Christ is risen! Hallelujah! It changes everything.
This is the final part of our look at the Olivet Discourse and the passage can be read here. There are three major things here; the fig tree (v29-31), faithfulness (v32-33) and focus (v34-36). Apologies for the alliteration, I just couldn’t help myself.
The fig tree is often a picture of the nation of Israel. Most of the commentators think it isn’t the case here and that Jesus is saying, just as you can see the changes in the seasons in the changes in the trees, when these signs are being fulfilled, Christ’s return is approaching. Personally, I’m not so sure, one hundred years ago the very idea of a nation of Israel was absurd, that fact that it now exists is remarkable.
Jesus is faithful. The word ‘generation’ (v32) is translated from the Greek word ‘genea’ and it can mean a single generation or a race of people (as stated in the NIV margin). Jesus is either saying there will be one generation in time from the beginning of the end times to their completion or, this race of people (the Jews) will not pass away until the very end. I favour the second explanation as it fits the context; the fig tree (Israel) and then Jesus words (his promises) will never pass away.
Believers should remain focused. As a young man I worked for a very big company at a large facility. Things were ok initially but it soon became clear, there were too many people and not enough work. I remember one day when it was particularly quiet, there just wasn’t anything to do, everything that could be cleaned had been cleaned and I somehow ended up in one of the empty workshops. Before long there was a group of us, we messed about for a while and then someone made a ball out of a rag and some tape. Someone else found a piece of wood that would serve as a bat and from nowhere, an impromptu game of cricket began with a bowler, batsman and the rest of us as fielders. It was hilarious; I think I was thoroughly enjoying fielding until the boss walked in. The game stopped instantly, he didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to – every one of us was embarrassed. I’m not sure to this day what I should have been doing but I knew it wasn’t playing cricket. One day Jesus will return, we don’t know when, but we know it will be when we least expect it. I don’t want to be embarrassed.
“Now He’s standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own beloved
Till His Father calls to bring them home!
Then the skies will part as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run to her Lover’s arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!” (From the Squalor – Stuart Townend)