 but from 1967 when
if the fig tree is not symbolic of
point I'd like to insert an article I wrote to further explain my
Generation That Ends This Age
I was 15 years old when
Happy Together by the Turtles was a hit song in what pop culture called
the "Summer Of Love". One
of my favourite songs in the summer of 1967 was "Windy" by the
Association. I liked the
"59th Street Bridge Song", otherwise known as
"Feeling Groovy". It
was recorded by Harpers Bizarre, but it sure sounded like Simon and
Garfunkel who originally wrote and recorded the song.
Every July our family
attended the Free Methodist Camp just north of
The reason for all the
end time talk was because of the Six Day War in June of 1967 and how it
might relate to Matthew 24. Jesus
told His disciples that when the branches of the fig tree get tender,
summer is near. He then said
that in like fashion when you see the things He predicted being fulfilled;
know that the end is near. "This
generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have
happened". (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32)
There has been much
controversy and confusion over the words "this generation" in
Matthew 24:34. Some say the
word "this" in "this generation" refers specifically
to an Israeli generation. Others
say it refers to all ethnic generations.
Many understand "this generation" to be a generation
lasting a certain length of time, anywhere from 20 to 120 years.
Then there's the debate over when "this generation"
begins. If you can figure out
when this generation begins and how long it lasts, you'd have a good idea
when the end will come.
Most Prophetic Futurists
understand the fig tree in this passage to be
After getting serious
about Jesus in 1970 my heart's desire was to know the Bible.
That's why I ended up at Elim Bible Institute, in
My dad often talked to me
The Greek word
"genea" is translated as "generation" in Matthew
24:34. "Genea" means
"to become", as in "to become a human", or, "to
become a race of people". For
example, Abraham became a human being and his descendents became a race of
people known as Israelis. Because
"genea" can legitimately be translated a "race of
people" many credible Bible translators translate Matthew 24:34 this
way. "This race of people
will not pass away until all these things have happened".
Note that the NIV Bible has a footnote for Matthew 24:34 that
states this translation to be an acceptable alternate rendering.
Matthew 24:34 means
something quite different when you think in terms of a generation as a
race of people instead of a generation lasting a certain number of years.
No longer do you have to smash your head against the wall to figure
out how long a Biblical generation lasts.
With this in mind, I
refer you to Amos 9:14 – 15. "I
will bring back my exiled people
The important part of
Amos' prophecy for my present purpose is the prediction that once Israelis
return to their land, they would never be uprooted from it again.
Despite present pressures on
Back in the Summer Of
Love my dad's generation thought they might be the last generation because
they understood "this generation" to be a 20 to 40 year period
of time. Well, most of that
generation has since departed. If
I had have known back then what I think I know now, maybe I could have
suggested another way to think, but why would they have listened to a kid
blasting out "Judy In The Sky With Diamonds" by the Beatles on
his 6 transistor radio.
I now return to my
commentary on Mark 13.
31 ends this section with Jesus saying that heaven and earth will pass
away but His word will never pass away.
This might present what may appears as a problem after reading the
book of Revelation where it says there will be a new heaven and a new
earth. So how can heaven and
earth pass away if it’s going to be made new. Well Revelation doesn’t
really say the old earth will be made new.
It simply says there will be a new earth.
It appears to me that the old heaven and earth will pass away. Then
once it is gone a new heaven and earth will appear, and this new heaven
and earth may not resemble the old one in any way.
verse 32 Jesus says that “no one knows about that day or hour”.
The angels don‘t know and neither does He.
The angels not knowing is understandable, but Jesus not knowing is
hard to understand.
often read this verse to mean that no one knows the exact day or hour that
Jesus will return, and I believe that’s part of the meaning, but Jesus
doesn’t say exactly that. He doesn’t really say that no one knows the
day or hour of His return. He says that no one knows “about” the day
or hour, which to me, is broader than knowing just the exact time. It
would include other things as well. So it seems to me that their might
well be parts of the picture of the end that we don’t know about, which
would include the exact day and hour of Jesus’ return.
Jesus not knowing about these things, it is a little hard to understand.
Some have suggested that Jesus in His humanity didn’t know these
things but when Jesus left humanity and returned to Heaven, He’d then
learn all about these things.
verse 33 Jesus tells the Twelve to “be on their guard and be alert”
for they don’t exactly know when the important day will come.
Yet in context Jesus did give them some clues when the end would
come. So they were to
anticipate and look for the end. They
should be alert and on guard, so none would be caught sleeping in their
verse 44 and following Jesus tells a small parable to help explain these
things. He says that a man
goes away and puts others in charge of his house.
Each have their own jobs to do.
One particular person was assigned to stand at the door and keep
thing we see in this parable is that a number of people are in charge and
each seems to have a different job and one important job is the door
keeper who keeps watch for the owner to return.
once again, we can’t ignore the things of the end of this age as some
do. And it is clear that certain people in the Body of Christ are to be
door keepers These are those who are to keep watch.
I would equate some of these people to those teachers today who
major on the topic of prophecy and keep the rest of us up to date.
verse 35 Jesus tells these Twelve men to keep watch even though they never
saw the end in their day. But
remember, it is quite possible that when Jesus was saying these things
that He Himself didn’t know when His return would be, therefore He had
to tell them to keep watch.
Jesus didn’t stop here. In
verse 37 He says, “what I say to you, I say to everyone.
Watch”. These words
are words that are directed to all Christians, past, present and future.
These words are spoken directly to you and I.
We are to keep watch for the return of Jesus.
It’s as simple as that.